Danielle Evans is gearing up for her third year competing in the upcoming Miss Great Britain pageant competition, after winning Miss Brighton for the second time in a row.
Alongside preparing for the finals in September, the young beauty queen will also be training for the 2022/23 Rugby season, as well as working on her hugely successful ‘TryMe’ campaign.
NationalWorld spoke to Evans after she received her virtual crown for Miss Brighton in 2021, and a year on, we were able to catch up with the Seaford Ladies Rugby prop following her Miss Brighton 2022 success, and discover what else the Seaford Ladies Rugby prop has in the pipeline as she continues to break stereotypes in Women’s sport and beyond.
A couple of weeks ago, England’s Women were named the Grand Slam winners of the TikTok Six Nations tournament.
As well as securing a stunning 16th Grand Slam win, the Red Roses were also part of a hugely historic event in the world of women’s sports - for the first time in history, the Women’s Six Nations were given their own title sponsor in TikTok, and had secured their own calendar space separate from the Men’s tournament.
When asked about the groundbreaking partnership, the beauty-queen-cum-rugby-prop said it was a “much needed move.” She added: “The access (for the Six Nations) was awful so of course it wasn’t going to get the visibility and the coverage it deserved.”
The response the Six Nations received was phenomenal, with records being broken in both TV viewings and those attending the stadiums.
“It shows people are interested,” said Evans. “People want to get to know it…Hopefully more people will get that better understanding of the game and more people will be willing to join.”
As a beauty queen and rugby player, Evans, 25, has consistently faced a wall of labelling, stereotyping and bewilderment that someone could do both.
Being a female rugby player in itself can create hostility, with ill-informed people persistently questioning their strength and mental toughness enough to take it on, but Evans has tackled these mindless conceptions full on, and added Beauty Queen to her résumé as well.
“There’s such a stereotype in rugby that you have to be this strong, sporty type of person. But it doesn’t have to be that way at all,” contended Evans.
When questioned about the comments she has received as a result of pursuing her two passions, she said: “It’s always the same thing of ‘Really? You don’t look like you could do that’ and it’s like, ‘Well why?’ Is it because I’m a plus size person, is that why I can’t compete in pageants? Because obviously I can! Or if I’m too glamorous does that mean I can’t go run around a pitch?’”
In a bid to tackle such tedious typecasting, Evans launched the ‘TryMe’ campaign in 2019, and saw an immediate response of 60,000 people joining up within its first two months.
“The results were just so humbling, (to see) that people were so interested in that message of breaking those stereotypes and showing that you can be both - no-one should define your limits. It sounds cheesy, but it is the truth.”
As her campaign continues to thrive and reach international audiences, Evans remains committed to bringing her message to smaller communities in need.
With the likes of Stud in the Mud charity founder Zainab Alema featuring on her Facebook episodes, Evans has said that, while she dreams of having the Red Roses on future episodes, her main priority is still bringing awareness to other smaller clubs: “It’s important to bring awareness to people like myself, or in the local community that need that extra support.”
Not only does Evans have to contend with the battle of baseless stereotyping, but she was also born prematurely, leaving her with a lifelong lung condition.
But the prop remains defiant in her disability and hopes that her inclusivity campaign ‘Try Me’ can also extend to those who fear their physical condition could hamper any chance of picking up a sport, especially one as intense as rugby.
“Having a disability is scary. I have a number of health conditions but I’ve still found a place in rugby. It doesn’t matter where you come from, there’s a place for you in the game.
“With the right people around you, you’ll never feel embarrassed about your disability - and that’s the message to get across.”
Evan’s position in the pageantry community allows her to continue her fight for more inclusivity and, despite the pageantry world’s growing acceptance of breaking the classic beauty queen stereotype, Miss Brighton 2022 makes it clear that her fight is still ongoing: “There are some beauty pageants that are still restrictive but I hope in time they will progress in the same way Miss Great Britain has.
“There is a need for people to feel represented. I think it’s so important that pageant systems have moved on from that ‘you have to be a certain weight, a certain size’ - you shouldn’t be defined by anything.”