Playwright Dana Hicks-Hungerford Sharing Her Story

Dana Hicks-Hungerford (Courtesy of Nigel Jackson)

( ENSPIRE She Did That ) How and Why Hicks-Hungerford Opens Herself

ENSPIRE Contributor: Petra Wolf

Dana Hicks-Hungerford is an actress, playwright casting director, and best-selling international author. Her stage play “A Woman’s Love” sold out its first weekend, at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club in Washington DC. She’s also working with her husband Brian on her production company, the Hungerford Foundation. She has time to be an entrepreneur with her brand “YOU MAKE THE BAG.” the handbag line seen on BET. Last month, Hicks-Hungerford told her story about her struggles with drug addiction to audiences on National Tell A Story Day. 

Hicks-Hungerford through both creative works and honest discussions is attempting to bring awareness. Seeking help with mental health and drug addiction are unfortunately still stigmatized. A successful woman like Hicks-Hungerford being open can kick start conversations. While Mental Health Awareness Month has passed, ENSPIRE hopes to continue these conversations about mental health and solutions to self-doubt.  

Dana Hicks-Hungerford (Courtesy of Nigel Jackson)

ENSPIRE spoke with Hicks-Hungerford herself about her own story. 

How did you get your start in theater?

I was cast for a stage play with the DC-based production company, Timeless Entertainment. I had been acting already for television and film, but theatre is a different beast. I was truly nervous, but I gave it a shot and loved it! I’ve since worked on multiple productions with Timeless Entertainment and DC Black Broadway. It gave me a different outlook about theatre actors. You have to bring your “A-Game” from start to finish in the theatre game because once the show starts it’s “no do-overs.” Working in TV and film you can cut and do your scenes over again as needed.  Any actor that starts off in theatrical performances is off to a great start in their career. Theatre is truly one of my passions now and I look forward to touring my stage play “A Woman’s Love” around the Nation.  My husband Brian Hungerford and I (Hungerford Distribution) produced our debut weekend at the Historic Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on May 14-15, 2022, with 2 sold-out shows. Our first stop is in Charlotte, NC on September 2, 2023, at the beautiful Knight Theater. Tickets can be purchased at

What led you to create Official Bag Ladies and the brand “YOU MAKE THE BAG?  

I was intrigued and inspired by another young lady who had a hand-painted bag line. I loved the concept and thought to myself that it would be awesome to paint something positive on a purse that would motivate people and promote positivity at the same time. I was consumed with bringing my vision to life. After about 3 months of wrecking my brain in the middle of the night, it hit me!  “YOU MAKE THE BAG” was it! The bag does not make you.  I have always loved designer bags and own some myself.  I also own cute bags that I’ve picked up at consignment shops, Zara, and some that have no names on them at all. I feel just as fly, cute, and fabulous carrying an inexpensive bag with a cute outfit, as I do caring a designer bag.  Honestly, I have had several customers tell me that they get more compliments wearing “YOU MAKE THE BAG” than wearing their designer bags. In a world full of so many people copying everything that they see on social media, I wanted to put out a different narrative and image. You are enough and you can look amazing without spending $2,000-$30,000 on a bag. Official Bag Ladies is currently in the process of working with our first “youth artist.” Our goal is to employ talented kids to enhance their artistic skills while making money and learning how to run a business at the same time. Our children are definitely the future. They deserve to have the resources and knowledge that a lot of us didn’t have at their age. Our storefront location is at 162 Waterfront Street, at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.  YOU MAKE THE BAG will definitely have you standing out in the crowd! 

Has having the spotlight on you often been a big pressure in your career? 

Not really, because even though I’m doing a lot, I still stay in my own little world. I’ve mastered the art of tuning out the noise of negativity, naysayers, and people that serve no positive purpose in my life. I’ve been on a rollercoaster ride, and through hell and hot water on my journey of life.  My only focus now is self-growth, pursuing my passion, and spending time with family and people that love me. Lastly and most importantly is praising GOD daily for his GRACE and MERCY, while remaining grateful and humble every step of the way.

How do you practice self-care and juggle your career?  

It’s simple, I don’t put money or work before my family or my mental health.  I do what I need to do. If I get tired I’ll stop. I use to burn myself out trying to do so much and please so many people. Currently, I’ve been doing what’s best for me first.

What is the advice that you would give to younger people struggling or doubting themselves?  

Look at the great traits within yourself that GOD has given and push forward. Also, find a mentor or ask someone to find you a mentor, if you don’t know where to look. Surround yourself with positive people that are motivated and goal driven, because the people you hang out with can make you or break you. 

How can theater and creative works help in the conversation about mental health?  

I think just bringing more stories to the stage that highlight what mental health looks like. Being creative and really real could be very impactful. Mental Health issues happen throughout many people’s lives around the GLOBE. It sometimes has a devastating impact and sometimes it’s not so bad. We just have to keep pushing the resources and getting the knowledge out to help people and potentially save lives. 

“A Women’s Love The Stage Play” Screengrab from Blumenthal Performing Arts website

Dana Hicks-Hungerford is not stopping anytime soon. The Hungerford Foundation is still producing “A Women’s Love” and tickets are still available for their North Carolina show in September 2023. She also created the “Underdog Tour” with Natalia Me’Gan CEO Schenika Quattlebaum sharing their success stories as women entrepreneurs with audiences. You can follow Hicks-Hungerford on Instagram here. 

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