Our October CHICA star is ready to take her career to the next level. Her debut album introduced her to the world, but her new project, expected later this fall, will show fans all that DaniLeigh is capable of becoming — a global, genre-spanning star who’s pushing herself farther than ever.
Since getting a dose of viral fame last summer with her video of Drake’s “In My Feelings” challenge, DaniLeigh has toured with Teyana Taylor, released her debut album, gone on her own tour and earned a co-writing credit on Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B’s “Dinero.” Now, just a year later, she’s on the verge of finishing her sophomore effort. “I feel like I have classics on there,” says the South Florida native. “There are a couple of songs on it that people are going to be like, ‘Oh snap, Dani can really sing — she is going in!’ To me, it sounds like a level up.”
The 24-year-old Dominican American wasn’t always this confident in her vocal abilities. “I always had a passion for singing and dancing, but when it came to singing, I was definitely more shy,” she explains. “I felt like I couldn’t really sing. I’d only do it when I was alone.” Early on, she created YouTube covers as a hobby, but when it came to dance, she knew that she had it — she’d been dancing since childhood. At 18, she was casually asked by Prince to direct and star in his “Breakfast Can Wait” music video. “A big moment in my career was when Prince gave me the opportunity to direct his video,” she says. “But [even more important was] when I met with Def Jam and got signed.” That’s when she had to make the biggest decision of her life. Go on tour with an artist as a dancer, or get signed to a major label and pursue the music career of her dreams. “That was a time where I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to really do this. I’m going to build with Def Jam and really just push myself.’”
At 16, Dani left her home in Orlando and moved to L.A. with her family so she and her siblings could find a path to the entertainment industry. “We owned a restaurant back in Orlando,” she says, “[My family] lost everything, but it was definitely worth it. My mom works with me as part of my management. It’s her dream to be a big manager and to help her kids with their dreams. Both my parents are really supportive.” The plan was to stay in L.A. for a couple of months, but it’s been nearly 10 years and they’ve made a life there. Her younger sister, Brianna, is a member of the Latin girl group Bella Dose, and her brother, Brandon (artistically known as Brandon Bill$) is an up-and-coming rapper.
At the moment, DaniLeigh is fully content with the way her career is going. “I’ll always want more, and I’ll always strive for the best, but I’m a ‘whatever happens is supposed to happen’ type of person. So everything that I’m doing is a win for me.” It’s truly only up from here. Her next goal? Global stardom. “I really want to make waves on the international side.” Besides more versatility in her next project, she confirms that the new album includes a “Spanglish-like bachata” song with Prince Royce. “It runs through my blood,” she says. “I’ll always show love to my culture.” She also wants her audience to be left motivated by her new music, and to know that it’s OK to go through rough patches and be able to overcome it. “My album will have you feeling like a boss.”