We had the opportunity to work with this dynamic duo that have graced the stage of the entertainment industry for more than a decade. We look into the journey of Donna & Harvey, unravelling their secrets to staying strong and dominant in the industry.
Donna, the emcee extraordinaire, can be described as one of the reigning queens of the business. With her easy charms and charismatic demeanour, this vibrant individual commands the stage with her presence. Donna is more than just a professional emcee, she’s an entertainer with the passion to liven up any room (and she has already brought life to thousands).
As the saying goes; behind every successful man, there is a woman. In this case, while the man is backstage, the woman showcases her magic on stage; making every show a success. Harvey is the main man behind Donna’s creative antics; cleverly synchronizing her every move with sound and visual effects. It is a feat to watch the duo at their best.
As we sat down with the fantastic pair, the interview unveiled some of the industry’s ‘insides’ which left us (a little) dumbfounded but stricken with laughter.
Why did you choose to be in the entertainment industry?
Donna: Working as a cleaner is tough, working in a petrol station is bad for your health, working as a shop assistant is boring. That’s why we went into entertainment! (Laughs).
Was it difficult to get to where you are at now?
Donna: Was it hard? Yes, but we got used to hard work. Did we have to face difficulties? Definitely!
What are some of the hurdles that you guys had to go through?
Donna: We were not paid for our first job and were dead broke, living on baked beans (and we still like baked beans to this day). Did the jobs come thick & fast? No, the jobs came slow and slower.
Harvey went knocking on door to door for 6 months, with all doors slammed in his face. Was it hard? You bet! Did we survive? You bet!
“We had a garage sale and sold off everything we owned to pay our rent and had another month’s supply of baked beans. Were we sad? No. We were over the moon that we’d burned our bridges and were embarking on this new empowering time of our lives. We were in it for the long haul! As Austin Powers would say….”Yeah, baby!””
Tell us about your ‘BIG BREAK’.
Donna: So, firstly, a creative agency took a ‘risk’ on us. Then came another, and another and just like magic, we were ‘hot!’ Reputation spreads like wildfire in this business. When the jobs came, we gave our best; the best we could give every time and that has always been our motto.
“Give our best to the audiences, the people who promote us and the people who work with us. Because ultimately, it’s a team effort, and if it wasn’t for them, we would not be where we are at now.”
We love and thank everyone. Mmmwaah! (Laughs).
How has working with creative agencies helped you in expanding yourselves as a duo?
Donna: Jobs that came to us through creative agencies are all different. Their client’s requirements are different. Our job is to work together with the creative agencies to meet the objectives of the clients. To do this, we are continually stretched – and this is great for expansion. We look forward to unusual requests (as long as they’re legal and ethical). This is how we expand.
What has been the memorable collaboration that you and Advocate have worked on?
Donna: We’ve worked with Advocate on numerous occasions and they have all been fun, exciting successful events. Two of the events were for very large audiences in the thousands and we’re always amazed to see the amount of work behind the scenes that goes into making these events a success. We know that hiccups are bound to happen when an event is going on ‘live’ but we’ve seen Advocate handle themselves well in all situations.
“It is always a pleasure to work with Advocate. They have a terrific team that provides excellent behind-the-scenes support. Advocate is one of the rare creative agencies that understand the importance of sound, lighting and video equipment.”
Advocate knows how to impact their audience and they deliver more than just a show. This sets them apart to be one of the best and not just ‘run of the mill’.
Their pre-event activities are also very interactive and experiential which puts the audience in the right mood before the ballroom doors even open. This makes our job so much easier and it’s no wonder their events are so successful.
Keep up the great work, guys!
How can creative agencies collaborate with individuals from your industry?
What are some of the value-add services we can provide for each other?
Donna: We think, we all need to work together as one unit. We all need each other. Treat each other with respect and be responsible for the roles we’re taking. For example, we can help each other by brainstorming ideas and concepts that can make the events a memorable experience for the clients.
How would you describe your experience working with creative agencies thus far?
Donna: Like all things in life, there’s the good, the bad and the indifferent. Not all creative agencies come from the same mould. Some event companies, (we will not call them creative agencies) are ‘fly by night’ and were just in it for the short term. You never see them again a year later. They were literally out to ‘take the money and run!’ They do not care whether they pay artists and we also know of some that took client’s deposit and disappeared off the planet. (Laughs).
What is the worst that could happen behind the scenes?
Donna: Sometimes, what happens behind the scenes can be very…messy.
Let me give you an example. Nerves can cause clients to become very high strung, especially if the event is very high profile or their job reputation is on the line. There was one event where the client started freaking out (over nothing). That caused the creative agency to also freak out, to the extend of packing up all their equipments and walk away!
Luckily, we managed to calm both of the parties down and got them back in focus. The event eventually turned out to be a huge success.
What would you tell other emcees on working with creative agencies? What can they expect?
Donna: We would tell emcees to know their own job and role in the big picture. To do this well, they need to ask lots of questions (from the creative agency). Also, it is advised to do their own research on the creative agencies or clients before event meetings, to be as prepared as possible.
Sometimes, the creative agencies are not well prepared. In fact, the words ‘blur like sotong’ also comes to mind. (Laughs). In which case, you will have to lead the meeting and gather as much information as possible.
Having worked with Advocate, they usually provide a program outline and a thorough follow-up to make sure you’re prepared. If you don’t have a creative agency like that, you have to stay on top of things. Or else…you’re toast! (Laughs).
How is ‘thinking out of the box’ important to your line of work?
Donna: The last thing you want to be is “same ol’, same ol’! Boring for us, boring for the client and not marketable by the creative agencies. You don’t need to think out of the box, you need to throw the box away!
Curiosity killed the cat but creativity…. (finish this sentence)
Donna: Made it dance! …our motto in life ‘Why walk when you can dance?’
Our Take As A Creative Agency
We are always thrilled to be working with talents such as Donna Daniels and Harvey orchestrating the show. From planning to executing the actual event, we are sure to unfold the true passion and artistic talents of an artist.
The emcees and artists have always been the glimmering stars for every event. Aside from professional ethics, we believe, it’s not about what an artist can do, but how they do it. And with that, they’re sure to have clients knocking on their doors.
Donna is a professional show host and the ‘Master of Ceremonies’ (or MC). Watch out for this powerhouse as she belts out songs in Cantonese, Hokkien, Mandarin, Indonesian, Japanese and even tagalog. In fact, she can sing songs of 10 different languages. From corporate events to parties, Donna & Harvey has experienced it all.
To know more, visit www.donnadaniels.com.