Actress, author, TV personality and Love Island winner 23-year-old Dani Dyer will be back on stage this Christmas season.
She is returning to the show in which made her stage debut last year alongside her dad and namesake EastEnders actor Danny.
Nativity! The Musical will be at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from December 3-7.
“It was my first time on stage last year,” Dani recalls, “and I found out about it not long before. I came off Love Island and it was all a bit crazy, and my dad was doing Nativity! and I was asked if I would be interested in doing it as well. I did a lot of things like that when I was younger, stage stuff. I did a lot of training with the National Youth Theatre, but I had never been on a stage. But oh my God, I just loved it so much! It was really, really good to have my dad there to give me confidence. It gave me that boost. Dad just said ‘Just enjoy it and be yourself and you will smash it!’”
Dani did two weeks on the show last year; this year she is coming back for nine weeks… and speaking mid-October, she was already pretty much into the swing of Christmas: “I just feel incredibly Christmassy already. I want to get my tree up!
“The show was so amazing last year. I was so nervous, but you have just got to channel the nerves and just think that if you are not nervous, it is just that you don’t care. But once you start, it is such a good feeling on stage. They had been touring before, and I was just thinking that I don’t want to mess it up.”
Clearly she didn’t. They asked her back.
“They got in contact a few months ago and it was easy to say yes.”
Dani will be playing the Hollywood producer in the show, though not with an American accent: “She is from London. She moved out there. She is quite feisty. She knows what she wants. And it is all about female empowerment. But it is such a feel-good show. The lovely thing is that anyone can come along to it, children and adults alike.”
Having previously worked as an actor, it was when Dani joined ITV2’s Love Island in 2018 that she shot into the public consciousness. After winning over the public, Dani and her then partner Jack Fincham went on to win the series with more than 80 per cent of the vote.
“It hasn’t even been two years, but they have been the best two years ever. I never thought anything would happen. You just don’t think like that. You don’t think ‘I am going to win Love Island,’ but I did and it has just been amazing.
“I just went out there and I was myself. I wanted to meet friends and it was great. But I was so in the bubble. You escape from the outside world. I just thought ‘Enjoy this! It’s the summer of your life!’ You get away, and it is good to get away from reality.”
Since then, the fun has kept on coming.
In February 2019, Dani climbed Kilimanjaro with a team of celebrities including presenters Dan Walker and Anita Rani, former MP Ed Balls, and Strictly judge Shirley Ballas, raising £2m for Comic Relief. Dani also visited the charity’s projects in Sierra Leone, learning about educational and empowering courses for women and girls to stand up against FGM.
April 2019 saw the release of her debut book What Would Dani Do?, a guide for young women including many autobiographical anecdotes. The book was an instant success and spent three weeks in the Sunday Times Bestsellers list, reaching number four.
“It wasn’t so much an autobiography. I was just wanting to give back to girls, how to handle certain things and memories from when I was younger.”