Every noteworthy reality show has a driving force behind it. On American Pickers, the force is vintage clothing picker Danielle Colby. However, even with her indispensable talent, her time on the show may soon end. She had no other choice but to make a decision that affects not just her life, but also the lives of everybody around her.
A Fan Favorite
When American Pickers first aired in 2010, it delighted audiences to discover how seemingly mundane objects could hold a secret and be surprisingly valuable. While stars Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe are on the road, Danielle Colby, the direct and no-nonsense manager runs, their store Antique Archaeology. A fan favorite, Danielle finds leads and determines which ones need an in-person inspection, aside from carrying out her responsibilities managing the shop. In spite of not being the show’s main focus, Danielle has a story that is arguably among the most stand-out, and her hard work, together with off-screen events, may be the reason for her splitting from the show.
Danielle has the special ability of talking to people and locating unique valuables and in fact, she is one of the primary forces in the show when it comes to locating places for Frank and Mike to explore. Because she is able to find antique treasure in piles of rust, Mike gave her the title “Queen of Rust,” a nickname which stuck fast. Fans have commented on how Danielle is able to strike a good professional and personal relationship with Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe. The three may have experienced some rough patches between them, but they have been resolved. However, can this peace be expected to last forever?
Go Way Back
Luckily for viewers, this bond will not easily rust over as Danielle and Mike go way back. They met in 2000 when they both visited a garage sale and showed interest in the same item. They realized they shared the same hobby and passion, and their friendship flourished. Before American Pickers was even conceptualized, Mike would already bring Danielle items he had found which needed repair, and Danielle, who was working at a small pickers shop during that time, was happy to help her new friend out. When Mike thought of a concept for a show, he knew who to ask, but from the start, the pair were plagued with problems.
A Rough Start
Even on the first day on set, the show was already faced with problems. Even though Danielle had been helping Mike at his shop, the show’s production crew was not really sure she was right for the show, and on her first day on set, they actually refused to film her! Mike knew that he needed to step in and solve the problem before it got out of control. He spoke to the producers of the show at the History Channel and they agreed to include Danielle in the show. While Frank and Mike were thinking about what items to bring on the show, Danielle was beginning to have second thoughts.
Affinity For Vintage Things
In general, American Pickers, just features the male hosts, Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe, finding treasures in trash heaps of other people, but Danielle is actually a picker herself. However, unlike the men, who are keener on cars, motorcycles, and bikes, Danielle has said that she prefers vintage dresses, cowboy boots, and retro clothing. Danielle thinks of Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as the “ultimate professional pickers,” but she was already passionate about picking even before her time on the show. However, there was a bigger problem brewing outside of the show, and it would force Danielle to shift her focus elsewhere.
The Dark Side Of Fame
Fame and notoriety can sometimes have a dark side, and fortune can bring joy but have adverse effects on a relationship. Unfortunately for Danielle and Kevin, her first husband, that seems to be the case and their marriage ended in divorce only two years after the show debuted. Her marriage may not have worked out, but it did bring into Danielle’s life her two children, a girl and a boy, whom she constantly dotes over. Her children can frequently be seen on her social media accounts, and they are, without a doubt, a major factor she considers when she makes big career decisions. Hopefully, the path she chose would enable her to grant her kids an upbringing that is better than what she had.
Danielle was born and raised in Davenport, a Midwestern town in Iowa which is a short drive from Chicago. She may have grown up with parents who were devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, but because of the proximity of the Chicago metropolis, she was able to experience the alternative and artistic vibe of the city every once in a while. Danielle doesn’t really talk about her family, but her social media posts show that she really cares about them. It appears as if she isn’t the type to allow others to stand in her way when it comes to doing what she wants, and that attitude, in addition to her newfound singleness, was causing problems. Rumors about her and Mike started to circulate.
When Yuppie Punk magazine asked Danielle about her relationship with Mike, she simply said he had been “a really dear friend of mine for almost ten years [since 2000] — and he has helped me on all of my projects for about ten years — so I knew without a doubt, if he was a part of [American Pickers], not only would it be successful, but it would be kick**s too.” When Mike asked Danielle to be part of the show, she knew she couldn’t resist joining his project and jumped at the opportunity right away. There is no doubt that working together with a close friend can be a lot of fun, but Danielle is not one to just sit silently and she had her opinions of the look of the show.
Ideas For Improvement
Danielle was quick to answer when asked how she would improve the show if she was given the opportunity. Part of her answer was about how her longtime friend Mike tries his best to know the people he is picking from and how the show doesn’t really show enough of this process. As mentioned, things between the showrunners and Danielle didn’t start off great, and her saying the show didn’t really portray her long-time friend in the best possible light, is pretty indicative of some problems arising with the production team. However, when Mike and Frank ignored an idea from her, it might have become the final straw.
