Cape Town-born dancer Danielle-Marie Jones stars alongside Miley Cyrus in 'Black Mirror'
Danny Jones (Photo: Supplied)
Cape Town - Channel24 spoke to Cape Town-born performer Danielle-Marie Jones, about appearing in Black Mirror alongside Miley Cyrus and making on-screen movie magic as a stuntwoman on The Scorpion King and Bulletproof 2.
I first met 24-year-old Danielle-Marie, who goes by Danny on the set of The Scorpion King: Book of Souls, where she was cast as Pearl Thusi's stunt-double. Surrounded by archaeological artefacts, and ancient Egyptian costumes, Danny and I struck up a conversation about what it takes to be a sword-wielding stunt performer, and I instantly knew to keep an eye out for the up-and-coming performer.
Scrolling through my Instagram feed a week ago, I saw a photo of Danny dressed in a go-go dancer costume, with her signature big curly hair, stepping out of a movie trailer with the caption: "#blackmirrorseason5 is finally out plz stay tuned fam."
And one year later, since our chance-meeting, Danny and I picked up our conversation about the stunt world and her Netflix debut.
Danny, who stars in episode three, of the brand-new season of Black Mirror on Netflix, as one of Ashley O's (Miley Cyrus) backup dancers, says she has always been a fan of the show, and when she scored that all-important call-back she knew to "leave it all on the dancefloor."
About the audition phase, she says: "We were told that it was for Black Mirror, but we didn't know which celebrity we would be dancing with. I just heard Black Mirror and thought: 'Then I'm going'!"
"In the last round of auditions, we were only a few girls, and we had to learn a pop routine to one of Ariana Grande's songs, and I went to stand right in front. I thought to myself: 'I have to be seen; this is my chance.' And my hair is so big; they had to have noticed me!"
"I gave it my all. I was nervous, but I knew that I had to go all out. I left everything on the dance floor, flicking my hair and giving face to the camera."
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When Danny, who is a professional dancer, received the news that she was cast, she says she was "completely overwhelmed and excited."
"I've mainly been doing stunt work and commercials. I've never been cast in a role on a series, let alone Netflix. When I got home, I was telling every family member. It was one of the most exciting things that I've ever done."
About meeting the Hannah Montana actress, Danny says: "The day we met her was when we filmed the dance-video shoot with her. It was a full day shoot, and we were on set for about 10 hours."
"Miley is very cool and awesome. She is very natural, and just herself and it was amazing to meet her. She is funny and an all-around rock-star. She was great to work with," Danny says about the pop star's character on set.
As a trained ballerina, Danny was very comfortable with the dance routine, but, the hair extensions was something she wasn't familiar with.
She holds back her laugh when she says: "For the first time in my life, I was on set with straight hair. I had this long ponytail, which was very different for me. I've never had hairpiece to work with. I'm so glad that it didn't fly off during the routine."
Danny says that her family and friends have been supportive, even if they haven't watched the episode yet, she confesses.
"My brother hasn't even seen it yet, but he shared all the photos on social media," she laughs.
Danny, who has also been a stunt double on the movie Bulletproof 2, says that she didn't have any formal stunt training but was encouraged by stunt performers, because of her dance background.
"They felt like I would be able to pick up fight choreography and sequences quickly. And they were right, I have flexibility and range of motion, and I can do kicks and turns when it comes to intense coordination."
Danny, whose mother is a choreographer, producer and scriptwriter, says she had a theatrical upbringing and has always been influenced by theatre and performance.
Danny is currently completing her Masters in Theatre and Performance and is in her 7th year at the University of Cape Town, and when papers are due, she puts her acting career on hold to take time out and focus on her studies.
When asked what she would be doing, if it wasn't dancing, Danny is genuinely stunned. "It's an impossible thought for me," she says completely gobsmacked.
"My father wanted me to be a lawyer? Maybe law? I can't image what I would be doing," she giggles.
When she has a moment to herself, which is rare as she is often at the dance studio from 08:00 to 18:00, she enjoys going to the cinema.
"I love going to the Labia or any movie theatre, where I can buy popcorn and sit down for two hours, and enjoy a film," she says.
I'm confident we'll be seeing much more of Danielle-Marie Jones on our TV (and the big) screen in the future!