Cinnamon Girl: Dani Pallotta

Dara Bankole

Cinnamon Girl is a series of profiles on the people who are helping bring this project into being — aka your chance to get to know the early members of this blossoming collective. The title is an homage to the Neil Young song, but we’ll update it for boys, non-binary and all other preferred gender presentations.

1. Hi, what’s your name?

Dani Pallotta 

2. How are you involved in Cinnamon?

I write the monthly Mantra column.

3. Wow, what a cool talent! When did you first get interested in that?

I’m one of the 2 million+ people out there trying to build a career as a professional writer. I’ve always written: short stories, essays, poems, scripts, and stacks on stacks of journals. Got a degree in screenwriting (which is what I’m specifically pursuing). Cinnamon has been a great chance to share more personal, introspective essays, which are a lovely change of pace.

4. Can you tell me about the food and drink you like to put into your body?

I’m big on Mediterranean food. Meats and sauces! Meats and sauces! I could eat it everyday. 

5. Can you tell me about the kind of art and literature you like to put into your brain?

I’m impressed by any art that involves an extraordinary amount of dedication and commitment, usually over long periods of time. LACMA’s Kubrick exhibit had years of work on his Napoleon project that never saw the light of day. Linklater’s multi-decade films like Boyhood, and the Before Sunrise trilogy are so special to me. The kind of art that inspires me requires a mix of obsession and perseverance. It’s not just impressive on its own, the labor behind it is it’s own performance too. 

6. How do you like to care for yourself?

Solo time. The most grounded I can be is when I give myself complete freedom. Get up whenever I want, take a long time to get ready (a hair & face mask), make myself a meal. I’ll journal, or watch a mid-budget Ashley Judd crime flick. Just loafing around the house alone feeling clean is medicine for me. 

7. In your dream world, how would you spend the majority of your time?

Half the year working really hard on a creative professional project I’m passionate about, and half the year getting to chill and spend time with my family/friends. I have a strong work ethic, but I’m not a workaholic. I want creative fulfillment and lots of loafing. 

8. Tell me about a living creature you’ve had a lot of love for that wasn’t a human, or about your favorite plant.

We had multiple dogs growing up, but I had a special bond with a husky mutt we named Goliath. He was cranky as hell to everyone else, but slept in my bed every night. Foreshadowed a lot of boyfriends in my twenties, actually. 

9. Speaking of the L word, what does love mean to you?

It means you take all of it. You accept all of a person, you give them a break when they’re hurting/acting out, and you give them room to be themselves without judgement. If there’s a problem, you talk about it — immediately, and only to each other. If you want actual deep, connective love — with a friend, a lover, a family member — you cannot expect them to always make you happy. You accept it all. 

With that said — I’m not an “unconditional love” person. I’m the child of two addicts and I keep an emotional bank account. More withdrawals than deposits over time and you’re out of my life. 

10. What were you like when you were a little kid?

A true weirdo. I played pretend games a lot, sometimes with kids, but mostly alone. Five different imaginary friends — all my identical twins with their own distinct personality, and names that started with a “D.” Destiny, Diane, Darlene, etc.  Sometimes I’d come to school in different outfits with different personas. In first grade I tried to convince a classmate I had a twin cousin (genius) and brought a different sweater to school to change into when I was unconvincingly trying to pretend I was not… just me in a different sweater. I was extremely out of touch with reality. It took me a long time to realize that, subconsciously, denying reality was how I survived my childhood with my heart intact. 

11. Where do you live now and why did that place call out to you?

I just recently moved to Burbank, near downtown. I actually felt a little conflicted moving from Atwater Village — a cool neighborhood — to a more suburban setup. But my new place is massive, a true adult upgrade, and was previously inhabited by the grandmother of one of my close friends, which feels special. I feel so much more at home here than any place I’ve ever lived before. There’s a calm that comes with gaining square footage and I’m thankful for it as I accept more and more that I’m in my mid-30s and ready for the next chapter of my life. 

12. Tell me about your personal style and how dressing your body is part of your life.

My current fave ensemble is high-rise Madewell Jeans, and a ringer tee from Big Bud Press. I’m such a jeans and t-shirt person. So many of my friends are big risk takers with what they wear and I truly admire them for it. I’ve always been anxious to wear a particular trend or style, have someone look at me and go, “oh I know exactly who you are.” They probably do it now anyway. I should take more chances. 

13. Tell me about a record that changed your life.

Fiona Apple, When The Pawn I bought it when I was 16 from the Virgin Megastore in Times Square on a family vacation to New York. Listened to it the whole time I was there, the flights back, and still listen to it regularly. I loved the Spice Girls too, but Fiona felt like music that was just for me and no one else. It was soulful, angry, beautiful, and connected me to a part of myself that I was just starting to understand. 

14. Tell me about a person you admire with your whole heart.

I feel like I’m gonna lose my feminist card but honestly — my husband. He’s got so much integrity. A brilliant, meticulous hard worker who doesn’t cut corners. He gives compassionate, honest, insightful feedback to friends and family when they’re struggling. He takes care of the things and people he loves with thoughtfulness. My favorite thing about him is he doesn’t put anyone on a pedestal, so if someone is rude to him — even if they’re the most famous person at the party — he’s like, “fuck that guy.” He’s just damn good people. 

15. Tell me about a time you showed resilience and grace, even if it was tough.

When the startup I helped build shut down, the building we had been in for five years had to be packed up in a matter of two weeks. Instead of just peacing out on my last day, I worked those two extra weeks without pay to help clear out the space I had helped put together. It was exhausting on many levels, but the right thing to do. How often are you given the opportunity for literal closure? 

16. Who is your favorite rapper? (Oh yeah? Name five of their albums! JK, continue.)

Busta Rhymes is fun as hell. He raps wicked fast, and he’s SILLY. He’s a silly guy! He also has dozens of bangers. Love him. 

17. What is the best skincare or makeup item you’ve ever encountered?

I wrote about my favorite serum back in June, but as far as makeup — there are two lipsticks that go with any look, occasion, mood: MAC’s Velvet Teddy and Milk’s Wifey.  

18. What is your favorite place to visit?

I absolutely adore Universal Studios. I fell in love with it as a child who knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in film and television. I had an annual pass a couple years ago and would go alone all the time. Take my time strolling. Grab an iced coffee and hop on the studio tram tour for its 60 minute duration. Also — Did you know Uni has two full bars inside the park?  Mulligans Irish Pub by Minions and Hog’s Head Pub in Wizarding World. They also have Modelo tall cans at every snack cart, and can’t forget Duff Gardens in Simpsons World. And of course there’s Hollywood Horror Nights, my favorite night of the year, every year, hands down. I’m always happy as hell in that place. 

19. Who in your family are you the most like or closest to? (If it’s no one, pick someone else relationally close and describe why you’re similar or have a close relationship.)

My cousin Cassie has been my hero since we were kids. She’s only three years older than me, and introduced me to a lot of formative music when we were teens. We would record radio shows on her Talk Girl, and I would stand on the pegs of her bike while we rode to Blockbuster and Pizza Hut to collect supplies for a rad night. As adults, we still spend time together regularly, because even if she wasn’t my family, she would be my friend. We have similar taste in independent and foreign films. We have similar political perspectives. And I love her wife more than most of my other blood relatives. 

20. Is there life on Mars?

Oh 100%.  

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