‘Mean Girls’ Daniel Franzese talks about the value of choice and youth

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Daniel Franzese visits VU

Daniel Franzese visits VU

Kami Minnich

Kami Minnich

Daniel Franzese visits VU

Kami Minnich and Noah Dalton

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On Thurs. Sept. 20, Daniel Franzese visited the Vincennes University campus to host a keynote where he talked to local high school students about his life and career as part of College Go! Week. Franzese is an actor and comedian best known for his role as Damian in the 2004 film “Mean Girls.”

The Trailblazer sat down with Franzese before he spoke. In regard to his early career, he said that while working on smaller roles he lived in New York and had many odd jobs.

“I was a bouncer, I was a mover for Morgan Stanley and I worked for the Trade Center but I was off that day,” he said in reference to the events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001.  

He then moved to Los Angeles after he booked his role in “Mean Girls” in 2003 and has been living there ever since.

“I moved to L.A. right when the movie came out and I’ve been working ever since. I’ve been nothing but an actor since then,” he said.

Although Franzese is based out of Los Angeles, he said, “You don’t really live in L.A., you just travel and it’s usually a home base for people.”

Franzese has traveled to various places to film, including Toronto, Canada and Mexico. He is currently traveling across the country in his “Yass You’re Amazing” comedy tour on college campuses. Franzese is crossing the Atlantic in April, bringing his comedy to the United Kingdom.

When asked about what brought him to the VU campus, Franzese said, “There’s this thing called NACA, the National Association for Campus Activities, and you go there and you’re either like an emcee or you do comedy or both.”

A representative from VU who was attending a NACA conference saw Franzese performing as an emcee there and invited him to the campus for the keynote.

Franzese said that he was happy to be at VU, saying that his comedy is “poignant at times but also inspirational for young people.” He does an “AMA” (ask me anything) at the end of his shows and includes some of the content from those in his other stand-up routines.

Even the shirt he wore gave the message “Vulnerability is Dope,” exemplifying that men don’t have to hide their emotions and be afraid to cry.

“As Italian men we invented pizza and toxic masculinity,” Franzese quipped.

During his talk to the students in the Vincennes school corporations, he gave a message to encourage the young people to not waste their time, potential and gifts they’ve been given.

“If you go home and pick up the guitar tonight, in 10 years wouldn’t even be 30 and you would be a 10 year guitar veteran,” Franzese said as an encouragement to not put off trying new things.

“The luxury of choice and[…]the impact of their voices. And also, about the value of youth. So many people take plastic surgery and use creams and stuff to look young, because they want to have the perception of having more time,” he said.

Franzese also talked about the discouragement he faced while growing up, being told that going into acting was improbable and silly. But in the face of adversity and financial hardship, Franzese persisted and earned several scholarships to pay for his education in acting.

After his AMA session for the speech, Franzese ended his talk with a call to action to “be the encouragement the younger you might not have had,” and this final thought, “If you could go back and tell yourself something when you were 12 what would it be?”

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‘Mean Girls’ Daniel Franzese talks about the value of choice and youth