Ascot local Danielle Mason tells Ellie-Mae Hammond how she has embraced everything that has come her way, from modelling contracts to fronting well-known charities
Glamour model Danielle Mason found widespread fame on TV show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and has ridden the wave of British television ever since. Today, she continues to focus on her television work, but spends a great deal of her time supporting some incredible charities that are close to her heart – and yet her career took off via one of the nation’s most discussed newspaper sections.
“I started off doing page 3 when I was 21 and then I went on to do reality TV shows followed by some British films and some presenting work. My glamour modelling days were fantastic,” she smiles. “There’s so much stigma around the topic, however those within the industry itself just get it. The misconceptions surrounding would come from outside the industry.
“Back in the day, page 3 was iconic. Nowadays, not so much, but back then it was a huge industry, and there was so much buzz around being a glamour model. You got to fly out all over the world. I went to Barbados and shot a calendar out there. It was a cool lifestyle. I understand why some people don’t want to see it in the paper, but back then, it was rather iconic to be a page 3 girl. What a lot of people don’t know is a lot of really good business women have come from page 3. And the best thing that I found with page 3 is that it was all so natural. It wasn’t airbrushed or anything – it was just a real girl, embracing their feminine side. I went to a convent in Berkshire, so me doing page 3 was quite a shock to my family’s system.”
While Mason’s glamour modelling career continued to flourish, she met cage fighter Tony Giles, which opened up a whole new career path. “I’ve done quite a few TV shows in my time, but the one I ended up getting most known for was Gypsy Weddings,” she says. “My partner [Giles] was a traveller, and quite well-known in the community as a cage fighter. We got together and the programme makers at Gypsy Wedding approached us and asked us to do the show. It ended up getting 15 million viewers, much to my surprise.
“I often get asked how I adapted to the traveller community, coming from a non-traveller background,” she continues. “The truth is, I didn’t, I changed nothing. I brought all my morals and culture into the community when I entered it. My partner ended up moving in with me in a house, as opposed to a chalet, however he didn’t really cope well with that. Me coming from a glamour modelling background, I often felt the odd one out amongst the women in the community.”
After this TV breakthrough, Mason then went on to do a long line of similar shows within the traveller community. “Another show I did was ‘Gypsies Next Door’, on Channel 5, which was about me taking a traveller girl and getting her into glamour modelling and seeing if she liked it. Understandably, her family was completely against it. I personally find the traveller community very interesting, so I always jump to do these shows. It’s gaining a totally new insight into a community where my kids are a part of it. Their morals are very different, so I am always wanting to learn more about their culture, more for my kids’ sake.”
Aside from doing TV shows surrounding the traveller community, Mason has also dipped her toe in a few other genres. “My career began on page 3 of The Sun, however I then went on to do other women’s magazines and other reality TV shows. I went on to do cooking on a host of morning TV shows. I also did a show called Filthy Rich and Famous, which was basically to see how different their lives were compared to famous siblings. It was a controversial show, but interesting to do. You had the likes of Elton John’s brother, Simon Cowell’s sibling and then me, Jessie Wallace’s half-sister.”
Moving on to what life is like for Mason today, a mother of two, and a local Ascot resident, it’s clear times have changed. “I’ve been supporting the events for Pink Ribbon, the breast cancer charity. Christine McGuiness is one of the ambassadors, and there’s also quite a few big faces that support this charity. It’s a brilliant cause so I want to continue to support them in any way possible. One thing I love about this organisation is that it’s a beautiful little community – the charity is like a family.
“BulliesOut is another charity I support,” she adds, “and I continue to donate money to them and their cause. The charity supports children who have been bullied and trolled online. That’s something I have personally, along with many people in this industry, experienced myself.”
On her local area, she has plenty of places she loves visiting. “There are probably a couple of places. Piccolino Virginia Water is the best place to go for cocktails. Amaiya Ascot is probably the best all round venue, the best girls’ night out place, but they also do amazing roast dinners and top quality sheesh kebabs.
“The Look Out Discovery Centre, which is in Bracknell,” she continues about family attractions. “It’s similar to Go Ape, so the kids love it and there are some amazing walks there. All around where I live are amazing forests too.”
Having had a colourful career so far, Mason is far from finished with the industry. With hopes of another TV show on the horizon, and we may see her branch out into presenting very soon. The sun is certainly shining in this part of the county.