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Dana Gaier Gives Voice to Despicable Me

Livingston middle school student voices role of Edith in "Despicable Me," now showing in movie theaters.

Twelve-year-old Dana Gaier has something that everyone wants. It's low, raspy, and has enabled her serve as a lead in this summer's box office hit, Despicable Me.

Gaier is the voice of Edith, one of three orphans girls who are adopted by super-villian, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), to serve as pawns for his next evil scheme.

Gaier landed the part back in 2008, when Hollywood couldn't find the voice they were looking for in Los Angeles or New York City.

"It's a funny story actually," said Sherry Gaier, Dana's mother. "Dana was away on her school camping trip during auditions. They still hadn't found the voice they wanted, so they extended the audition and heard her when she got back."

Within a week of her audition, Universial Studio's casting director was calling to make arrangements for Gaier to be flown out to L.A. for a callback. It was there that she met with the writers and directors who jokingly told her the "bad news," that she was going to have to stay in L.A. because she got the part.

Voicing for the animated film presented a new kind of theatrical challenge for Gaier, who is used to doing community theatre. She was no longer practicing scenes on stage. Instead, she had to imagine what the scene would look like and match her voice to that image. Gaier recorded her voice in both L.A. and New York City.  Additionally, her recordings were, for the most part, done completely solo. The movie's premier was the first time Gaier met most of the cast, which included Hollywood Stars like Steve Carell, Julie Andrews, Jason Segal and Miranda Cosgrove. 

"Dana was so excited to meet everyone. When Steve Carell met Dana at the premier, he said, 'Finally I get to meet you!' She was so happy," said Sherry Gaier.

Despicable Me was Gaier's first movie-making experience, but she has performed for community theatre in Livingston, Parsippany, and West Orange. Her parts have included lead roles in shows like Seussical The Musical, Fiddler on The Roof and Alice in Wonderland.  Sherry Gaier laughed when she admitted, "Dana played Jojo in Seussical. Jojo is a boy's role and Dana beat out all the boys in her audition because her voice was so much deeper than their voices."

Gaier's introduction to acting began haphazardly, when she and her family were having dinner at a local pizza parlor. At the age of five, Gaier had enough panache to go from table to table and ask people questions. When she sat down to eat, a talent scout in the restaurant left the Gaier family with her business card. The Gaiers didn't follow up with the agent, but the gesture sparked their daughters interest in working with local theatres.

"Dana is extremely outgoing, she has a great sense of humor, and she has always loved performing," said Sherry Gaier.

Besides acting, Gaier is an athlete and a musician. She plays field hockey and lacrosse for the middle school, as well as basketball and soccer for the town. In her spare time, Gaier also plays in the guitar, writes her own music, and sings. You can listen to her recently recorded song Without You online. Currently, Gaier has taken her talents to sleep away camp, where she can involve herself in both performing and athletic activities.

After she returns from camp, Gaier plans to keep acting. Her performance in Despicable Me serves as a strong foundation for her future plans to act professionally.

"Dana says she wants to keep performing. She's young and we definitely hope she continues all of her interests," said Sherry Gaier. Whether she strumming her guitar or hitting the field with her lacrosse stick or playing the mischievous orphan in a pink beanie in Despicable Me, Dana Gaier is a rising star.

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