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She may love comedy and even harbour dreams of doing stand-up someday, but Dana Workman can get serious when she has to. Take, for instance, the considerable resolve that must be required to keep a straight face while investigating some of the stranger cases onHaunted Highway.
The six-part paranormal reality show she co-hosts with rock star Ozzy Osbourne’s son Jack sees the pair, as well as second team Jael de Pardo and Devin Marble, travel to the likes of Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Arkansas and Louisiana to seek evidence of hellhounds, skin walkers, ghosts and various other cryptozoological mysteries. Along the way they chat up an odd assortment of locals eager to tell their tales of terror.
“We’re not there to judge,” she says by phone from Los Angeles. “We’re there to truly investigate these things with an open mind. But with the things that we do possibly find – or don’t find – we need to be sceptical about it because we are out there by ourselves, and I hear a branch crack and I jump!
“But there are things that we experience that we can’t explain necessarily. We don’t have it bottled in a jar for you. We can’t show you it, we can’t quite explain it. So you tend to blow those people off, like whatever, but I get it now. A lot of little things kind of happen that you don’t connect until you leave somewhere.”
The L.A. native’s journey along the Haunted Highway – sorry – began years ago with small roles on sitcoms likeMalcolm in the Middle and 8 Simple Rules… for Dating My Teenage Daughter. But Workman found her niche as a TV host, working on shows like Victoria Secret TV and Poker2Nite before landing the Haunted Highwaygig.
“I realized that I just didn’t have a passion for acting, for perfecting a script,” she says. “I just wanted to make jokes and make people laugh, and I knew I was good connecting with people and talking to people. So I kind of fell into hosting and realized I really, really loved it, and I was not half bad at it.”
Workman’s interest in “anything weird” was nurtured by her love of The X-Files, a show she admits to be being “obsessed” with when she was younger. “I was a strange child.”
Her odd interests might be genetic. She recounts the story of how her father told her after the casting process for Haunted Highway had been completed that he had spent three weeks back in 1972 in Scotland “in the back of an ice cream van” searching for the Loch Ness Monster with a group of friends.
“He was like, ‘Did you tell them about the time…?’ Excuse me? Didn’t know that one dad!
“It’s funny because I love comedy, and I’ve been lucky with that; I got a show where I get to talk. And the other thing I love is strange phenomena; I love natural disaster stuff. Anything that kind of scares me in that realm I love, and that show feeds on that other passion of mine.”
Workman has high praise for her co-star Osbourne who is often seen on the show leading the charge to investigate anything potentially unusual or unknown.
“He’s very, very smart,” she says. “And he does not get scared easily at all. He also seems to know everything about everything so there was never a shortage of information exchange between the two of us. I think we kind of kept each other grounded in different ways. He’s a really great, nice, down-to-earth guy and definitely keeps a very sceptical approach to all this as well.”
Of course the future of Haunted Highway remains up in the air in the wake of Osbourne’s multiple sclerosis diagnosis this past April. Workman says she is in a “holding pattern” until the season’s last episode airs Tuesday night, after which she hopes to hear about the show’s fate.
“So I have no idea,” she says when asked about the possibility of a second season. “I feel like I’m the last to know anything so I just sit tight and cross my fingers.”
In the meantime, Workman says she is in the early stages of developing her own show for Haunted Highway‘s American network, SyFy. While understandably coy about the concept, she says she hopes to “mix my love for this field [the unexplained] and how my interest in it has grown” with her love for comedy.
“I think there are a lot of people who are interested in sci-fi and the unexplained, always watching these ancient alien shows and sci-fi shows, and I think there needs to be another show that sort of brings all that together.”
And maybe she’ll finally try her hand at stand-up?
“I go every week, and I know all the up-and-coming comedians,” she says. “I love watching, and I’m on the brink of really sitting down and starting to figure out my niche in that area and I love it. I feel like I could rock it sometimes and other times, nah, I’m going to get booed off. You won’t know until you try, right?”
The last episode of Haunted Highway’s first season airs on SPACE Tuesday, August 7 at 10 p.m., ET.