In a meaningful bid to shine the light on heartbreaking stories of injustice and social issues, four former Victorian beauty pageant queens embark on a quest that's expected to shift the culture of Australian TV for the greater good, with the captivating documentary series Behind The Sash set to premiere Saturday October 26 on Channel 10 Peach.
In its 10-part series, Behind The Sash will reveal powerful revelations on the unique locations visited, by uncovering real issues of injustice, fighting on the frontline of the social landscape, and working alongside local organisations that are directly combating them.
Each episode featured within the documentary series follows a unique journey considered equally heartwarming, as it is devastatingly eye opening. From visiting the local streets of Melbourne to explore the issue of homelessness, to witnessing a life-changing operation on a four-year-old boy in Nepal that is about to see his parents for the first time, Danielle McAlpine-Johnson believes the significance of the issues justify the ultimate purpose for the platform.
Question: Can you tell us about Behind The Sash?
Danielle McAlpine Johnson: Behind The Sash is a 10-part Humanitarian Documentary series developed to shine a light on issues of injustice impacting women and children in Australia and abroad. We follow four extraordinary women as they search for Australia's most influential and up and coming humanitarians on the rise, in search for the next Mrs Australia. But this platform is not what you think! It's a platform to give women a voice, removing all competition and comparison between women and allowing true sisterhood to flourish!
Question: When and how did you come up with the idea to create Behind The Sash?
Danielle McAlpine Johnson: Behind The Sash has been brewing in me for about four years now. Originally the concept birthed out of my experience within the pageant industry and over the journey of development I married this with my passion to use the entertainment industry as a platform to highlight injustice. After putting it on the self for three years, I was prompted to redevelop it. When Channel 10 picked up the new concept we proposed based around searching for humanitarian hearted women and shining a light on issues of injustice my heart exploded. My husband Chico Johnson is a singer song writer and we are deeply passionate about using the arts and entertainment industry as a means to reach the next generation and see a significant shift across humanity. We believe every human being has a divine purpose for their life and want them to know that! This platform allows us to not only shine a light on these issues but also highlight to many that no matter the struggle or trepidation we go through, we can rise up and make a difference!
Question: Can you talk us through the process of bringing Behind The Sash to life?
Danielle McAlpine Johnson: It hasn't been an easy ride! Usually in production in an ideal world you would break it down into three stages… pre-production, production and post-production. But when I received the phone call that it was go time and our deadline was only six months later we had the choice to either proceed and fight for those without a voice or lay it down. We said yes and here we are five and a half months later still grinding to get Behind The Sash across the line. There has been many 2am bed times for a few of us and much blood, sweat and tears. But when you understand that the purpose behind what you are doing far outweighs your own selfish desires, then it gives you the supernatural ability to push through the gate and get the job done. I only have to think about the youth suicide rate of the Aboriginal community or restoring the sight of a child in Nepal to find the strength it takes to keep waking up each day. At times I've wanted to crawl into a cave and hide, but my kids, husband and mentors are such a great support! It's not an easy gig, but we're praying that it has a deep rooted impact.
Question: How does it feel to now see the show screening on Channel 10 Peach?
Danielle McAlpine Johnson: To see the show come to light and premier on Channel 10 Peach last Saturday was an experience I will never forget. I was anxious, yet excited and deeply moved with the response. To have so many people say thank you for shining the light in the darkness means so much more than any accolade. To know that the show was well received, that people laughed, cried and were deeply impacted was truly a dream come true.
All we want is for Australia's and hopefully the world to recognise that we can all do something to help. Even if it's simply asking your neighbour "are you ok?"
Question: What did you learn about yourself when producing Behind The Sash?
Danielle McAlpine Johnson: I learnt that you can't do anything without an awesome and supportive team. When you are on the front line fighting on the social justice landscape it can be tough. The warfare is real, and it's important to surround yourself with likeminded people who see your vision and are equally passionate about bringing it to life. Not everyone will be for you. Not everyone will believe in you and you have to manage your own expectations. You can't expect everyone to see your vision or believe in your dream because not everyone is called to. It's unfair to put that expectation on others. But no matter the cost you cannot stop believing in what you know you were put on this planet to do. I believe that a destiny unfulfilled is a wasted life. I want to get to the end of my time and have poured everything I have out and to know that I gave it my all. To do that you have to have the right support around you and I am very blessed to have had a sensational team backing me.
Question: What was a typical day like on set for Behind The Sash?
Danielle McAlpine Johnson: First up I get my hair done by the incredible Creative Directors of Rokk Ebony, Pina Mercuri and Daniella Barca who are our offical sponsors of the show. They are pioneers in the beauty industry and they always make sure the ladies look outstanding. I then huddle with my Co-Prodcuer Bessie Kay and the rest of our awesome team for a quick pow wow about what the day entails and then it's go time. Although I'm cast in this particular production, I'm still constantly keeping an eye on storyline and direction of the show. I have to it's my baby! I often jump behind the camera to put in my two bob, but I have a really supportive crew who allow me to be myself and always respect my unusual role of many hats. I'm sure at times I drive them nuts, but they never show it and am always so honourable. I'm seriously so blessed.
Question: What message do you hope Behind The Sash spreads to audiences?
Danielle McAlpine Johnson: My hope for the show is that it cuts through to the heart of audience and they jump on the journey to making goodness fashionable. I look at the way many women are being depicted in the world and particularly in media and sometimes it's not healthy for our next generation. I hope that this show provides an opportunity for our young ones and even other grown women to see that you can be fashionable, authentic, real, raw and honourable all at once. I hope it sets a new standard for true role models and redefines the word 'influencer'. That we all have great purpose on this beautiful planet and that if we were all to step up in our own individual lives just a little bit more, all together at one time, this world would be a better place.
Question: What's next for you?
Danielle McAlpine Johnson: I would love a good month off once we wrap, to lie on a beach and read a book, play with my kids and soak in the sun and ocean! Then Season 2!
Interview by Brooke Hunter