By Laura Ferreiro
It sounds like the stuff of fairytales: a young, aspiring dancer-actress-singer gets contacted by Prince from out of the blue and asked to direct and star in a music video for his new single. This fantasy became stark reality for 18-year-old Danielle Curiel, when she received an email from an associate of the Purple One, requesting that she write a treatment for the video for his new single, "Breakfast Can Wait."
Curiel came up with a flirty, mildly erotic take on the song, which advocates that two lovers let their breakfast wait while they attend to other matters. She went on to star in the video as the lead dancer, the sizzling cook in the kitchen, and even as Prince himself! Prince doesn't make an appearance in the video — instead it features Curiel dressed up to resemble the Purple One, wearing a curly wig and fake mustache as she caresses the neck of a guitar.
"It was shocking to see that email. What? Prince the artist? Me?" Curiel tells Yahoo Music, still sounding as if she's in a state of disbelief. Curiel had moved to Los Angeles from her home in Miami and was pursuing her dreams of becoming a dancer and a musician when she received the missive. As Curiel tells it, Prince still won't reveal how he discovered her and it remains a mystery to this day. "He won't tell me how he found me," she says with a laugh. "He probably saw something of me online dancing."
Prince requested that Curiel send him a video of herself dancing to "Breakfast Can Wait" and asked her to write a treatment describing how she envisioned the video for the song unfolding. Prince liked her concept so much, he asked Curiel to direct and star in the video, and gave her almost complete creative control over the process.
"He didn’t even know I was gonna be Prince in the video," Curiel says. "When he saw my picture come up he said, 'That's crazy — I love it.' He was a very cool guy."
While it's easy to imagine an artist of Prince's stature breathing down Curiel's neck, he let her run with her ideas. "It was great — he was very quiet and wanted to see me work and do my thing," Curiel explains.
Initially Prince and Curiel corresponded exclusively via email, and they didn't meet in person until the video was being edited. "I first met him when the video was done in the editing process," she says. "He didn't want to come to the shoot because he didn't want me to be distracted or nervous."
That said, he did rein her in now and again, and everything had to be reviewed by his scrutinizing eye. "He had to approve everything because it's his video and his money," Curiel says. "At first I wrote the treatment with him being in the video — that had to change completely. There was a lot of back and forth to make the video perfect but he really appreciated my opinion."
The "Breakfast Can Wait" video has been viewed nearly 2 million times on VEVO to date, and has gotten a lot of critical acclaim and media attention. Now that the experience is behind her, Curiel says that the legendary artist taught her some valuable lessons. "With him giving me so much freedom, he taught me how to be my own person and he taught me to stick up for what I want," she says. She also expects that they'll stay in touch. "Prince loves helping young new talent and he'll probably help us out for sure," she says of her band, Curly Fryz, that she formed with her older sister.
Curiel also received a special invitation to fly out to Minnesota with her family to watch Prince perform on his home turf at Paisley Park. "My little sister is only 10 years old and he let her open for him," Curiel gushes. "She sang Etta James's 'At Last.' He called me up onstage to dance, which was really cool. He brought my whole family out for the concert and to meet the band."
Despite all that Prince has given her, Curiel still hopes he'll do one more thing. "He's very private, so I still haven't gotten a picture with him. That needs to happen!"