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Longevity in creative spaces can be measured by determination, hard work, and remaining true to one’s overall vision. CBS’ “Ghosts” breakout star Danielle Pinnock is the embodiment of perseverance in an industry that is not the easiest to break into.
Starring as Alberta on CBS’ hit show, Pinnock is currently creating from a space that fulfills the different sides of who she is. Danielle is the co-creator of the successful #HashtagBooked Instagram account (an honestly refreshing reflection on acting while Black) while acquiring TikTok success with her hilariously spot-on skits. “I think when I’m able to create my own things, I think then people can see and say, Okay, wait. That’s actually the artist that she wants to be,” says Pinnock.
What does the path look like moving forward for Danielle Pinnock? It is rooted in the understanding that Pinnock must experience self-fulfillment in order to be the selfless, caring individual that she prides herself to be. Pinnock reiterates, “My biggest way of prioritizing joy is making sure that my cup is full enough so that I can give to others.”
In conversation with The Curvy Fashionista’s March cover star, we sit down with Danielle Pinnock to discuss her thoughts on intention and making her dreams a reality.
Your hilarious portrayal as Alberta on CBS’s “Ghosts” has received so much critical acclaim and rightfully so. How has this journey been for you with bringing this colorful yet scene-stealing character to life?
Oh my gosh! First of all, it has been a dream come true. To literally book this role in the middle of a global pandemic and for us to be on-set literally working with the best ensemble on the planet Earth. It just feels surreal and I’m so honored to be bringing life to Alberta. She is dynamic. She is truly a hot mess. She’s sometimes out of pocket. This is everybody’s auntie. She literally is a Grandmother from the 1920s. I just think that she’s so brilliant. She has not only just so much ego, but she really truly believes in herself.
She has so much confidence and it feels so good as a plus-sized Black woman to be playing somebody this beautiful and this effervescent. I just feel so honored to be in this role.
As a Plus-Sized actress, How has your experience been when it comes to the costume portion of your career?
You know? It’s actually been quite a journey but particularly in TV and film I would say. A lot of the time for theater you just do your measurements or like the theater that I was doing, it’s like, you kind of just wear your own costumes at most times. For Black people in general, when it comes to costume, styling, and makeup, we’ve been giving each other tips like the Underground Railroads for years in the industry.
You’re like, “Sis, make sure you bring your girdle. Girl, make sure you bring your foundation.” you know what I mean? Just tips that have really truly transcended time. I feel like a lot of times earlier on in my career, I was bringing my own outfits. It was just kind of like, “Hey, do you have tights or what brands do you shop at?”
It was always like Torrid back then. Anthropologie didn’t have a plus section back then. It was very, very limited. I would always just figure out what to do. But I have to give a huge shout out to my Aunt Marcia Johnson who was the first kind of plus-size style icon that I had in my family. She (as a teenager before I went out to college) was like, “We need to teach you how to dress.” My Grandmother had me in these three-piece Steve Harvey suits going to school and I looked crazy! I mean, it’s the typical plus-size kids struggle you know, Burlington Coat Factory? That was the jam.
I just looked like a grown-up Maxine Waters love child. I just looked extremely grown up all of the time. Cardigans and covered, you know? It was all of those things so I never really got to explore style when I was growing up.
It wasn’t until my Aunt was like, “No, Sis. You’re not going to college like this.” and she took me to my first plus-size store I think in Brooklyn called Lele Belize. I don’t know if they’re there anymore but it felt like I was walking into euphoria. I was like, “Oh my God. They go up larger than a 13? They have additional sizes here? They have swimsuits and what is peplum? Oh my gosh! Leather pants?”
My world expanded so because of her guidance in my life with style, I was able throughout my college years to redeem my high school years when I was looking crazy. Anytime I would have to come to set, I always had something cute. I was like, “as long as I look cute, that’s all that matters.” I’m so grateful for ‘Ghost’ because this costume is custom-made for me. Delicious, crushed velvet ensemble giving 1920s realness.
If you were given the opportunity to design your own clothing line collaboration, who would it be with and why?
Listen, that’s a good question. Okay, so my dream pairing would be diarrablu, (who I’m actually currently wearing right now). Phenomenal clothing! Everybody check them out! They are fantastic. They have plus sizes and extended sizes. They are just the bomb. The outfits? They’re all custom. She’s utterly fantastic.
I would love a diarrablu and ELOQUII pairing because ELOQUII has always held it down for me. The two-day shipping is the bomb.com! I always know that I can look good and solid. I mean the suits that ELOQUII has? I just love them. If I can get like a diarrablu, ELOQUII, Danielle Pinnock moment? It would be a dream. Without a question.
If you were able to star in your dream biopic role at this very moment, who would you want to portray, and in what would you deliver said performance?
I don’t know. Let me think on that. Let me think because I know that there are just people that I admire and I love so much. That’s a good question. To be honest, one of my dream roles is to be able to play a Disney villain. My dream role is to be a Disney villain in real time. Ursula is my girl. I would love to do her like how they did ‘Cruella’ where it was like a pre-story to who she was.
If Ursula could be Black? I’m here for it! She’s in the water. She’s half-woman but she’s also an octopus. How did we get here? You know what I mean? I want to know! Make it make sense! Was she on a ship? Was she on a cruise ship and then fell in? There’s so many questions!
#HashtagBooked is the incredibly refreshing yet successful actors-based Instagram account that you share alongside actress Lanisa Frederick. How did #HashtagBooked originally came into fruition and expanded into the talk-show “INTERMISSION” that you also share together?
