An actor who left Britain’s shores to make it big in Hollywood says he has not forgotten his Banbury roots.
Danny De Lillo, who used to live in Bloxham and Banbury while he was training, has landed a presenting role in a show called British Invasion LA as well as being selected as part of BAFTA LA’s Brits to Watch list.
He has appeared in films including dark thriller Drive By Sunset, short film Proximity, and Red Heart, a romantic drama set on the day of the royal wedding.
Danny studied a BTEC in performing arts at North Oxfordshire College before it became part of Oxford and Cherwell Valley College. While he was studying, he worked at TK Max.
He gained essential funding from Banbury Charities to study a course at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
Speaking to the Banbury Guardian, from Los Angeles, Danny said: “I had the best years of my life during my time at Banbury and my family still lives in the area. I am really grateful for all the people I have met.
“When I was in Banbury, I grew into myself as a person and I quickly made really good friends at college. I just really fell in love with the community.”
He added two teachers in particular at college, Nasser Memarzia and Karen Ford, were an inspiration.
“If I hadn’t decided to go to the crazy world I’m now in, I would still be living in Banbury. I have friends I have kept in touch with,” he said.
But, he added, he didn’t come back to Banbury as often he wanted.
“When I come back, I always ask my mum if we can go home via Banbury. I sometimes just walk there and feel like I’m 16 again and have all the memories of being in Costa and going to the pizza place!”
He also enjoys a decent cup of tea when he comes home.
“Tea is such a funny thing. If you ask to put the kettle on in the UK, it is such a natural thing to do. If you do it here in LA, you are asked if you want ginger tea, lemon tea or peppermint tea. There is a large British community here and we all stick together.”
Actor training in the US is also different to the UK with more of a focus on film and television.
“The prestige of schools is much bigger in the UK, but the reason I went to the States is because it has more of a focus on TV and film.
“It’s strict as well – you have to be on time. It is very disciplined and it prepares you for the industry because there is so much that goes into making a TV show and you have to be on your guard.”
Danny has completed the pilot for his British Invasion LA television show and is currently working on the next episode.
He added: “Out of respect for their privacy, I won’t mention the names of the well-known people with whom I socialise without asking their permission first, however I have had the pleasure of working and socialising with Janice Dickinson which is information you can discover online.
“While I am not pals with these individuals, I have had the extraordinary honour and pleasure of meeting Benedict Cumberbatch, Alex Kingston, Ioan Gruffudd, Idris Elba, George Clooney, and Sir Ben Kingsley.
“A veteran entertainment professional tells me it is not name-dropping if you have actually met the celebrity.”
He added: “It is also awards season so it has been particularly busy. It has been an incredible amount of fun. I’ve been co-hosting a show with Janice Dickinson – she kept me on my toes – and that was my first experience of live television.”
On one occasion, Janice was unavailable so Danny had to host an episode on his own.
“The show had to go on,” Danny said. “I used the training from Cherwell College which said you had to get on with it so I did the show by myself.”
When he returns to Banbury, he hopes to be an inspiration to others and would like to talk to the current students on his BTEC course to encourage them to reach for the stars.
Back in Hollywood, Danny is on the board of directors for New Filmmakers Los Angelesand has also served in the BAFTA LA outreach programme.
“I have never worked so hard in my life. You are a business while you are here and I believe if you have been given the opportunity to have a platform through the entertainments industry you have a duty to help your community and be a great role model,” he said.
“It is something that is important to me.”
> You can follow Danny’s Hollywood adventures on Twitter at @dannydelillo