Michael Danner ’05, Director of Client Relations/ Professional Actor, Casting Networks, Inc.
“Above it all, Merrimack has always fostered a sense of community that taught me about being a part of something that’s bigger than myself. I am Merrimack Proud because Merrimack makes me proud.”
It was not until Michael saw the school production of “Our Town” his sophomore year that he found his calling for the theatre. He had recognized the play from when his father took him to see the performance as a child, and once he saw that Merrimack was producing their own rendition, he auditioned for the OnStagers.
“At Merrimack, I fell in love with acting, and it is because of my experience there that I continue that pursuit today.”
Upon graduation, Michael continued to pursue his passion in the arts by completing a master’s degree in film production at Chapman University in California. With a true zeal for acting, Michael moved to Los Angeles to find more opportunities, and has made it his permanent home. Since 2008, Michael has starred in numerous independent films and web series. He has also appeared in commercials for Nike, McDonald’s and more recently for Dunkin Donuts.
When he isn’t doing auditions, Michael works in the marketing department at Casting Networks, Inc. where he produces, writes, edits, and does the voice over for tutorial videos and promotional material. He also writes movie reviews for the company’s online newsletter.
How did your experience at Merrimack help you as a professional?
My experience at Merrimack has helped me as a professional in many different ways. I owe quite a bit to my professor, Dr. Deborah London, with whom I took many Communication Studies courses throughout my years at Merrimack. She helped develop many of the communicative skills that I continue to use all the time, and she was extremely supportive of my extracurricular endeavors—she attended several of my onstage performances during my time there. I also learned how to interact in professional group environments, through my involvement in Student Government and the Orientation Committee. Above it all, though, Merrimack always fostered a sense of community that taught me about being a part of something that’s bigger than myself. I consider myself extremely lucky to have spent those 4 years at such a great school.
What is the best advice you could give current Merrimack students?
The best advice I can give to current students is that your experience at Merrimack is what you make of it. You can spend four years going to class and then going home or back to your dorm, and get a good education, which is very important. But in my experience, you will get a lot more out of your time there if you get involved. Join clubs, meet as many different kinds of people as you can, volunteer in Lawrence and North Andover and study abroad if you can, and go on Alternative Spring Break. My experience working with Habitat for Humanity my junior year in North Carolina was one of my best experiences there. Lastly, try not to stress out if it takes you a while to pick a major. I was undeclared until the middle of my junior year, and I was still able to find a career that is fulfilling.
Why are you Merrimack Proud?
Some of my best lifelong friendships have come from Merrimack. When I think of the College, my heart feels a little bigger. During my senior year in high school, I went to see a series of speakers at the school, which included some then-current students. I’ll never forget that day. I remember Sean O’Grady, who was a freshman at the time and someone I later became great friends with, came up to the podium and painted a picture of Merrimack College as this incredible place that needed to be experienced to be believed. I would come to find out that it was even better than his description. I am Merrimack Proud because Merrimack makes me proud.