The untold truth of Robert De Niro's daughter

It goes without saying that Robert De Niro is nothing short of a Hollywood legend. Known for his gritty, memorable roles in Raging Bull, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and countless other award-winning films, De Niro is one of those iconic actors who it would be pretty much impossible not to know. However, even some of the biggest De Niro fans may not know that the actor has a daughter, Drena De Niro, whom he adopted during his first marriage to Diahnne Abbott.

While Drena hasn't yet experienced the same interstellar heights of fame as her father, she seems to have the same talent for acting and filmmaking. According to her Instagram bio, Drena wears a lot of hats — she is a "mama, actor, filmmaker, meditator, yogi & friend, advocate & defender of animals, children and Mother Nature." Quite the resume! By the sounds of things, De Niro's eldest keeps herself incredibly busy with both personal and artistic endeavors. Here is the untold truth of Robert De Niro's daughter, Drena De Niro.

Drena De Niro was adopted by Robert De Niro in 1976 when he married her mother

Even though Drena De Niro shares the same last name as her father, Robert De Niro, the two are not actually biologically related. According to Closer Weekly, Drena took the De Niro name when her biological mother, singer and actress Diahnne Abbott, married Robert in 1976. Even though the couple split in 1988, Robert remained in Drena's life as her adopted dad.

As Drena explained to Avenue magazine in 2011, growing up with Robert De Niro as a dad was pretty influential. Apparently, her childhood was spent running around her father's film sets in New York. But as far as Drena was concerned, her parents weren't celebrities. "It was just a group of wonderfully crazy, talented people who love each other, and who are doing the best they can," she explained.

Thanks to her father's vibrant career, Drena moved between New York, Los Angeles, and Italy, as a kid. These years spent travelling the world were "very happy years" for Drena. Sounds like Drena De Niro had a pretty incredible childhood!

Robert De Niro's daughter grew up in New York

According to Avenue magazine, Drena De Niro was pretty strongly influenced by where she grew up. Most of her time was spent in Manhattan, N.Y., but when she started elementary school, her family relocated to Los Angeles. And she soon missed the easy-going streets of New York. "I was used to playing with my friends on the street," Robert De Niro's daughter recalled. So, when she was a teenager, Drena made New York her permanent home.

Based on her many posts about New York City, it's clear that she will always call the city home. In 2016, she posted a throwback photo from the '90s on her website and recalled that New York was "more chill" back then. "People hung out more in Soho," she reminisced. She went on to remember how New York was once filled with "art galleries, book stores, art stores, clothing stores," and more — no big-business franchises. It's clear that her early years in New York City gave her a lifelong love of the artistic, vibrant city.

Drena De Niro, Robert De Niro's daughter, used to work as a DJ and still loves music

From her early days as a teen in New York, Drena De Niro developed a passion for music and dance. As she explained to Avenue magazine, New York nightlife played a huge part in her musical tastes. "One thing about being a teen in New York is that you're in clubs before you get your driver's permit," she joked. She went on to explain how she would collect records that she had heard in clubs. Then, for her 17th birthday, Robert De Niro's daughter asked for turntables. What followed was a pretty impressive international DJing career.

But the career ended pretty abruptly. She recalled how one morning in Paris she thought, "I just can't do this anymore." Apparently, the grueling lifestyle had become too much. It was then that Drena turned to acting.

As of 2020, it's clear that music is still a passion for her. She has a house music playlist on YouTube that gives a good inkling of what her DJing tastes may have been.

Robert De Niro's daughter works as a model

One of Drena De Niro's earliest professional ventures was modeling. As she told Avenue magazine, she began modeling at New York Fashion Week when she was still a teen. "Patrick Kelly and Willi Smith were the first that really looked out for me and put me in their shows," she said. Her modeling talents meant that she was soon working for the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood. When Giorgio Armani launched their line aimed at young people, Emporio Armani, Robert De Niro's daughter became the face of the label. She even used her DJing talents for them too. "I coordinated the music for all of the shows, all of the stores, all of the events," she explained.

By the looks of things, Drena De Niro has continued to model throughout her life. In 2016, she posted a throwback photo on Instagram of a 1980s Vivienne Westwood show. And, on her website, she has posted plenty of modeling shots from over the years.

