Drena De Niro has had a varied career steeped in the arts. This is no break from family tradition – as the biological daughter of Diahnne Abbot and the adoptive daughter of star American actor Robert De Niro, her family has a long history of engagement in the entertainment industry. She has forayed into the acting, musical direction, film direction and other various fields, displaying an ability to adapt, and now boasts a host of accolades.
Early life and Family
Drena was born on the 3rd of September 1976 in New York City, USA. She and her biological mother, Diahnne Abbot, have never revealed the identity of her biological father, however, it is known that she was named after the Drina Stream, a prominent feature in a book her parents were fond of.
Drena reveals that she never knew him, and he wasn’t involved in her upbringing, often described as ‘bohemian’, indicating the nomadic nature of her youth. She spent her time divided between New York, Los Angeles, and Italy. The extended amounts of time that she spent in these hubs of creativity and art further perpetuated the lifestyle of her parents, having a direct impact on her later career and life choices.
In 1976, Drena’s mother married Robert De Niro, and her half brother Raphael was born that same year as a result of that union. Drena took the surname of her stepfather who played a pivotal paternal role in her life.
This marriage ended in 1988, but Drena still retained her relationship with Robert. The colorful family dynamic is mirrored in her array of stepsiblings, including twins Aaron Kendrik and Julian De Niro born 1995, and Elliot and Helen Grace De Niro, children of Robert De Niro’s second marriage to Grace Hightower.
Drena De Niro’s early education is still cloaked in obscurity. She hasn’t discusse her schooling or made any references to any tertiary education. Despite this, there is a minimal amount of information known about her acting education – Drena studied acting under the auspices of Larry Moss, who penned the “Intent to Live”, an extensive exploration of successful acting.
She also attended The Black Nexus Acting Studio, where she was trained by Susan Batson.
Drena De Niro first emerged into the limelight when she launched her modeling career. She modeled for prominent designers including Jean-Paul Gaultier – the French designer famous for his costuming of Madonna – and Vivienne Westwood, an innovative British designer. This era of her career predates her advances into other industries, but they still stand her in good stead, as she employs the knowledge she gained in this time to provide fashion advice for Hollywood celebrities.
De Niro also enjoyed tenure as a contributing editor to the women’s magazine, “Mademoiselle”.
Alongside her fashion career, Drena gained acclaim for her work as a disc jockey, a reputation that soon led to the blending of her career fields when she was contracted to work for Giorgio Armani, a renowned Italian luxury designer, who employed her exclusively to arrange and select music for Armani stores, and high-end fashion shows. This allowed her to express both her prowess in the fashion industry and her ear for music. The end of her work with Armani also symbolized the end of an era for her, as she transitioned into her most prolific phase: that of an actress.
It is in this phase of her life that the timeline becomes most clear, and we know the most about her blossoming career. After she played her first minor role in the film “Grace of my Heart” in 1996, De Niro went on to become a prolific actress. Aside from inspiring her, Robert De Niro also proceeded to appear in multiple films alongside his adoptive daughter; the first of these films was “Wag the Dog”, and most recently “The Intern”, and “Hands of Stone”.
Drena played her first leading role in “On the Run” in 1991, portraying the character Rita.
Although this may have been her most prominent role for a time, De Niro has starred in many pertinent roles throughout her career. As an echo to her musical career alongside Giorgio Armani, Drena flaunted her singing and musical ability on screen, also playing the voice artist for several animated films, including “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” in 2000. In addition, she has made various stage appearances in Theatrelab, Beckett Theatre, and New Yorcian Theatre productions. She displays her versatility through her various pursuits within the arts, moving seamlessly between stage and screen.
Producing and Directing
Drena made waves in the directing community with the release of her narrative documentary, “Girls and Dolls” in 2001. Her talent and promise in the industry were immediately apparent, and at the New York Independent Film and Video Festival she was rewarded with the Best Directorial Debut for Documentary Award. In 2009, she went on to assist as a producer of “Karma, Confessions and Holi” – and Indian drama.
Drena De Niro currently resides in New York with her son Leonardo De Niro Rodriguez who was born in 2004. Although she is now single, she was briefly engaged to the American photographer Austin Young.
Despite the divorce of her mother and Robert De Niro, she retains a close relationship with her (adoptive) stepfather, purportedly breaking off her engagement with Young because Robert De Niro disapproved of the relationship.
Drena manages to keep a mostly impeccable reputation. The only stain is a rumored fiasco when she was witnessed violently assaulting her ex-fiancée, ripping his shirt and pummelling him with her fists while he was walking his dog. The event was witnessed by a passer-by, but the catalyst for the event is unknown.
Standing at 5ft 8ins (1.72m), De Niro has maintained her appearance over the years.
Her black hair and dark brown eyes are reminiscent of her mixed heritage – her mother’s family originating from Creole, Africa, and Antigua. She is slim and weighs approximately 132lbs (60kgs).
Drena De Niro boasts a net worth of $300 000, accumulated from her various ventures in the entertainment industry – namely her films that number somewhere upwards of 30. Acting remains her primary source of income on which she supports herself and her son Leonardo. Her annual income varies according to the projects she works.
— Rosie Perez (@rosieperezbklyn) January 10, 2013
Since 2006, Drena has been the spokesperson for the Kageno Orphan Sponsorship Program, providing a voice and a source of hope for children stranded in Kenya and Rwanda. This expresses her interest in world events, and her compassion for those in need.
Drena’s interests are not limited to those of the performing arts such as music and acting. De Niro is also well versed in martial arts, yoga, and Muay Thai. She is also an avid equestrian enthusiast, and takes every opportunity she gets to go riding – an activity that is not readily available in the suburbs of New York.