Elta Danneel Graul was born on the 18th March 1979 in Lafayette, Louisiana (brought up in Eunice) to parents Deborah and Edward. She has one sibling, a brother named Gino Graul and also a niece. Danneel’s unique name came from two pieces of inspiration; Elta after her great-grandmother and Danneel after the street in New Orleans. According to Danneel, she has never went by Elta:
‘We used to live in New Orleans. My first name is actually Elta, but I don’t go by it. I’ve always gone by my middle name.’
Her full stage name became Danneel Harris, with the surname coming from an, as of now, unknown source.
In regards to education, Danneel attended Eunice High School where she was also a cheerleader for the Bobcats. She then progressed to Louisiana State University where she studied Mass Communications.
From here she started the process of working her way into the entertainment business; something which started with her then-boyfriend, Riley Smith. With Riley’s mother being a modelling agent, she got in contact with a number of agencies when Danneel and Riley travelled to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Soon after she booked gigs with various companies, such as Big Sexy Hair and Juicy Jeans.
So he helped me with auditions and stuff. I supported myself by modelling for a couple years, and then I auditioned for a commercial and I booked it. So I was like, “Yeah, okay, maybe I’ll do this.” I guest-starred on MadTV a couple times.
Modelling was a big part of her career as throughout the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, Danneel featured in the Maxim Hot 100 and regularly did photoshoots and interviews for them. She even hosted the Maxim Hot 100 E!Special! Working on commercials and small roles on MadTV led to Danneel’s first role as Kate in What I Like About You. In this teen drama, she starred in 4 episodes opposite Amanda Bynes. The 23rd January marked the first of her appearances, with the last being in April 2004.
Her casting in What I Like About You the led to one of the biggest roles to date; Shannon McBain on the soap drama, One Life to Live. On the 23rd March, Shannon first appeared on screen.
[The soap schedule is pretty tough for any actor, but it must have been extra hard since it was your first contract role?] At first I was really freaked out because I had only worked on sitcoms and we would rehearse Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then tape on Friday. My first day on the job they give me my lines. I’m like, “Okay,” and I go up there and I’m thinking we’ll have rehearsal and then we’ll have dress rehearsal then we’ll shoot it. And it’s like, we go up there, I say my lines and they say, “Thank you.” I learned that if you say your lines correctly they’re using it. It was so completely different that it blew me away for a second. I’ve gotten used to it.
During her tenure in OLTL, Danneel also took part in an extremely brief role in the comedy short, The Plight of Clownana. The short also starred Jensen Ackles, who she had previously met at a party. A change in her life came in November, when she was released from her OLTL contract. However it didn’t dent her spirits, as the 18th November marked her first appearance as Katie in FRIENDS spin-off; Joey. Nearly 2 weeks before her final Joey episode aired, Danneel’s role as Shannon McBain came to an end in late December.
From February to October in 2005, Danneel enjoyed a number of different guest spots on various shows such as JAG, where she appeared twice as Cameron Cresswell, and portrayed an alternate version of Paige in the witch drama, Charmed. In March she took part in the theatre play 12th Premise.
The 1st September marked an important day as it was announced she had been cast as Rachel Gatina,a ‘villainess’ promised to ‘stir things up for the kids’. Following a role in another short movie titled ‘Rule Number One’, Rachel Gatina’s first appearance came on the 26th October, in the season 3 episode titled ‘An Attempt to Tip the Scales’. The iconic moment of Rachel dressed up as Pamela Anderson shall never be forgotten!
2006 brought the year where Danneel and Jensen appeared together in the cult indie movie ‘Ten Inch Hero’, which according to Danneel, they weren’t even aware each other had the part! April was the month filming finished, and according to Jensen is when he and Danneel started dating and fell in love.
“Ten Inch Hero also has a special place in my heart, since it’s where Danneel and I fell in love.”
– Jensen Ackles
This month also marked Danneel signing onto One Tree Hill season 4 as a season regular, with filming commencing in March 2007. That same year, Ten Inch Hero was released at festivals and eventually on DVD to great acclaim.