Desire To Be On The Road
In the past, Danielle had hinted that she wanted to be on the road to do some picking with the guys. After all, she had garnered a lot of experience as a picker before she even starred on the show. In episode 6 of season 12, the most obvious case for this was made as Danielle sat both Frank and Mike down and started explaining to them about the problems that they were having. There were too many good leads being thrown away because only the two of them were doing live follow-ups. Instead of taking her seriously, the guys actually made jokes and complained about Danielle’s graphs being too confusing. Could Danielle handle getting overlooked for longer?
The Coolest Person
If Danielle can only be described using one word, then the word would have to be confident. She displays her self-assured attitude on American Pickers and likely wasn’t thrilled with how the guys reacted to her suggestion of switching roles and letting her become a picker. When she was interviewed by the Miami New Times, she expressed what she thinks of herself. She was asked who she thought the coolest person on American Pickers was, she started by comparing the two main guys, then after a moment, she said this: “Screw it — I’m the coolest one. But I love them both.” She may have said that just for the cameras, but she was starting to have thoughts about what her future would be on the show.
Other Projects Going On
It doesn’t seem like Danielle is the type of person who likes sitting back and allowing things to simply happen around her without giving her opinion. As a matter of fact, the reality show star constantly tries to look for ways to do things better, regularly giving ideas to Frank and Mike and often expressing the frustrations she has when change doesn’t come. Aside from being an American Pickers star, Danielle is working on her own personal projects and isn’t afraid to do it alone. So when talk of her leaving the show for her own series, Danielle wasn’t really resistant to the idea.
Talk Of A Spin-Off
When the Miami New Times interviewed her, a key question came up: talk of a spin-off starring Danielle Colby. To everybody’s surprise, she didn’t totally rule out the chance of it happening and she remarked in the interview, “I have a contract, and I’ll of course honor that contract. I guess that’s a sugar-coated way of saying I’d love a spin-off.” It appears that in spite of Danielle being smart and motivated, she is loyal to her friends as well, specifically to Mike. It doesn’t seem like Danielle will be starring on her own spin-off anytime soon, but she does have several passions which definitely pull her attention away from the show.
Passion For Burlesque
As a young woman who lived with her family, Danielle became a big fan of the comedian Margaret Cho. In one of Cho’s shows, she invited a burlesque dancer by the name “Satan’s Angel” to perform and Danielle claims the performance was among the most inspiring things that she had ever seen. It was only years later when burlesque appeared to be a potential career option for Danielle, but it inspired her to perform on stage and became a lifelong passion. As a matter of fact, burlesque is really important to her and a lot of her interviews feature Danielle just talking about that. However, burlesque is not the only thing that is pulling her out of American Pickers’ orbit.
A More Intense Passion
Before Danielle became a professional picker, she chose to pursue a more intense passion – the aggressive sport of roller derby, where two teams play against each other and each have one designated “jammer.” To score points for their own team, this player tries to lap members of the other team while the opposite team tries to stop the jammer, often quite aggressively. Danielle fell in love with the idea of a team of strong women in a sport for women only and she herself gathered a group of her friends together to play the sport. They went by the team name the Big Mouth Mickies, but sadly, a shoulder injury took Danielle off the rink three years in. However, even if roller derby wasn’t an option anymore, she spied another opportunity.
Taking Her Passion To The Next Level
Danielle decided to take things to the next level and used the experience she earned working on American Pickers and her own picking passions to open up her own shop called 4 Miles 2 Memphis in 2013. There she sold retro clothing and the business gained popularity soon after opening. Even her co-star and friend Mike Wolfe would stop by the shop on a regular basis and had this to say when he was interviewed by Fox News: “I would go in there because she was such an inspiration to me. She’s one of those persons that if she has an idea and she has a passion for it, she’s going to follow through with it.” It appeared as if things were going great but all of that would come to a stop with one sudden Facebook post.
4 Miles 2 Memphis Closes Down
In October 2013, Danielle, unfortunately, announced on Facebook that 4 Miles 2 Memphis, her store, would be closing its doors for good. Despite the fact that the business had been merged with a friend’s not long before the announcement, it appears it was too late for them to save it. First, she didn’t have much success with roller derby, and now another passion of hers, picking, appeared as if it wouldn’t further her career either. However, where a lot of people might have drowned in such failure, Danielle went on pushing ahead. She looked at the situation as an opportunity to consider her life and think if she could turn another passion into profit.