Robert De Niro's daughter, Drena, started acting in New York and L.A.

After a few years of modeling and DJing in New York, Drena De Niro realized that she was destined to follow in her father's footsteps and become an actor. As she explained to Avenue magazine, she had always fit in on her father's film sets, where she had even worked as an extra as a child. Apparently, it was the work ethic that really attracted her to pursue acting. "Everyone was really committed and dedicated to the work," she said. Soon enough, she got her first small role in Grace of My Heart.

According to her website, she trained in acting with a range of well-known teachers in both New York and Los Angeles, including Larry Moss, who also taught Helen Hunt, Hilary Swank, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jim Carrey, and more. Of course, we can only assume that Robert De Niro's daughter had plenty of natural talent on screen after growing up watching her father.

Drena De Niro has appeared in a few well-known movies

Judging by her IMDb page, Drena De Niro has enjoyed a pretty busy acting career since her first role in Grace of My Heart in 1996. In 1998, she appeared in the film Great Expectations, which starred Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, and her father, Robert De Niro. In 2013, she guest starred on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. According to her Instagram page, she got to act alongside Jeffrey Wright and Michael K. Williams in the show. 

In 2016, Drena played Adele in the film Hands of Stone, which featured Usher, John Turturro, and her own father. At a premiere for the film, she told New York Daily News, "At first it was very, very weird and then in a way, once you get down to the work, it was very comforting and great." She later gushed, "Working with him for me is as wonderful as it is for any actor." 

Her other major roles include playing Anita in the mini-series When They See Us, Paulette in A Star Is Born, and Cindy in Joy, again with her father.

Robert De Niro's daughter had a son in 2003

In 2003, Drena De Niro gave birth to her only child, a son she named Leo. In an adorable Instagram post to celebrate his 16th birthday in August 2019, she called him "the love of my life." It's pretty clear the pair have a close relationship.

Speaking to Avenue magazine in 2011, Robert De Niro's daughter shared that she learned a lot from becoming a mother. "I always wanted my son to have a life exactly like mine growing up," she confessed. "But now that I'm a mother, I know it'll be different." She went on to explain that many of the places that made New York a remarkable city have disappeared. "I grew up in an extremely creative place at a time when young artists could live in Manhattan," she said. Even though Drena couldn't give her son the same artistic experience of New York that she got to enjoy as a child, it's clear that she's making sure Leo has a special life.

Robert De Niro's daughter is an award-winning indie film director

Despite working pretty consistently as an actor, Drena De Niro eventually became interested in getting behind the camera. As she told Avenue magazine, she felt more at home in a production role. "I didn't really want to just be told what to do; I also wanted to tell people what to do," she revealed, adding, "That's more my nature." This led her to create her own production company, Daredevil Films and Television. 

In 2001, she directed her first short documentary film called Girls and Dolls. The film, which follows follows New York stylist Robin Newland, is available to watch on Vimeo. According to Drena's IMDb biography, the film premiered on PBS and won Best Directorial Debut in the documentary category at the New York Independent Film and Video Festival in 2001. Based on her website, Robert De Niro's daughter also produced a film called Karma, Confessions, and Holi in 2009, and a film called Furlough in 2017. She was also working on writing and producing a cable TV series in 2017. It sounds like Drena De Niro will be coming out with plenty more work in the future!

Robert De Niro's daughter said this was the "happiest" night of her life

In 2009, Drena De Niro had an experience that she would remember for years to come. She and her whole family attended the Kennedy Center Honors where her father, Robert De Niro, received an award. The highlight of the evening was meeting Barack and Michelle Obama. As Drena recalled, they were the "most charismatic, beautiful, and inspiring people I have ever met."

Drena posted a throwback image of the event in 2020, writing that it was "one of the happiest and most memorable nights of my life." Apparently, she was taking a picture of her father with Barack when he gestured for her to join them. Talk about an unreal evening!

She concluded the touching post by stating, "#BarackObama and #MichelleObama You will always be my #President and #First Lady." It's clear that it meant the world to Drena to meet the Obamas and to see them honor her father!

