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A Welcome Introduction: Dana Workman
The sexy TV host talks “skin walkers,” humour, and working with Jack Osbourne. By Coleman Molnar
Some would call her a double threat for her skill as an actress and beauty as a model. Some would say triple threat, because she’s also one hell of a host—just ask any Haunted Highway fan. Whatever the degree of threat, one thing is certain: Dana Workman has talent. She’s funny at the drop of a hat, sexy to the point of combustion, well spoken, and brave enough to go head to head with some of America’s spookiest ghost stories. We had a visit with the appealing paranormal pursuer to talk fear, friends, and funny.
Where You’ve Seen Her:
Poker players and fans may recognize this 5’3’’ pocket rocket from her role as host for Fox’s Poker2Nite. She covered the globe with this gig, helping to make card playing look sexy in Macau, London, Punta Cana and San Francisco. She has also played guest roles in shows like 8 Simple Rules and Malcolm in the Middle.
But her most recent foray in show biz came in the Blair-Witch-reminiscent paranormal reality TV show, Haunted Highway, which aired this summer on the SyFy Network. The show followed Workman and her cohost and friend, Jack Osbourne, as they travelled the United States looking for the hairiest and scariest alleged cryptid stories and sightings. The duo of on-camera talent teamed up with expert paranormal investigator Jael de Pardo and Devin Marble to interview witnesses, and try to catch the unexplained off guard and on camera.
Sharp: So what are you up to these days?
Workman: I’ve just been doing a bunch of interviews and that kind of stuff, waiting to see if we’re going to go another season. I went to Croatia for a couple weeks and did something called Yacht Week.
Sharp: Sounds tough.
Workman: Yeah (laughs), it was fun. There were 40 sailboats that went from island to island. And now I’m working on putting together a pitch for a show that’s sci-fi based.
Sharp: What’s your idea for the show?
Workman: I can’t say yet! (giggles)
Sharp: Ok, we tried. Let’s talk about Haunted Highway. First of all, do you honestly believe in all those things you investigated?
Workman: Yes, I’m an open-minded skeptic, you could say, but I’m pretty much scared of my own shadow when I’m out there. We’re out in the middle of the woods or desert by ourselves, so it can be pretty frightening. That coupled with the fact that we’re actually looking for something that can potentially be frightening tends to make the hairs on your arm stand up.
Sharp: What was the scariest place you visited?
Workman: One of the places that we were most excited to go to was also one of the places that I was the most scared of: Skin Walker Ranch. This whole area in Utah is just a mecca or holy grail for unexplained phenomena. Getting to this town, immediately, I was creeped out. And talking to the witnesses, talking to people, a lot of the time you can just see in their eyes that they truly believe that what they’re saying is real. And then when we were out there, I didn’t really realize until after we left and I connected it, a lot of little, weird things happened.
Jack actually kept hearing this noise and I didn’t hear it, but whenever he gets spooked that just sends me into the hills because he never gets scared. And he kept turning around to see if he could see anything or hear anything again.
We were standing on this ridge on top of a valley and we couldn’t hear it so we went back to try to film each other and he would stop again and turn around and finally, the third time he stopped he said, ‘ok, whatever that is, it’s getting closer.’ And at that point I was just like, ‘ok, bye!’ A part of me wants to go after it and a part of me wants to get the hell out of there.
Sharp: So who hid behind whom? Who was the rock and who was the scaredy cat?
Workman: On the show they made it look like I was the rock and Jack was the scaredy cat, but I think it was really me going through most of the emotions. Jack is pretty even keel; he doesn’t really get scared until something is in his face and in front of him. I’m the one who is really brave and will drag and lead him in and then I’m also the one who will drag him out.
Sharp: Were you friends with Jack Osbourne before the show?
Workman: We had met a couple times, but we really just collaborated when the show got going. I think people always become better friends when they’re out in the middle of nowhere with each other looking for this type of stuff.
Sharp: And how was it working with Jack?
Workman: He is one of the most down-to-earth people you will ever meet. Not just for a celebrity, but just as a person. He is really cool. He definitely has a nerdy side, but this means he’s really smart: conspiracy theories, the unexplained, the military, he just seems to know everything about everything.
Sharp: How much of these myths is due to the actual paranormal creature and how much is simply the folklore?
Workman: Jack said it well once: he said he believes the stories originated from somewhere and whether some of them grew legs or not, I don’t know. But I believe they’re based on something. I don’t believe they’re complete and total myths. I just don’t think they would’ve been around for so long and people would’ve been so dead set on what they thought was real. Some of them may be fabricating, some of them may be exaggerating, who knows. Nobody really knows until they’re out there and they talk to these people and look into their eyes.
Sharp: Tell us about being the cameramen.
Workman: We were the camera people on the show—I held a handheld camera and so did Jack and we had little Go Pros and other types of camera equipment, like a camera that picked up heat signatures. We were pretty strapped down with trying to film everything for you guys.
It’s a shame because the episodes have to be cut into 22 minutes, so there was a lot of stuff that they didn’t show that I was disappointed about. The whole Skin Walker Ranch thing with the noise—yelling at each other, trying to keep the camera on our faces and I’m freaking out.
Sharp: Does that add to the scariness, the fact that it’s just a few of you out there by yourselves?
Workman: Oh my god, yes! I hear a branch crack and I’m like, ‘Aaah! Shit!’
Sharp: Will we see another season?
Workman: I hope we get to go another season—we kind of had a bit of a twist this year with Jack finding out that he had MS. I think there is a lot to be learned from the first season and there are a lot more things to see and do. We’ve been getting emails all the time from people suggesting places to go and things to check out—it’s just one thing on top of another.
Sharp: Do you think these haunted areas are more of a deterrent or an attraction for most people?
Workman: That’s a really good question. One of the people we interviewed from the Skin Walker Ranch area, he actually moved there because he was so fascinated. But these towns are generally in the middle of nowhere.
Sharp: Ok, enough ghost stories, let’s talk about you. How did you get your start in show business?
Workman: I started acting and then I segued into hosting. I really love comedy. I didn’t want to act and cry and dig deep and study my scripts; I wanted to make jokes. So I ended up landing Poker2Nite and I did a talk segment where I made fun of everybody and everything from the week. That was perfect for me. And then I got this job, which mixed everything I was interested in growing up, including the paranormal and unexplained.
Sharp: Did you have paranormal experiences as a child that triggered this interest in the unexplained?
Workman: No, not at all. Actually, I’m kind of jealous. I almost feel offended that I haven’t seen anything or that I didn’t see anything when I was younger. The unknown has always fascinated and things that scare me fascinate me. I love natural disaster shows because it’s something that’s so overpowering and something that you can’t control. It’s the same thing in this area.
Sharp: How was the transition from actress to model?
Workman: I feel like, as you get older, especially in this city, you have to support yourself and acting is so competitive. I did modeling along the way. I absolutely love photography, so I think it sort of comes with the territory when you’re in this business. I didn’t want to be a model. I’m also vertically challenged. I’m very tiny, 5’3’’ and 98 lbs. But I love hosting the most.
Sharp: Why do you prefer hosting?
Workman: I can just be myself and be me and connect with people and do things that I love. If I’m bringing elements of my humour and personality into something that other people can enjoy then I couldn’t ask for a better job.
Sharp: You’ve done some improve. Does this help with your camera presence?
Workman: Ya, I did improve at Long Beach State when I was there. It just goes along with loving comedy. Being able to think on your feet is definitely a transferable skill. Just being a general smart ass.