In 2008, while filming and appearing in One Tree Hill, Danneel appeared in numerous popular shows such as CSI, Free Radio and How I Met Your Mother. This year however also marked a number of movie projects. She appeared in the hugely popular Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay as Vanessa Fanning, Kumar’s ex-girlfriend. Another movie, Extreme Movie was released, and in July she filmed Mardi Gras: Spring Break (which wasn’t released until 3 years later in 2011). In regards to One Tree Hill, Danneel only appeared in 2 episodes of Season 5.
Various appearances on TV in 2009 included NCIS, Trust Me and CSI:Miami. On the 1st June, her casting as Irene in Thriller, The Roommate was announced and 4 weeks later it was revealed she would be returning after a nearly 2 season absence, as Rachel in One Tree Hill for season 7. On the 7th December, Rachel Gatina appeared on One Tree Hill for the very last time, leaving a bit of a sour taste in many fans mouths.
This year also marked a huge development in her personal life; on the 9th November, while attending the Breeder’s Cup with Jensen, Danneel showed off her custom designed engagement, confirmed she and Jensen were to be married!
May 2010 was a very busy month for Danneel! On the 7th, her movie with Jennifer Lopez, The Back-Up Plan, was released. On the 15th, she stunned everyone with her beautiful dress as she and Jensen married in Dallas, Texas surrounded by friends and family. They both abandoned a honeymoon as a day later they were in New York, with Danneel preparing to walk the red carpet at the NBC Upfronts for her new TV show, Friends with Benefits. This show was a hilarious comedy that had been picked up for a season the day before.
In early 2011 Danneel was cast as Allie in the NBC pilot, I Hate That I Love You, however the project was later abandoned. After The Roommate was released, Friends with Benefits finally began airing on NBC. However in September the show was cancelled. A sequel to Harold and Kumar, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas was released on the 9th December.
In 2012/2013, Danneel made numerous guest spots on TV shows such as Retired at 35, How to Live With Your Parents and an appearance in the Christmas movie, with former OTH co-star Hilarie Burton, titled Naughty or Nice.
On the 7th January, it was announced that Danneel was expecting her and Jensen’s first child! As you can imagine, the whole fandom was so excited and happy for them. While supporting Jensen at the PCA’s, she showed off her adorable baby bump (and amazing fashion sense!) Using Twitter, she revealed in February that they were expecting a baby girl.
The 30th May marked the day that a little bit of Justice was brought into the world; Danneel gave birth to Justice Jay ‘JJ’ Ackles, however they rightly so didn’t announce it until the 6th June.
On the 19th July, we exclusively revealed that Danneel had been given the main role in Baby Bootcamp, a fun family friendly movie.
2014/2015 has been relatively quiet years for Danneel as she enjoys being a mummy first. Baby Bootcamp was released in April in the UK, with France and America following. On the 22nd April she had a brief appearance in the music video for Sandra Lynn’s video, You Belong. During 2014, Jensen, Danneel and JJ relocated to Austin, Texas.
One hilarious project released was with Misha Collins, a movie short titled ‘TSA:America – Suspicious Bulges’, that gave us a glimpse of Danneel’s dirty humour. The project aired during a livestream at a Supernatural convention, with the DVD being available to buy online.
On the 10th August 2016, Danneel and Jensen revealed on their social media that they were expecting new additions to the family. That’s right, additions! They are expecting a little boy and girl and it seems to be a big celebration among the Padackles families, as Genevieve and Jared are also expecting their third child together.
On the 3rd December 2016, Jensen confirmed via an Instagram post that Danneel had given birth the previous day. The twins, a boy and girl, are named Zeppelin Bram Ackles and Arrow Rhodes Ackles.
In 2017, it was revealed that Jensen would be opening a new brewery in Austin titled ‘The Family Business Brewery’. The venture was established and created alongside Danneel’s brother Gino Graul. From pictures posted on various social media of the family, we can see that Danneel is very supportive of the brewery, also playing a part in the opening of it.
The official opening date is in October 2017.
After the birth of her twins, Danneel has been prominent on social media depicting her health and lifestyle journey. With Genevieve recently opening a new website, who is to say Danneel might not open a similar one!
At the start of December 2017, it was announced that Danneel was finally joining Supernatural, something fans had been hoping for many years! In fact it was something Danneel herself jokingly said was going to happen a few years ago, who knew!
Last updated: 03/02/2018, 27/08/2017, 31/12/2016