We talk to Disney Channel’s newest star about her acting journey, activism, and career goals.

Photography by Justine Photography.

Photography by Justine Photography.

Actress, singer, and activist Danielle Jalade is the star of Disney Channel’s newest series Saturdays, a coming-of-age comedy about three friends who form a skate crew in Chicago.

After beginning her career in theatre, performing in productions such as The Lion King, Danielle moved to the screen to play a Young Widow in Marvel’s Black Widow. Now, when she’s not starring in Saturdays as the character of Paris Johnson, the actress advocates for diversity in Hollywood. Particularly focused on the need for inclusivity on-set and behind-the-scenes, she speaks on her frustration of the lack of hair stylists able to work with black hair and makeup artists equipped to work with various black skin tones. While acting is her primary job, Danielle has entrepreneurial aspirations and plans to change Hollywood for the better: “My biggest goal is to start my own production company, so I can give people of colour more opportunities in front of and behind the camera.”

We speak to Danielle Jalade about her career trajectory, journey of self-love, and goals for the future.

Read the interview below…

Hey Danielle! For our readers who may not know who you are, can you tell us a bit about who you are?
Hello I am Danielle Jalade and I am an actress. I am currently the lead in the new Disney Channel show Saturdays playing “Paris Johnson.” I have an obsession with TikTok! I have the cutest dog named Biscuit. When I am not acting, I love painting and baking in my free time.

Could you talk us through the journey of your acting career? How did you get started in the industry?
At the age of five, my mom realised I have a love for acting. She enrolled me in the Amazing Grace Conservatory Program, where I learned the fundamentals of theatre and acting. From there, I booked my first role in the Disney musical, The Lion King as Young Nala at the Seattle Theater Group.

How did you find the transition from the stage (acting productions like Lion King) to major on-screen roles?
Transitioning from the stage to on-screen was a bit different. I had to learn a different acting style than what I was used to. Theatre acting has very different rules than on-screen acting, and I had to get accustomed to that. Over time I realised that I prefer doing on-screen more than on-stage. Even so, stage acting will always have a place in my heart.

One of your most notable roles is portraying “Young Widow” in Marvel’s Black Widow. What was it like to be part of such a huge film franchise?
Being part of Black Widow was an amazing experience! I made so many new friends and learned so many new things. Playing a role that was so dramatic/intense was different, but I enjoyed trying out that type of acting style. I would love to work with Marvel studios again in the future!

Would you like to act in more superhero action films in the future, or are there other genres that you’d like to segue into?
Yes! I would love to act in another superhero film after having such a positive experience being in Black Widow. However, I don’t want to stop at just superhero action films. I also want to act in every genre possible. I want to try out different characters, be in different projects, and dabble in a bit of everything throughout my acting career. Personally, that would be so much fun!

What can you tell us about your upcoming TV show, Saturdays and your role in this Disney Channel series?
Saturdays follows a young girl named “Paris Johnson” (me) and her two best friends, “Ari” and “Simone.” Together, we form the We-B-Girlz skating crew. “Paris” eats, breathes, and lives for skating at her town’s local skating rink, called Saturdays on Saturday nights. She is always ready to show off her and her crew’s latest skating routine. More than that, it’s a show that little girls who look like me can watch and see themselves in.

How do you plan on using your platform to raise awareness and fight for more diversity and inclusivity in the industry?
I plan to use my platform to bring awareness to the lack of inclusivity behind the scenes in Hollywood and how that can affect BIPOC actors in ways most people might not realise. It can be frustrating to work with hair stylists and makeup artists who aren’t adept at working with black hair or various black skin tones, and it’s easy to feel like you are the problem. In the future, I want to create and be in control of my own projects, so I can continue to promote diversity and inclusivity for others.

What do you think are some tough conversations that we need to move our society, and why?
As a society, we need to move past conventional beauty standards. Not only are these standards always changing at an alarming rate that most can’t keep up with, but also the amount of insecurity it brings upon those who don’t fit the criteria. And I say this from personal experience. Growing up, I always thought I had to look a certain way to be deemed beautiful, now I know that’s not true. It took a while for me to be comfortable in my own skin. Everyone is beautiful, and you are too!

You stand firmly on the importance of self-love. What advice would you give other young girls struggling with loving who they are?
Self-love is the most important thing, especially for young girls! People will always judge us and feel the need to comment on our appearances before anything else. It’s vital to drown out that negativity and learn that no one else’s opinion matters. Beauty is within, and in reality, everyone is beautiful in their own way. From the moment where I choose to embrace myself just as I am, I have never been happier.

We’ve heard that your goal is to start your own production company. Could you talk a bit more about that? And why are you deciding to do so?
I’m interested in starting my own company and making an impact on the industry off-camera as much as on-camera. I want to build a company whose inclusive and diverse culture creates a special space for creators of all sorts. I want to inspire others regardless of appearance, age, gender, or race, to feel comfortable and follow their acting dreams. I’m hoping that by doing this, I can help shift the culture in this industry.

Lastly, you’ve achieved so much already at such a young age. Are there any other accomplishments you’d like to reach in the near future?
I just really strive to inspire others and make a change. I want other people to love themselves while doing what they love. I hope I can be that role model for many people. I’m here to inspire above anything else. Thank you for having me, Wonderland!