Yes, absolutely. Lanisa and I met in 2013. We were both understudies at the Goodman Theater. We were in a basement eight days a week. Eight shows a week. We got very close because we just never knew when we were going to be on stage. We were often waiting in the wings for our chance. I think a lot of #HashtagBooked started there without us even knowing.
When we both moved to Los Angeles in 2017, we were so tired of being in audition waiting rooms because acting in LA is like the acting Olympics. You’re there with the best of the best. I could be in an audition room with half of the cast of Living Single and then like somebody who has 2 million followers on Instagram. You’re kind of like, “where is the rhyme and reason?” There’s none.
We wanted to talk about those experiences and all of the things that we’ve kept sacred as Black actors over the last few years/in the decade-plus we’ve been working. We created these sketches and they went viral. Still to this day, my favorite one is us going in for the one Black ‘Handmaid” role.
Many people identified with it because they’re like, “Wow, I feel seen. I’ve gone through these experiences as well, too.” Last year in the pandemic, we went viral for an “I take responsibility” spoof on all of those Caucasian actors. They did their public service announcement and we’re like, “You know? We want to do our little version of that, too.”
It’s been probably one of the biggest pride and joys of my life creating content with. She’s not even a best friend. She’s family. You know what I mean? We get it and it’s very odd when you can just gel with somebody and improv with them. We laugh until we’re crying often. This is my business partner. We are trademarked. We’re doing all the steps that we need to do to make this become a television series because we do feel like there is life in that. It can’t just be the ‘Broad Cities’ of the world. We need two Black women telling this story.
What is ‘Broad City’ for two girls that are auditioning for “Slave #3?” What does that role look like really? The backstories of having to pay for Sallie Mae and not having enough money and living together while being broke and still trying to pursue your dreams in a gig economy.
Those are stories that are important to me. I’ve never quite seen my story told like this before. Usually, it’s from the perspective of a man- a white man. ‘Dave’, you know what I mean? ‘Entourage 2’, you know? Shout-out to Robert Townsend with “Hollywood Shuffle” but we need the Black woman’s perspective. What’s going on there? It’s important.
TikTok is a social media platform that you have truly utilized to showcase your immensely wide range as an actress. What is your method when it comes to your content creation in that particular realm of social media?
TikTok- I downloaded it for the first time in January (2021) because I’ve been doing content with #HashtagBooked and Lanisa. I wanted to see if I could do this on my own. A part of me was very scared to do it on my own because we’d been doing it together for three years. I was like, “Oh, I don’t know who I am without my friend.”
I started off by doing these recaps of Bridgerton and a lot of them went viral. I did this whole kind of collection of Daphne’s diary in these 15 to 30 second recaps and what the episodes were about. I played all the characters from the Duke, to her, to her family, and all these things. It inspired me to keep going because I realized it was creating a lot of joy within me to make people laugh. During that time, we really needed to laugh in the pandemic.
Visibility-wise, I think a lot of people were starting to see me as the writer that I’ve always been and the creative that I’ve always wanted to be. When I first started my career, I was getting these kinds of “sassy truck driver” roles or the “disgruntled receptionist with no family” you know? It was just these very stereotypical Black roles.
Content creating has allowed me to create my own legacy outside of the white people lens. I think when I’m able to create my own things, I think then people can see and say, “Okay, wait. That’s actually the artist that she wants to be.” I don’t think if I had #HashtagBooked or my own content if I necessarily would have been cast in a really quirky, amazing comedy such as “Ghosts.”
All of the things on my reel (amazing as they are) were kind of giving that “sassy this, sassy that” but being able to do my own stuff just gives me a whole nother dimension. I think it’s absolutely helped me in my career. I’m so grateful that people are finally starting to take note because this is the kind of stupid stuff that I’ve been doing for years. I’ve been doing characters for my family.
I had a one-woman show called “Body Courage” that I was running for five years where I was interviewing people on the street and then bringing their stories to the stage. I am very much so obsessed with women like Anna Deavere Smith or Sarah Jones where they do that transformative work. Whoopi Goldberg is another one. The question of my life is, “What would Whoopi do?” I am honestly so grateful that people like the content and they’re laughing at it and that it’s led to opportunities like being on goals. I’m truly grateful.
What is your favorite way to prioritize joy in your daily life?
I’m a journaler. I take a lot of notes. My biggest way of prioritizing joy is making sure that my cup is full enough so that I can give to others. I know that my cup is full enough if everything on my task list is done. If the task list is not done, I cannot give and give. I’m such a giver. I’m a Taurus through and through. I’m loyal to a fault. I love my naps and I love a good snack. I’m stubborn. These are my traits. I am the stereotype of a Taurus.
I cannot love my community and do all the things that I want to do for my community if my glass is not full. It’s not just taking naps and bubble baths. Those things help but it’s also making sure that I’m going to therapy, you know what I mean?
It’s making sure that I see my Black lady therapist and we get stuff on track. It’s also making sure that my house is in order. It’s making sure that I’m going out for a walk and exercising and moving my body and eating well. The hours that we’re working on set? I can’t just be out here eating anything. I have to make sure that I’m nourishing my body in and out so that I can withstand this athleticism. It’s a mental, spiritual, and physical athleticism to become and be a series regular on a hit show.
Whatever I need to do to nurture myself in that way? I gotta do it. I have to put myself first sometimes before others and I think that’s how I’m able to culminate joy because if my stuff is not together, I can’t give. I think that task list is the moment for me always.