Drena De Niro, Robert De Niro's daughter, has a real comedic streak

It would be easy to imagine Drena De Niro as quite a serious young creative, what with her history as an edgy DJ, a coveted model, and a serious actor. However, it turns out, Robert De Niro's daughter has a funny bone too. In 2019, she posted a hilarious video on YouTube called, "The Actress Prepares," showcasing the not-so glamorous side of being an actor.

The video begins with about a minute of her self-tape partner trying (and failing) to set up the camera, before showing her impatiently waiting to perform. When the camera is finally ready, Drena tries the same two lines over and over again, getting them wrong every time, in different positions and locations, and she becomes more and more frustrated and angry as the video goes on. It's a simple concept, but Drena perfectly shows the absurdity of the auditioning process — especially when it's done from home!

Robert De Niro's daughter is the spokesperson of a program supporting underprivileged children

In addition to her many artistic endeavors, Drena De Niro is also an activist and an advocate for underprivileged children. In 2011, she told Avenue magazine that she became the spokesperson for the Kageno Orphan Sponsorship Program, which works to build infrastructure in towns in East Africa, in 2006. Apparently, the organization was the brainchild of her friend. She said, "It's seven years old and it's doing great." She went on, "We've completed two programs in Kenya and now we're doing something in Rwanda." In 2008, Robert De Niro's daughter attended the Kageno Harambee Gala to promote Kageno Worldwide, along with her father and actress Meryl Streep, among others.

According to the Kageno website, the mission is to "transform communities in need into places of hope and opportunity." As of 2020, the organization is working in three different sites in Kenya and Rwanda. It sounds like Drena De Niro has made an amazing impact on the world based on what we know about this non-profit.

Drena De Niro, Robert De Niro's daughter, practices yoga and potentially Muay Thai and martial arts

In her spare time, Drena De Niro seems pretty active. Judging by her Instagram bio, one of her greatest loves is yoga, as she describes herself as a "Yogi." She also has a few posts about her practice. In one post showing an impressive headstand from 2020, she wrote, "Waaaaarrrriors come out and plaaaay." Given that one of the hashtags she included as "#myhappyplace," We think it's safe to say that yoga is a huge part of her life.

And by the sounds of things, yoga isn't the only form of physical activity that De Niro enjoys. According to her IMDb bio, she is also experienced in Muay Thai and martial arts. Based on a story in the New York Post, it sounds like this may indeed be true. She and her ex-boyfriend Austin Young reportedly got into a physical fight in 2011. To the publication, Austin said, "She whaled on me, like, 10 times," then added, "She's a Thai boxer, and a very good one." While this story may be a little one-sided, it sounds like Robert De Niro's daughter is not one to mess with!

Robert De Niro's daughter lives in NYC with her son

It's pretty clear that Drena De Niro loves being a New Yorker — so it's no surprise to learn that she still lives there with her son, Leo, as of 2020. According to Avenue magazine, she and Leo live in Tribeca, the same neighborhood where she grew up. According to Zillow, she actually moved into a West Village penthouse purchased by her father for $2.85 million in 2014. The beautiful home features two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, wood floors, high ceilings, and stunning panoramic views of the Hudson River. That is some serious luxury, especially by New York standards!

And based on her Instagram page, Robert De Niro's daughter isn't going to get tired of the city any time soon. In 2020, she posted a selfie from an outdoor cafe, and wrote, "I fkn love #NewYork no matter what ... Shouting out so much love and appreciation to New York Family and Privately owned businesses."

Drena De Niro still sees her father Robert De Niro frequently

One thing's for sure — this father-daughter duo are super close! In 2018, Drena De Niro was her father Robert De Niro's plus-one to an event (via Page Six). That same year, Drena and her father both took part in an interview for Zoomer together, and Drena was sure to protect her father's privacy. Plus, based on Drena's social media, she and her dad always make time to hang out.

In 2018, she posted an image of her and her father seeing the play The Lifespan Of a Fact at Studio 54. Earlier in 2018, she posted an incredible image of Martin Scorsese's birthday party at MoMA, which she attended with her father. And, in 2020, she shared an adorable photo with Robert, writing, "Got a little quality #socialdistancing time with ma daddy today." It's so lovely to see what a strong relationship these two have!