Susan has enjoyed a diverse and exciting career as an actor in film, television, animation voice over and commercials, as well as in award winning theater with Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights at prestigious regional theaters. She has also directed several plays and staged readings, written original plays and co-wrote and directing a short film.
Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Susan graduated high school from Baltimore School For the Arts and later received a B.F.A from Boston University. Upon graduating she moved to San Francisco where she worked in commercials and print for companies such as Toyota, Tse, Hidden Valley Ranch, Apple, Hewlitt-Packard and Gap. While in San Francisco she also played leading and supporting roles in theater productions with American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, CA Shakespeare Theater, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Marin Theatre Company, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and later at Indiana Repertory Theater.
In Los Angeles, Dalian found more opportunity working as an actor in roles in film, television, and commercials some of which include: The Brothers directed by Gary Hardwick with Morris Chestnut, Shamar Moore and Gabrielle Union, The Kid directed by Jon Turtletaub with Bruce Willis, Emily Mortimer and Chi McBride, Undefeated directed by Walter Hill with Wesley Snipes, Room 6 directed by Micheal Hurst, I'm Through With White Girl's directed by Jennifer Sharp, Chevy commercial directed by Mark Pellington, Star Trek: Voyager, The Practice, Felicity directed by J.J Abrams & Todd Holland, The Hughley's with D.L Hughley, Joey with Matt LeBlanc, the voice of "Storm" in Wolverine and the X-men and Cap Com Video Game, and the voice of "Haku" in the popular anime series Naruto as well as several video games.
Susan has performed lead and supporting roles in stage productions with many Los Angeles theater companies, some of which include: South Coast Repertory in plays with Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights Lynn Nottage (Crumbs from the Table of Joy) and Tracy Letts (The Man from Nebraska) and Bill Rauch (Lovers and Executioners), The Actors’ Gang directed by Tim Robbins (Mephisto, The Guys), Bill Rauch & Tracy Young (Medea, Macbeth, Cinderella) and Tracy Young (Dreamplay), Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company directed by Lisa Wolpe (The Merchant of Venice) and 24th Street Theater (The Importance of Being Earnest) directed by Gregg Daniel.
In 2005 Dalian branched out from acting into writing and co-wrote the play, Ambrosia, that explores the relationships between grandmothers and granddaughters produced originally in Los Angeles and later at the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival (Fringe NYC). She also wrote an original comedy play, The Real Housewives of Tusktown, that was produced in Mammoth Lakes, CA.
From 2014 to 2018 Susan was Resident Director at Sierra Classic Theatre in Mammoth Lakes, CA where she directed non-traditional Shakespeare productions: A Midsummer Night's Dream set in the 2014 town of Mammoth Lakes, Two Gentlemen of Verona set in "the talkies" era of Hollywood, The Merchant of Venice set in the 1849 U.S. westward expansion era, As You Like It set in 1969 CA "Summer of Love" and Macbeth set in a post-apocalyptic 2069. She has also directed other productions for Sierra Classic Theatre that include John Patrick Shanley's Outside Mullingar, and a staged reading of Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn. She also directed The Importance of Being Earnest, and a theater for young audiences play Art Dog for Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre.
In 2018 Susan began working as a director in development of new plays when she directed a staged reading of The Narcissist Next Door written by Ellen Buckley at The Matrix Theater in Los Angeles. In June of 2019 that play received a full production as part of Hollywood Fringe 2019 where it received a Hollywood Fringe Encore Request as well as a Double Sweet Bitter Lemons Critics and Audience Award. Since then she has worked extensively with playwrights in development with new works directing staged and virtual readings: Lie After Lie After Lie by Stephen Dierkes (Cal Tech: MACH 33 Science Driven Playwright Festival in collaboration with Pasadena Playhouse), Broken by Aaron Braxton and Waiting by Aja Houston (Inkwell Theater New Play Development), A Bagfull of Stars by Dionna Michelle, The Honeycomb Theory by Garrett Mercer, Token by Bernardo Cubria, and How To Raise a Freeman by Zakiyyah Alexander (AMMO Theatre Company), Iseult et Tristan by Pia Wilson (IAMA Theatre Company, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club), Villians by Marq Ewing (LA Writers Center) and Breaking Barriers by Katrina D. RiChard (USC's MFA Playwright Festival).
During the pandemic in 2020 Dalian directed Shakespeare's Henry VI Part 2 and Richard III in the inaugural event Undiscovered Shakespeare, a public arts and humanities series co-produced by Santa Cruz Shakespeare, UCSC Shakespeare Workshop, and The Humanities Institute. She returned in 2021 to direct Troilus and Cressida.
Susan's has also directed film projects including a high concept, virtual reality 3D film of scenes from Macbeth and Hamlet featuring Michelle Hurd, Neil Flynn, Eddie Steeples, and Kelly Perine with Shakespeare in the Sphere. In 2018, Susan co-directed and co-wrote the short film Bite Me which had its World Premiere screening at Mammoth Lakes Film Festival 2019 and was also selected to screen at the 2019 Catalyst Content Festival & Festival Angaelica.
Dalian has been nominated for an NAACP award for acting, received an LA Weekly Ensemble Award (Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella), and in 2021 she won an Audie Award for her audiobook narration for the novel When No One is Watching for HarperCollins Publishing.
Susan recently participated in writer/performer Chris Wells' writers workshop where she is working on her original script about the accomplished and compelling lives of three mixed race women spanning three different eras of history - The Crimean War, Reconstruction, and The Vietnam War. Her most recent stage directing project was David Ives' Broadway hit Venus in Fur at Pico Theater starring Malcolm Barrett and Cloie Wyatt Taylor. Susan is currently one of the Associate Artistic Directors at PlayPenn.