When I was a kid, I loved dinosaurs. I was obsessed with dino displays at the museum, and my third-grade science project was an exploration of the Jurassic period, complete with an active volcano. I thought I was pretty smart.
Enter Dino Dana, a pint-sized paleontologist in training who younger me would have loved. The multi-award-winning series stars Emmy-winning actress Michela Luci as the 10-year-old titular character Dana, who (like Dino Dan and Trek before her) eats, sleeps, and breathes dinosaurs. Armed with a big imagination, a special backpack made by her dad, and Trek’s Dino Field Guide, Dana imagines dinosaurs into the real world and embarks on epic encounters with the help of her sister, Saara, and friends.
And the super-cool part? Her dino friends think she’s one of them — allowing her to get closer to the action than any of her predecessors!
Michela Luci & Dino Dana
In Dino Dana, reality intermingles with Dana’s fantastic imagination. In her world, dinosaurs really come to life, which Luci describes as bringing “an element of creativity and magic behind the science of their existence.” However, the show’s writers make sure that Dana’s activities lead her to investigate the world through a scientific lens, usually rooted in real-life scenarios that require a solution.
“With her experiments, she learns a lot of important lessons that can be applied to her day-to-day life,” Luci says. “She doesn’t just learn about dinosaurs because of their cool looks or ferocious qualities, but because they can make a positive impact on her life and the lives of others around her.”
And does Luci have a favorite dinosaur?
“Compsognathus,” she says confidently. “It’s a small chicken-sized dinosaur, and it’s fluffy. I would describe it as the puppy amongst the dinosaurs. It’s absolutely adorable in my opinion. It’s small, just like I am. It’s small but mighty. So I kind of relate to it in that way.”
That’s a mouthful for anyone, and could be especially daunting for someone so young, but Luci credits the entire production crew with helping her succeed in front of the camera. When she received a script, it would include an audio recording to ensure the dinosaur names were pronounced correctly, and cinematographers provided visual representations of the dinosaurs beside a diagram of Luci to determine scale.
“They did well to give me visuals and really understand the qualities, characteristics, and the visuals of the dinosaurs. I’m very appreciative of everything that they did to make it as easy as possible for me,” she says.
It truly does take a village to make dinosaurs come to life, and that work translates to the show’s passionate fan base. It also impacted some adults, too. Not only did the show win an Emmy, but Luci earned a 2019 Daytime Emmy Award for Best Performer in a Children’s Program and for Outstanding Preschool Children’s Series.
Leading the Pack
One of the most significant factors critical to Dino Dana’s success is Michela herself. Luci’s predecessors were both male; her entrance into the franchise speaks to a generation of girls who haven’t been represented in the media, or who might consider a scientific discipline.
“Dana is different from Dino Dan and Trek because she’s a strong female lead. This isn’t a character that you would typically see being portrayed by a female,” says Luci. “Our audience of young girls now have a role model to look up to and the show delivers the important message that girls can do anything that boys can do. And I think that’s what makes her different.”
Fans of the show aren’t shy about showing their support, or telling the young lead how much she has impacted their lives.
“I get so many kind messages and even handwritten letters. At the end of the day, I think that’s my favorite part about being an actor –seeing how much something I love can make such a positive impact on someone’s life,” Luci says. “With everything being digital and online now, it’s truly incredible to make that connection. It feels very special.”
Dino Dana New Release
Dino Dana is created and executive produced by Sinking Ship Entertainment, a multi-award-winning production, distribution, and interactive company specializing in family, kids’ live-action and CGI-blended content. Seasons one and two of the series are now available for purchase on iTunes and Google Play for $19.99 per season, or $2.99 per episode (on iTunes) and $1.99 per episode (on Google Play).
Check out the iTunes trailer below.