Academy of Art's Daniel Waller scores red carpet opportunity

Danny Waller Courtesy Academy of Art Sports Information

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - Sometimes dreams are realized sooner than one might expect.

For Daniel Waller, former Academy of Art University men's soccer athlete and multimedia communications major, interviewing film and television stars in Hollywood might not have seemed in the realm of possibility four years ago.

Instead, through his dedicated efforts in the classroom, Waller now is working as a multimedia journalist for On The Red Carpet and having the opportunity to interact with some of the highest profile individuals on the screen today including Will Ferrell, Jodie Foster, Glenn Close and Seth Rogan.

“I am extremely excited seeing my four years of hard work at Academy of Art University paying off,” Waller said. “It's a lot of hard work, not very good money, and long and strange hours, but I know where I want to be and I will keep on putting in the hours until I am there. Living in Hollywood, going to different studios, and lots of film stand-ups for On The Red Carpet is a great experience and very interesting.”

In October of this year, Waller landed the position of field producer/production assistant for ABC's entertainment news show On The Red Carpet.

Built from his work with ABC 7 Eyewitness News, Waller since has made the move to Los Angeles where he now regularly attends VIP premieres while interviewing celebrities for TV show releases, book signings and events.

Setting up the opportunity with On The Red Carpet was Waller's role as a news assistant with KABC-TV in addition to being a freelance host for Young Hollywood.

These two post-graduation jobs offered a chance for Waller to hone his skills in not only reporting, but story production as well.

Prior to his graduation from Academy of Art University this past May, Waller was reporting regularly for the Academy of Art University's K-ART News and, one of the biggest U.K. movie blogs responsible for creating and editing video reports on the latest films.

In a very hands-on environment at Academy of Art, Waller was able to grow tremendously as an artist and one of the first four-year men's soccer players. He was contributing to a new School of Multimedia Communications and also coincidentally found himself as the true beginning point for the ART U men's soccer program back in 2008.

“I learned everything from the Academy of Art University,” Waller said. “My coach Daniel Rosaia was very instrumental in me being where I am as he taught me the Three D's - dedication, determination and desire - which I used toward my soccer, my studies and now my career. He was a huge influence and I thank him for trusting me and giving me my opportunity of a lifetime. Coach Rosaia and Colin Preston have helped me since my first day.”

Supported on the field and in the classroom, Waller demonstrated an active passion for absorbing as much as he could. He operated with a confidence in soccer that earned him a three-year stint as team captain and led him to become one of the most versatile ART U athletes in program history.

Committed to his studies and even occasionally blending the two with video projects like the Urban Knights' 3rd Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament, Waller learned valuable skills from multimedia communications instructors such as KTVU FOX 2′s weekend sports anchor Joe Fonzi.

Having had the chance to watch Waller's progression first hand, Colin Preston, the associate athletics director for compliance, offered a ringing endorsement.

“Daniel Waller epitomizes the role of artist-athlete at Academy of Art University,” Preston said. “Succeeding both on the soccer field and in the classroom as a multimedia communications major gave him the opportunities to go out and succeed and now he's working for On The Red Carpet. We are looking forward to watching him in the future and seeing him on television. For Daniel, the sky is the limit. His personality and work ethic are beyond the majority of students I've met and we're very excited for him.”

One particular faculty member played an instrumental role in Waller's success. Jan Yanehiro, current director of the School of Multimedia Communications and 15-year co-host of Evening Magazine in San Francisco, helped guide Waller along his path, instilling confidence in the young South London, England, native throughout his four years at Academy of Art University.

“I'm thrilled that Daniel found his passion while taking our classes in multimedia communications," Yanehiro said. "I feel like a proud mom... as I took Daniel to his first press screening and to his first celebrity interview with singer/actress Mandy Moore. From that day forward, Daniel has soared. Who would have guessed that he would then be slapping super star Will Ferrell on the face? (Will asked for it!) Daniel's Hollywood adventures are just beginning!"

Waller returned the compliments.

“Jan Yanehiro was my director and mentor,” he said. “She was such an influence and always had her door open for me to ask questions. She told me I had to be in Los Angeles and now here I am, but Jan and the whole multimedia communications department have been so amazing and taught me so much. There is no way you can fail as they will do everything to help you.”

Once a captain, always a captain. Looking back, Waller felt he would be remiss if he didn't offer appreciation to his fellow men's soccer teammates with whom he made lifelong bonds in four years at Academy of Art University. Seen at multiple ART U matches this past fall, Waller maintains the utmost respect for his Urban Knights.

“And my teammates - they have taught me so much about life and friendship a real mixture of culture and people from all types of life,” Waller said. “We have been through the good times and the bad and I am glad I experienced my soccer career with the team I did. There isn't another soccer team in the world like us.”

Through an exciting adventure that now has taken him to Hollywood, Waller remains ever humble and invigorated by the support systems he encountered at Academy of Art. The athletics department, multimedia communications instructors like Yanehiro and Fonzi, and numerous others from the institution stay close to Waller's heart as he navigates a city of stars.

“I was an original Urban Knight and an original multimedia communications student, and what I have learned is that everyone in the athletics and multimedia communications departments want you to succeed,” Waller said.  “They want you to win and they want you to graduate so listen to them because your success is all they care about.”

When asked if he could pass along one piece of advice to current and future artists based on his experience, Waller seemed to echo the essence of the “Three D's” he once learned.

“My one bit of advice is stick with it,” Waller said. “There are good and bad times as a student-athlete, but follow your dreams. Everyone has tough times. I did as well, but I stuck through it and now I have graduated and am working in Hollywood. If I can do, it anyone can.”

Find more samples of Waller's work at his website and YouTube: