The father-daughter pair make one annual trip into the spotlight each year, at the Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Gala in Louisville, Kentucky — the same party at which Birkhead, 46, met Smith years ago.
“Kentucky Derby time once again. Dannielynn looks pretty in pink in her dress by Junona and her Mom’s hat from her unforgettable appearance at The Kentucky Derby in 2004 #KentuckyDerby2019,” the proud dad tweeted in celebration of the 2019 fête this past Saturday.
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Derby aside, Birkhead, who works as a photographer and dabbles in real estate, has made it clear that he’s doing his best to make sure Dannielynn’s childhood is as normal as possible — which means rejecting any opportunity to thrust her into the limelight.
“I’ve had companies call me since [Dannielynn appeared in a Guess campaign] and ask for her to model, and that answer’s no,” he said during a 20/20 interview in 2017. “She doesn’t show any interest in it. She wants to be a kid.”
Birkhead said during the same interview that Dannielynn enjoyed doing typical tween things, like Girl Scouts, Snapchat, eating French fries and taking care of her pet lizard.
“I think here in Kentucky is as normal as you can get,” he told Inside Edition in 2017. “She loves school. She loves her friends. I just hope that she dreams big and accomplishes a lot.”
One thing Dannielynn does tend to dream about? Birkhead’s love life. He told Entertainment Tonight that she likes encouraging her father to go on dates: “It’s cute when she tries to push me out of the house and get me to date and do things.”
Birkhead also told the outlet that Dannielynn frequently suggests celebrities for him to date — including Britney Spears and Ariana Grande! — but that, as he told Wendy Williams in 2017, he doesn’t get out much because he’s “packing the lunches” and “doing the field trips.”
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“She is clinging to the female teachers,” he added in his interview with ET. “She’s clingy to her girlfriends’ moms and she’ll say things like, ‘Do you want to adopt me? Would you be my honorary mother?’ She tends to do that a lot.”
Despite their low-key life, Birkhead knows that information about Smith’s past is readily available on the internet for Dannielynn to find, prompting him to take steps to ensure she knows not to believe everything she reads.
“I have a block on her [internet]. We go to the store and she sees magazine covers and stuff and we sit down and I have a talk with her and say, ‘You know, you’re gonna see these things that come out about your mom and not everything that you’re gonna see is true,’ ” Birkhead told Williams in 2017.
“And the thing is, is that what I do is, I take a little bit of Anna’s life and I put it into lessons. And I say, ‘You can learn from this and … there’s some things [that are] maybe not the greatest, but there are also some really good things that you’re not going to hear about and let me tell you those things.’ “
The pair are also content living on Birkhead’s own salary — and not the wealth Dannielynn may inherit from her mom.
“My daughter asks me about that all the time, she’s like, ‘Can we go shopping ’cause we’re worth all this money?’ And she’s supposed to be one of the richest kids in the world,” he told Williams. “And I’m like, ‘No, that’s not… We do okay but we’re not … we’re rich in love.”
Birkhead said his desire to protect his daughter comes with her mother’s fame, as the former Playboy model was plagued by those looking to make a quick buck.
“I try to keep people updated [on Dannielynn] and things, but there’s some people that Anna didn’t even really know that went out and wrote books about her, and that the 10th anniversary [of her death] came and all of Anna’s childhood photos were put on the auction block,” he said.
The father of one continued, “And so you kind of have to keep your guard up when you have a little one and you don’t know who’s genuine and who’s not.”