Drena De Niro has had a varied career in art. This isn’t a break from family tradition — as the biological daughter of Diahnne Abbot and the adopted daughter of American star actor Robert De Niro, her family has a long history of involvement in the entertainment industry. She has dabbled in acting, musical direction, film directing and other various fields, demonstrating adaptability, and now boasts a host of awards.
Early life and family
Drena was born on 3ed of September 1976 in New York City, USA. She and her biological mother, Diahnne Abbot, never revealed the identity of her biological father, but she is known to have been named after the Drina stream, a prominent feature in a book her parents loved.
Drena reveals that she never knew him and that he was uninvolved in her upbringing, often described as “bohemian,” hinting at the nomadic nature of her childhood. She spent her time in New York, Los Angeles and Italy. The long time she spent in these centers of creativity and art further perpetuated her parents’ lifestyle, which directly influenced 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 father role in her life.
This marriage ended in 1988, but Drena still maintained her relationship with Robert. The colorful family dynamic is reflected in her string of stepsisters, including twins Aaron Kendrik and Julian De Niro born in 1995, and Elliot and Helen Grace De Niro, children of Robert De Niro’s second marriage to Grace Hightower.
Drena De Niro’s early upbringing is still shrouded in mystery. She has not discussed her education or referred to a tertiary education. Despite this, a minimal amount of information is known about her acting training – Drena studied acting under the auspices of Larry Moss, who wrote the “Intent to Live”, a comprehensive exploration of successful acting.
She also attended The Black Nexus Acting Studio where she was trained by Susan Batson.
Drena De Niro first came to limelight when she launched her modeling career. She modeled for prominent designers including Jean-Paul Gaultier – the French designer famous for his Madonna costumes – and Vivienne Westwood, an innovative British designer. This era of her career predates her advancement into other industries, but they still serve her well as she uses the knowledge gained during this time to provide fashion advice to Hollywood celebrities.
De Niro also enjoyed a tenured position as editor of the women’s magazine “Mademoiselle”.
In addition to her fashion career, Drena earned acclaim for her work as a disc jockey, a reputation that soon led to her career fields merging when she was hired to work for Giorgio Armani, a renowned Italian luxury designer, who employed her exclusively to create 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 productive phase: that of an actress.
It is at this stage of her life that the timeline becomes clearest and we know the most about her blossoming career. After landing her first small role in the movie “Grace of my Heart” in 1996, De Niro became a prolific actress. Besides inspiring her, Robert De Niro also appeared 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 starring role in “On the Run” in 1991, playing the character Rita.
While this may have been her most prominent role for a while, De Niro has appeared in many relevant roles throughout her career. As an echo of her musical career alongside Giorgio Armani, Drena flaunted her singing and musical skills on screen and also played the voice actor for several animated films, including “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” in 2000. In addition, she has several stage appearances in productions by Theatrelab, Beckett Theater and New Yorcian Theater. She demonstrates her versatility through her various pursuits within the arts, moving seamlessly between stage and screen.
Producing and directing
Drena made waves in the directorial community with the release of her narrative documentary, “Girls and Dolls” in 2001. Her talent and promise in the industry were immediately apparent, and she was awarded Best Directorial Debut at the New York Independent Film and Video Festival for Documentary Award. In 2009, she continued as a producer of “Karma, Confessions and Holi” – and Indian drama.
Drena De Niro currently lives 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 American photographer Austin Young.
Despite the divorce from her mother and Robert De Niro, she maintains a close relationship with her (adoptive) stepfather, reportedly breaking off her engagement to Young because Robert De Niro disapproved of the relationship.
Drena manages to maintain a largely impeccable reputation. The only blemish is a rumored fiasco when she witnessed her ex-fiance being violently assaulted, tearing his shirt and punching him while he was walking his dog. The event was witnessed by a passerby, but the catalyst for the event is unknown.
At 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in) tall, De Niro has maintained her looks over the years.
Her black hair and dark brown eyes are reminiscent of her mixed heritage – her mother’s family hailing from Creole, Africa and Antigua. She is slim and weighs about 60 kg.
Drena De Niro has a net worth of $300,000 built up from her various ventures in the entertainment industry – namely her films numbering more than 30. Acting remains her main source of income by which she supports herself and her son Leonardo. Her annual income varies depending on the projects she works on.
— Rosie Perez (@rosieperezbklyn) January 10, 2013
Since 2006, Drena has been the spokesperson for the Kageno Orphan Sponsorship Program, which provides a voice and source of hope to 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 to go horseback riding – an activity not readily available in the New York suburbs.