A Genuine Animal Lover
Danielle is a genuine animal lover and is active in many charities and benefit events for animals, particularly for dogs. In 2013, Danielle adopted Vida, her own four-legged friend, from a Chicago shelter around the same time that she opened 4 Miles 2 Memphis, though she is not content to simply adopt and is active in PAWS, the organization which helps animals that are in need of finding homes. She is also an advocate for giving Pitbulls a fair treatment since she insists that the breed is misunderstood because of bad representation in entertainment. Her social media accounts show Danielle’s love of animals, as there are pictures of her posing with them and she often advocates for their adoption. However, animals aren’t the only ones keeping Danielle occupied.
A Recognizable Public Figure
With a well-known stage presence in burlesque and a long career on a well-known show, Danielle has become a recognizable public figure, which means that she is expected to sacrifice part of her spare time to take part in meet-and-greet events. Some people find this responsibility alongside the feeling of getting constantly recognized exhausting, but not for her. Danielle regularly attends events that give her a chance to meet her fans and socialize with her adoring fans, many of whom are male viewers of the show who gravitate towards her strong personality and self-assured behavior. Even with her limited free time, she has decided to dedicate some of it to another organization which she cares about and for people that are seriously in need.
Bringing Change Abroad
For Danielle Colby, life is not just all about fame, fashion, and dance, and if fact, she is actively involved in the organization Batey Girls, which is under the Batey Rehab Project. The aim of Batey Girls is to provide economic opportunities for women and girls who have suffered abuse in the Dominican Republic. The project has different ways of raising money for the girls and women but one, in particular, is closest to Danielle’s heart. A lot of the survivors use local resources to make jewelry, and Danielle is happy to buy them, often bringing the jewelry to America to resell them. However, back home, one passion of hers refused to go away, which beckons her to keep doing it.
Far More Rewarding
Danielle performs as a burlesque dancer with her stage name Dannie Diesel. Some people may consider burlesque an intentionally seductive dance style, but for Danielle, it is far more rewarding, and she told Metro Times in an interview that for her, she doesn’t think about being racy at all when she’s on stage. The burlesque dancer said it herself, “What’s on my mind is my core balance, my ability to breathe within a moment. It takes a lot to just stand and have a moment of pause. You’re barring a huge part of yourself…” However, could this sense of balance be something that Danielle can implement in maintaining her burlesque career and her work on American Pickers?
Her Own Academy
Seven years before Danielle started working on American Pickers, she was a passionate burlesque dancer, and now, even after experiencing the trials that a failed business brings, she still decided to share her passion for burlesque with everyone. In 2014, she started Dannie Diesel’s Bump n’ Grind Academy, which advocates for burlesque and encourages young people who have an interest in exploring the art. However, for Danielle, the academy isn’t only about dance, and she had this to say, “A lot of us, as women, hold ourselves back and apologize for our awesome moments — ‘Oh, that’s nothing!’ — but we need to embrace them and have more awesome moments.” Now came the hard part because much of Danielle’s income was from American Pickers and there was no certainty that the show would be willing to be part of her dual-career balance.
Apparently, the show was quite willing to work things out with Danielle Colby if it meant they could keep her front and center. She would work half a month on American Pickers and half a month in her burlesque business, and the show even hired an assistant to help her around the shop. Mike gave her the most support and when Fox News asked him about his colleague’s beloved pastime, he said this: “You know, Danielle and I’ve known each other for 25 years, and she’s always been this creative force. So when I see her doing something that she loves, it’s really her best moments, because she’s a very, very passionate person.” It looked as if Danielle was staying, but she had to execute one final task.
Personal Role Model
Danielle looks up to a lot of women as a burlesque dancer – those who have paved the way for other dancers and have had the opportunity to shake things up on stage. When Danielle was given the chance, she decided to executive produce a documentary about one of her personal role models and favorite burlesque dancers of all time – a woman by the name Tempest Storm. With a history that involves legendary musicians and even one president, Tempest Storm’s life was great for making a compelling documentary. On IMDb, the documentary has a 7.2 rating. Danielle was gushing about how she was very much excited to be able to finally perform together with her hero in Las Vegas, but for the multi-talented woman, one doesn’t have to be loud when telling stories.
Special And Symbolic
For Danielle Colby, getting a tattoo is not something done on a whim. She has more than 30 ink marks on her entire body, but each one represents something that is special to her and symbolizes an event that has happened to her. When reporters asked Danielle about what her tattoos mean to her, she said that her ink marks “are about death and love and people I’ve lost.” However, they are about life as well: for example, the tattoos on her hands are images drawn by her kids. As such, they serve as a reminder to never lose hope and keep moving forward in spite of whatever life throws at you.