When Danielle Pinnock took her first steps into the entertainment industry almost 20 years ago, the space wasn't exactly welcoming. Even in the early 2000s, roles for women who weren't white or a size two and smaller were limited — talk less for women who happened to identify as both full-figured and Black. Years later, however, the actress is finally seeing the hard work she's put in pay off in a major way. And this is only the beginning.
To say that Pinnock is booked and busy would be an understatement; right now, the Jamaican-American actress is racking up some of the biggest wins of her 17-year career, a dream-turned-reality that she has always imagined for herself even before landing credited roles that could be found on iMDB. Though her credits include appearances in productions like Scandal, This Is Us, and Young Sheldon, Pinnock is stepping into the spotlight as the one thing that would make her grandmother clutch her pearls: a duppy.
Pinnock is one of the bold personalities making up the ensemble cast of new CBS original series GHOSTS. A remake of the popular BBC show of the same name, GHOSTS follows the misadventures of a young couple who inherit the historic Woodstone country estate only to discover that it is also inhabited by ghosts. Cursed to remain on earth instead of moving on to the afterlife, the spirits have been spending centuries haunting the mansion, eagerly awaiting the newest arrival to their eclectic group. Pinnock plays Alberta, the rowdiest member of the ghost family. Decked head to toe in the glitzy fashions of the 1920s with an equally over-the-top personality to match, Alberta is ever the show-woman — even in death. She
annoys amuses her fellow ghosts to no end with songs from her hey-days, always ready to put on a show at a moment's notice.
"I've been acting for more than 17 years, and I've never had an opportunity this large in my life," says Pinnock of the role. "I loved the UK version of this show, and I tend to lean towards quirky dark comedies. The GHOSTS script reminded me of a perfect mix of Ted Lasso and What We Do in the Shadows, so I was like, Sign me up!"
Because GHOSTS already has a strong fanbase in the UK, the stakes were high for the cast of the American adaptation. However, the show's first few episodes have been well-received by old and new fans alike, something that Pinnock is particularly pleased with especially since her character is an original addition to the storyline.
"Alberta is a brand new ghost that wasn't in the British original, and she is utterly fabulous," she says proudly. "I've never gotten a chance to play a role like this in my TV career; this woman is brash, sexy, super confident in herself...even a little bit annoying. As the only Black cast member in the ensemble cast, I just knew that I had to represent for the Black community, for the plus size community. "
The GHOSTS gig fell into Pinnock's lap at precisely the right moment. Just months before she landed a role on the CBS series and jetted off to Quebec to shoot the first season, the New Jersey-born actress was doing everything in her power to stay busy and positive, including putting her talent as a creative and a comedian to use online at the height of the pandemic in 2020. In collaboration with her friend and fellow actress LaNisa Frederick, Pinnock created the Instagram account @HashtagBooked, a space highlighting the ups and downs that Black actors in Hollywood experience on a daily basis. The account quickly grew in following, amassing over 40,000 followers within months.
At the same time, Pinnock was steadily growing her own fanbase on her social media; her funny Instagram reels and TikToks — have you seen her hilariously irreverent take on #Megxit or her viral spin on Bridgerton? — felt like a soothing balm in the midst of a season of perpetual chaos and loss. Bringing happiness to others during the pandemic was just as healing for Pinnock, who also suffered a number of very personal and professional losses as a result of the ongoing public health crisis. Though she was dealing with her own issues, Pinnock tapped into her innate ability to make people laugh in hopes that it would hone her craft while also lifting some of the heaviness of the times.
"I typically never put myself out on the internet like that, but I had to take the time to do something new and step outside of the box to explore what else I had to offer creatively," she explains. "As creators, we weren't on set anymore, and there were no opportunities to actually exercise what we do for a living. That need was where so much of the content came from."
"I'm really just in the business of happiness," Pinnock continues. "When LaNisa and I created @HashtagBooked, we knew that people needed a place of solace. Unadulterated joy is my moment, so if I can bring a piece of that to the internet to help people feel even a little bit better, I've done my job as a human being. I just feel so lucky that people like my work and are finding joy in it — that means the world to me."
With joy fueling everything that she does, we can expect all of Pinnock's future projects to follow a similar thread. Even as she continues her work on GHOSTS (which has recently been given a full season order), the actress has already closed up another big deal; her animated series Unmentionables, co-created with close friend Punam Patel (Netflix's Special), has been green-lit, with Taraji P. Henson and Anthony Hemingway on board to executive produce. Pinnock has several more top secret projects in development — she's #booked, remember? — including a scripted series inspired by her own childhood as a first generation Caribbean-American growing up in a lily white New Jersey neighborhood.
In every step she takes in her career, Pinnock says that her ultimate goal is to continue kicking down doors in Hollywood in order to tell the kinds of stories that she's most passionate about. She planted the seeds of her success years ago, and over time, the fruit of her labor is finally ripe for the picking. None of this is by luck or good fortune — it's simply a testament to Pinnock's continued diligence and unwavering belief in herself.
"I used to pray for days like this," she recalls. "I remember every ‘no’ that I got in auditions, every 'She's great but not what we're looking for.' Being so broke that I had to sleep on an air mattress with no other furniture in my L.A. apartment. There were times where I literally couldn't pay the bills but was still pursuing my craft and trying to fine tune my instrument as an artist."
"I'm excited to be in this space of overflow, to be receiving yeses across the board," concludes Pinnock happily. "It's a beautiful time, and — I don't say this with any ego — it's a well-deserved time."
Catch Pinnock as Alberta in GHOSTS, currently airing every Thursday night on CBS.