Kiana Dancie is a talented comedienne, producer, radio personality and actress. Born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Atlanta, Ms. Dancie has shared the stage with the Oscar winning comedic actress Monique, Akintunde, Rodney Perry, Sheryl Underwood, Katt Williams and many, many more. She has been praised for her ability to be flexible and appeal to diverse audiences! Learn a little about how Kiana got started in stand up here and read the rest of her interview in our printed issue.
Fancy: How would you describe your swagher? What makes Kiana, Kiana?
Kiana: First off what makes Kiana, Kiana, is Kiana doesn’t walk to anyone’s beat. So when I come into the room, I come into the room to own it. I don’t care about what anyone else has going on. I came to show you what I have going on. I have always been that way. As long as I can remember, I have been the one who sets the tone, like I’m the one who sets the tone in my girl group. My friends look to me like,”what we goin’ do? How are we goin’ do it? Oh, ok. That’s what you doing.” You know how sometimes other females pick up the phone and ask you what you are wearing? I never pick up the phone. They call me.
Fancy: So when did you decide to seriously pursue comedy?
Kiana: When I got laid off from my job in 2009, I decided I didn’t want to go back into corporate America anymore. Earlier, I went back to school. I took the LSAT. I was supposed to go to law school. I got my degree- worked for Sony, went from Sony to Samsung. When I left corporate America, I decided it is now or never. I knew that people enjoyed me. I made them laugh and kept them entertained by my stories and interactions with people, so I decided I was going to do it then. So in 2009 when I got laid off from my job, I moved to LA and said I’m going to make money at this, and I have. It’s a process. It’s definitely one of those situations that you have to keep banging at, but eventually someone is going to know who I am, and I’ve made a lot of strides so far. For me, it’s not a career. It’s a love that I have for it. I’m not even working.
Fancy: Funny you should say that. Most comedians say they knew they would go into comedy because as a child they were always making people laugh at or they were the class clown. Were you that way?
Kiana: Well certainly I was an entertainer. I was an actress. I used to model for Casual Corners, Macy’s, JC Penney’s- I was a catalog girl! (Laughs). A lot of people don’t know that. I used to play chess. I was always the center of attention. My nickname used to be “Radio” because I was always on. People would always say, “Shut Radio up! Be quiet! Turn her off!” So me being in front of people, talking, and entertaining, that’s not new. That’s what I do. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was the class clown, but I was crowned drama queen in high school. Girl, my stories were dramatic, honey. I always had an issue, something going on. This happened, and I would have the whole class captivated with me. “Let me tell you what happened, and this, and this” My teacher would be like, “if you don’t put that energy somewhere else.”
Fancy: Did you begin stand up while working in corporate America?
Kiana: No I kept it low, because I worked for two very conservative companies. Now of course my coworkers knew that I was funny, and I would always have them laughing because I always had something going on, but I used comedy to heal me. I ended a long term relationship with my ex. We were dating for 10 years. I broke up with him and used it (comedy) to heal me. I always said, “No matter what you are going through, you don’t have to look like you have been through something.” So I used my gift to make other people laugh and as a healing tool for myself. Quite often people come to the comedy shows, and they have the whole world on their shoulders. They are mad. They are angry. They are going through a divorce. They hate their jobs, but that time that they are there with you, you have given them the opportunity to laugh it away. I use my ability to make people laugh to heal myself. I always say I laughed myself whole. You know when you end a relationship, you are broken. You are questioning some things, so I used my own gift to heal myself.
Fancy: We know many comedians discuss their own lives during their shows. Do you discuss your ex?
Kiana: Girl my whole set are about my ex boyfriends, and it’s funny because one of them has been sniffing around my tree lately girl! I be like,”boy are you trying to come back?” I’m trouble now.” It’s like in your twenties- and I did it backwards. It’s like your twenties is the time to hangout, be cute, let the boys see you and bring them all to the yard. You don’t have to make any commitment. You just kick it, but I was in a committed relationship. So I always say I gave my twenties to my ex. Honey, this good thirties- these thirties right here- are for sale. So if you want me, you better bring it, you have to bring the cow, the horse- You better have a whole trough of things, because I’m not just handing over my good thirties!
Be sure to look for the second part to Kiana’s interview in our printed issue as we go deeper and discuss what it is like being a woman in comedy and being a stand up comedian versus an online comedian. Follow Kiana across her social media accounts at @KianaDancie or visit her site WWW.KIANADANCIE.COM.