Juxtaposition much? Melbourne mum Danielle can’t help but laugh.“There is a running joke within my cast and crew about the amount of times I have used the word juxtaposition in the last six months, but that is pretty much the word that sums up my life right now!”
During April this year, two of the most significant events of Danielle McAlpine Johnson’s life collided. Standing in the Gippsland Base Hospital she received a phone call and found out Channel 10 had picked up her Humanitarian Documentary series Behind The Sash, a project she had spent 3.5 years developing. Hours later, her mother passed away from transitional cell carcinoma. The reality of these two events is something she is still wrapping her heart and head around.
“The whole thing surpasses my human understanding, but we just have to trust. So I said yes. It meant making tough decisions in the most heart wrenching season of my life, but knowing this project’s purpose far outweighs me alone, continues to drive me forward.”
Danielle, alongside her husband, motivational artist Chico Johnson, had a week to grieve her mother, whilst nurturing her three beautiful children (Jason 18, River 7 and Nevaeh 6) through the loss of their grandmother, before starting a gruelling six months production schedule.
Behind The Sash is a 10-part documentary series that follows four powerful women as they travel the nation and abroad to shine a light on issues of injustice impacting women and children in Australia, all whilst searching for the next Mrs Australia. No more “plastic fantastic”… these are women of substance.
“The whole production has been rather surreal. One minute we are doing a glamorous fashion shoot, the next minute we are witnessing the miracle of sight being restored right before our eyes. Other times, I am sitting in the edit suite watching discussions on suicide, or women stuck in impoverished living, twenty times over to ensure we are telling the right story, the right way, to hopefully influence change. It’s very intense and often overwhelming, but iron sharpens iron and I have an awesome team around me helping pull this off.”
No more “plastic fantastic”… these are women of substance.
Driven by an innate passion for the next generation, Danielle is a visionary devoted to shifting the culture of Australian TV for the greater good, in particular for the female audience.
“Sometimes when I look at the way women are depicted in the media, and how that impacts our next generation, my blood boils. I have two sons and a daughter. I want my daughter to understand how a woman should carry herself and I want my sons to know how to treat and respect a women. Visa versa is of equal importance. That’s why we have created this show, in the hopes to draw attention to women of substance taking a stand within our nation. I am blessed to have an incredible Co-Producer Bessie Kay who is also a mother of two gorgeous daughters and carries this same vision. I couldn’t have pulled this off without her. Talk about women on the rise, she is one to watch!”
Danielle is joined by three other powerhouse mothers within the cast of Behind The Sash including Jyselle Des-Forges, Becky Branca and Sofia Gilinas.
“My beautiful cast members and I are very close. We all come from a pageant background and have been through a lot together, but in fact this show isn’t about a pageant. Mrs Australia is a platform created to showcase some of Australia’s most influential and humanitarian hearted women.”
The cast have travelled to unique locations including Beagle Bay in the Kimberly to shine a light on the youth suicide rate – one of the highest in the world, to Nepal highlighting CBM restoring sight, to the Phillipines working with Gawad Kalinga removing families from living in poverty into safe communities. Each episode is dedicated to one issue of injustice and showcases one powerful woman taking a stand. By the end of the series they will have found 10 incredible women who will all be showcased at the Mrs Australia eEvent.
“We are removing the competition element and heavily focusing on ‘celebrating’ women. Yes, there will be only one Mrs Australia chosen but we really are celebrating these phenomenal ladies. It’s a true sisterhood, all about encouraging the revolutionary women of Australia who are making hands on effort of foreign and local aid to create a better future. We celebrate their strength and courage. We are making goodness fashionable.”
Take the raw doco style of Ross Kemp, the charitable heart of Undercover Boss, the glamour of Australia’s Next Top Model – throw it in a pot and you have BEHIND THE SASH!
Rokk Ebony is the major sponsor for Behind The Sash and have partnered with the ladies to see this messaging infiltrate the beauty industry.
“We’re incredibly blessed to have Rokk Ebony partner with us. They really are pioneers within the beauty industry on so many levels and to have them stand strong alongside us makes us forever grateful.”
“Every woman within the cast has a powerful story to share. They are all are an inspiration to me in one way or another, so to share their stories is pretty cool. I get to wake up everyday, make TV, write stories, play dress up and do it all with some of the coolest mamas on the planet. Most importantly, it’s a purpose driven life. Kind of a dream come true. I miss my own mother dearly but she deserves a legacy that lasts. I’ve got a fire in my belly to see a shift within this industry and I believe it’s coming soon”.
Behind The Sash airs on Channel 10 Peach on Saturday 26th October at 1:30pm with an encore at 8am Sunday on Channel 10.