Growing up in Alberta, Canada, Danielle didn’t consider herself much of a gamer—that is, not until she was 14, when her father brought home a PlayStation 3.
“It’s crazy how one console changes the path of your life,” said Danielle, “because that’s what happened for me.”
Danielle had dabbled in gaming on older consoles like the Nintendo 64, but her primary source of entertainment was “still running outside, catching frogs and stuff.” But when her older brother—”the sibling I always looked up to”—took a liking to Call of Duty: Black Ops, she decided to give the game a shot.
Until Danielle picked up Call of Duty, her experience with video games had been a mixed bag. She blazed through Little Big Planet on her family’s PS3, but was put off by the mechas in Metal Gear Solid. “They scared me, so I was like, ‘no, this isn’t my game,’” said Danielle. But within a month of playing CoD, she was addicted, playing deep into the night and forging online friendships closer than any of her meatspace relationships. Soon enough, Danielle’s parents got her a console of her own.
“My brother was like, ‘Danny, come into my room.’ And my dad’s kind of standing around the door, and my brother’s like, ‘look in here!’ It was his laundry basket. And I looked in, and it was a brand-new Xbox 360. I remember jumping up—I was freaking out, I was crying, he started crying, he was so excited for me,” said Danielle. “I didn’t come from a super rich family, so it was so awesome that my dad did that.”
Her brother’s interest in Call of Duty waned as he grew older, serving in the Canadian Army Reserve for a year and eventually becoming a police officer. On the contrary, Danielle became increasingly involved in the CoD scene, joining Team FeaR’s all-female squad at age 15 before a stint with Team Obey. “We had to practice and scrim, and I kind of excelled at that,” said Danielle. “It came naturally—I just hit my shots and I got my kills.”
As Danielle drew attention for her prodigious skill, pro players began to follow her on Twitter. By the time she graduated from high school, she was known as an avid gamer among her peers.
With the encouragement of ex-boyfriend FaZe Agony, Danielle began to stream on the side while working a nine-to-five gig as a restaurant hostess. Her warm personality meshed well with her considerable gaming skill, and her stream rapidly grew in popularity, leading Team Kaliber (tK) to invite her to join as a content creator.
Within a few months of joining tK, Danielle was able to quit her restaurant job and stream full-time. After securing a work visa, she moved to the United States from her hometown of Devon, Alberta.
Danielle’s rise as a streamer brought with it a slew of new challenges—challenges exacerbated by her vulnerable position as one of the few women occupying a prominent role within the Call of Duty scene.
Throughout her time in the limelight, Danielle has faced criticism from members of the community who claim that her rise as a streamer was the result of her gender alone, rather than her gaming skill and ability as an entertainer. Additionally, she is often forced to deal with anonymous creeps who pepper her social media with lewd comments or messages. “The best thing to do is to just ignore them,” said the streamer.
Danielle’s confidence in dismissing her haters is bolstered by the loyalty of her first-ever sponsor. “Nowadays, it’s like women are everything. All these companies are like, ‘yeah, let’s get some girl gamers!’ G FUEL's not like that. From the beginning, they were like, ‘girl gamers are strong, they’re powerful.’ G FUEL believed in girl gamers before everyone hopped on the boat,” said Danielle. “That’s why I will support G FUEL for the rest of my life, because they’ve supported me through all the s*** I’ve gone through.”
These days, Danielle is thriving. When creeps enter her stream chat, she trolls them right back, enlisting her thousands of subscribers to help drive bad vibes out of the stream. She’s comfortably in a relationship with Team Reciprocity Rainbow 6 Siege pro FoxA, and has returned to serious competition, founding a team, Queen Yolo Mid, for the Cyberathlete Championship Series Rainbow 6 Women’s league.
“You can’t give up,” said Danielle. “It’s like starting at the bottom of a company and trying to get to the top. It’s not going to happen in a year, won’t happen in a month, won’t happen in a week. The streamers you look up to, they’ve put at least five years into what they’re doing, and it pays off. But the thing is, it’s a hard road to travel. You’re going to go through your ups and downs, and you don’t have much stability.”
It’s been a long road indeed for Danielle, who’s the first to admit that she’s “been through some s***.” But now that she’s made it through, she’s flourishing. She has a great sponsor, a loyal band of subscribers (some of whom have followed her for as long as four years), and a team of kick-ass female Rainbow 6 players at her back.
“I know I’m not just good for being a girl—I’m good for being a gamer. I don’t have to prove any of that,” said Danielle. “And I didn’t choose the gender I was born. It’s the gender I was given. So that shouldn’t stop anyone from believing that I can be a gamer, just like millions of guys in the world.”
All photos via Instagram/fooya
This article was written by Alexander Lee, an esports journalist, lifelong Nintendo fan, and proud cat dad. Follow him on Twitter @alexleewastaken, and check out more of his work on his website www.alexlee.work.