“Danny D! Danny D!” The gym roars as Wolfgang, Claremont High School’s hip-hop team steps up to perform in the midst of the back to school rally. More and more students seem to join along with the chant. This is not the first pep rally in which this has occurred, and certainly not the first time anyone setting foot on the CHS campus has heard the name.
Consistently sporting eye-catching outfits, makeup, acrylic nails, and striking confidence, Danielle D’Arcangelo is impossible to miss. She seems to have near celebrity-like qualities. But along with these qualities come misconceptions.
According to her family, D’Arcangelo has been dancing for seemingly forever. Growing up half Indian and having been exposed to Bollywood culture, it was the first style of dance she strived to pursue. After competing in Bollywood style dance competitions throughout elementary school, she made the decision to try out for her middle school’s hip hop team. She made the team and pursued hip-hop as her sport. Now, as a junior, she is captain, coach, and choreographer of Wolfgang, in addition to being president of the hip-hop club.
The formation of the name “Queen Danny D” has been increasingly gradual since D’Arcangelo’s freshman year. The nickname “Danny” was initiated by one of her closest friends in middle school, but as her reputation grew, so did her name. Shortly after, “Danny” became “Danny D.”
In an effort to create an Instagram username in her freshman year, the addition of the word “Queen” came from her childhood nickname “rani,” or the meaning of “queen” in the Hindi language. By the end of her freshman year, D’Arcangelo could not set foot campus without groups of people shouting the adopted name as she walked by. It had blown up.
Many would agree that the name Queen Danny D is more than just a persona for D’Arcangelo. To a certain extent, it is a brand. Her distinct personality traits and consistent fashion sense have created an entertaining stigma that people cannot keep their eyes, or conversations, off of.
“My entire school life is pressure. I feel like I can not walk by somebody without them turning their heads. Everything I do, people pay attention to,” D’Arcangelo said. “Even if I don’t know everybody’s name, even though I don’t know who everyone is, it seems like everyone knows who I am. It’s a lot of pressure to not make mistakes, and obviously, I’m going to.”
Outside of what most would consider, being a near high school celebrity has the potential of taking an enormous toll on a person, and most do not have the capacity to handle what D’Arcangelo makes look easy.
On top of all this, such a reputation comes with a “normal” high school experience being compromised. On a daily basis, D’Arcangelo’s full IB schedule and being coach of Wolfgang is near nothing compared to the social pressure that is placed upon living up to the “Queen Danny D” persona.
“There are a lot of people who don’t like me for no reason. It’s a lot of pressure because I have to see people that hate me no reason and I have to be okay with that,” “They’re also a lot of people who like me without evening knowing me,” D’Arcangelo said. “Sometimes, it’s also embarrassing to be in public and have someone just yell my name.”
In the midst of saying this, standing in the middle of campus, a student walks by, waves, and greets her as “Queen Danny D.”
“See? I have never spoken to that girl in my life,” D’Arcangelo said with a laugh.
Despite the pressure, however, D’Arcangelo keeps her head held high. If one thing is for sure, she knows a thing or two about confidence.
“All it is is a mindset game. You are born with one life. I honestly think to be confident you have to accept the life you are born with, your name, your family, your style, and make the best out of it. Focus on the people that truly love you,” D’Arcangelo said. “Another way you can be confident is to find something that you love. Your confidence shouldn’t come from how you look. Your confidence should come from within your hobbies and passions.”
In the future, D’Arcangelo plans on extending her dancing career in addition to pursuing her love of science by going into medicine. But regardless of where life takes her, in the end, she hopes for the “Queen Danny D” brand to become famous on a larger scale, and continues to spread the message of confidence and self-worth internationally.