Interview: Dani Fernandez Casts A Comedic Spell In ‘Live From WZRD’

Actress and comedian Dani Fernandez knows a thing or two about magic.

As the co-host of the VRV streaming show Live from WZRD with hip hop artist Open Mike Eagle, Fernandez star as students from a magical community college in California who run a low-fi show for the college student body. It’s supposed to keep students up to date on what’s happening around the college, but what it ends up being is a raucous and humorous time filled with wild summons, ghosts, pop-up guests and more.

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I was excited to interview Fernandez via email about the show, her opinions on a certain wizarding world, and how she feels about Latinx representation in the media. You can watch the entire first season of Live from WZRD at VRV now with an account.

How did Live from WZRD come about?

I met with the fine folks at VRV to talk about projects and fandoms I was interested in and they told me about this idea for a wacky wizard show. They told me they wanted to sign on Open Mike Eagle and that completely sealed the deal for me. I’ve wanted to work with Mike for a while now. He is such a wonderfully talented human.

Live from WZRD is all about zaniness, jokes, magic and humor, featuring popular influencers and comedians. How do you feel this show relates/speaks to today’s audience? What do you feel they will take from the show?

I think it connects with the large sci-fi fantasy, RPG, and comedy communities – which intersect quite a bit! I’m so glad it’s cooler these days to be a complete nerd. I grew up reading fanfiction and being in RPG chats when I was in middle school and I’m glad I get to play pretend for my job. I hope the audience relates to the characters who might not succeed at everything, but at the end of the day, have big hearts and each other.

You have a deep love for pop culture with your role on Live from WZRD and your podcast, Nerdificent. What jumpstarted your love for pop culture and why do you feel pop culture is important when learning about society?

I honestly think I needed an escape. I had a rough childhood and this fantasy world offered a place for me to escape to. I think comic books and the sci-fi fantasy community have messages of overcoming our greatest obstacles, and I think myself and others needed that message. The worlds are often a more exaggerated version of our own. They also are filled with a diverse cast of characters and it is important to feel you are reflected and represented in media.

What have been some of your favorite moments from Live from WZRD?

Michael “Mookie” Blaiklock who plays Steve the Janitor was so funny I honestly ruined many takes because I could not stop laughing. To be fair, I could hear others laughing at him on set too! He had us dying.

You are helping make waves as a Latina creator in Hollywood. How do you feel about Latina/x representation in entertainment? What are some positives and what could be changed?

I think there is a lot of work to do. We make up a huge number of movie ticket sales but not movie roles. We are not adequately reflected in media and even when we do well (see One Day at a Time which had 8 million viewers and 98% on Rotten Tomatoes) we are still cancelled. That is heartbreaking to me and I wish studios gave us the repeated chances they give other creators. Some positives are that we are making progress. We are seeing queer Latinx representation and plus-sized Latinx representation and Indigenous and Afro-Latinx. It’s not nearly enough, but it is there. I think studios need to be willing to take a risk on us and put real legitimate marketing behind our projects. Many times Latinx properties are under-marketed. I want to see them really support us before they cancel us.  

Latinx characters make up a small part of fan culture, but there are some out there, with Ghost Rider being one of the more prevalent characters. What Latinx characters would you like to see get portrayed in the media and how do you feel about the ones that are out there now?

Miles Morales was a shining golden moment for many of us. I feel he truly was THE hero of 2018 and gave us something beautiful to root for. I would love to see America Chavez brought to life, and I think we will see her live in action probably soon.

Since your show is about a school of magic, I’m reminded of J.K. Rowling, who is constantly remaking her Harry Potter series via her retcons on Pottermore. What would be a retcon you’d like to see Rowling make in the series?

Does she have brujas ever appear? I have bruja ancestry and would love to see some of that pop up for the Hogwarts kids.

If you were at Hogwarts, what house would you say you’d be placed in and why?

I’m Gryffindor through and through. I have a really big heart and believe in being brave and doing the right thing even when it hurts you. And it hurts! Author Brene Brown is always talking about how we have to stay vulnerable and that it takes bravery to be vulnerable and I always want to tell her, I am, and it hurts! But if we don’t, we won’t grow and we may never know how truly strong we will become one day.  

Where do you see Hollywood going in the future?

Hopefully to a place where I don’t have to constantly tweet to remind people to hire women of color. They are the least paid and least represented demographic in my industry. I hope that changes.

What are some of your upcoming projects?

I’m directing a short horror/thriller that I wrote. I love horror and am excited to dive into more spooky things.