Berwyn’s Next Gen: Daniela Reyes a Rising Star
Meet Daniela Reyes, a Junior at the Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts)
Daniela’s Bio: Daniela spent her early years in Berwyn, attending Jefferson Elementary School and Lincoln Middle School, trying out for the school talent shows every year since kindergarten. Her love for singing was the driving force that set her on an artistic path. Flash forward to today, Daniela is a junior at the Chicago High School for the Arts (CHSA) in the musical theater department and was named 1 out of 35 recipients of Chicago’s 2018 Rising Star Honor Roll. Her voice teacher, AJ Wester, took notice of Daniela’s talent and skill set and nominated her for the award. Her desire to sing has taken her far in her young life but Daniela doesn’t want to stop there. Vocal training has opened the door to her passion in acting, dance and more. She is passionate about all forms of performance art and draws a great deal of inspiration from Julie Andrews, and just like the great Mary Poppins, Daniela Reyes has plans to become a well-rounded performer on the stage and eventually film.
The support she receives from her mom, dad, and two young brothers, ages 3 and 10 helps to keep her focused and driven. “My family supports me wholeheartedly and just want me to enjoy my life. My little brothers were so proud of me when I had an article written about me in the Chicago Sun-Times and when I won the Rising Star award. The unconditional love and support I get from my family is so empowering.”
What’s your greatest accomplishment (Personal and Academic)
“Last year I got the role of Cosette in Les Misérables, so I would say that was my biggest in-school accomplishment. It was a big deal as a sophomore to land the female lead since my school is a performing arts school and full of other talented singers/actors.
As for an accomplishment outside of school, I would have to say The Rising Star Award because it opens a lot of opportunities for me. One of the reasons why they chose me was because of my speech. It was a 30-second speech about why I’m proud to be a creative youth here in Chicago and who can I recognize and give thanks to. And because they chose me, I get to perform live on WGN Channel 9 News on September 13th. I will be performing Somewhere, from West Side Story.”
If you could collaborate with any person on a personal project, who would that be and why?
“I love Julie Andrews. Trust me I do. If I could I’d love to have dinner with Julie Andrews. But in terms of collaborating, maybe not. In terms of collaboration, I think I’d go with the duo, Rodgers and Hammerstein. They made a lot of musicals in the classical era of musical theater like The Sound of Music, The King and I, Carousel, and Oklahoma! I’m really into classic musicals but I also love and appreciate the more contemporary musicals like Mean Girls -it’s my newest obsession- as well as a bunch of other musicals like Hamilton, Legally Blonde, and Wicked. The contrast between those eras is so interesting to look at and observe. It’s almost like a history lesson on the progression and changes Musical Theatre has gone through throughout the years. It’s exciting!”
Do you have a hidden talent?
“I’m currently writing a play. A 10-minute play. I’m just trying to experiment and branch out into other art forms. I’m trying to find different things to fall back on while exploring a different side of the craft I love. I have a few different ideas for a play but the one I’m currently working on is dedicated to a friend of mine. She’s a person of color, Muslim, Female, and a member of the LGBTQ community. I know each person feels different about their place in society and how society treats them, so I would like to highlight her experience and successes. I believe that theater can shine a light on social issues and social change and do it not only in a way that makes the audience empathize and understand the character’s struggles, but also make people realize that real people go through this. It makes them aware.”
What is your greatest fear?
“I don’t fear the things that are tangible or things like spiders. However, if a spider jumped at me I would definitely scream. What I mean is that my biggest fear is not being happy, whether it’s with myself or with my life. I want to make people proud. To be able to help them, support them, and stand up for them if they need it. How can I do that for others if I can’t even do that for myself? Although I recognize that life isn’t all that and a bag of chips, I want to be able to live feeling satisfied with myself, the life I’m living and for the goals I’m reaching. I don’t want to end up being bitter. I don’t want to end up being a disappointment. That’s my worst fear.”
What’s something you do to get yourself through a rough day?
“I like to write and get my feelings out. I’m starting to journal a lot and it really helps with stress. Another way to de-stress is just talking to people. My mom always asks me how my day was, and if I look particularly stressed, she’ll ask me what happened and force it out of me. But if I didn’t have my mom to ask me, I would just find time to doodle and write. My mental health is just as important as my physical health and it is only correct to treat it as such.”
Who are your greatest influences (Personal or Professional) and why?
“On a personal level, I would have to say, my parents. It’s a team effort, they help each other out so that my brothers and I can do what we love to do. For example, my dad will watch my brothers so my mom can take me to an audition or rehearsals. Then my dad will pick me up when I need him to or when my mom can’t. They’re an inspiration to me because they make time for us. I appreciate them and everything they do.
As for professional influences, Audra McDonald and Julie Andrews for sure. They are such empowering women with amazing voices and equally amazing personalities. Julie Andrews is LITERALLY Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way” And Audra McDonald? She is living the dream. She has such a gorgeous voice and pulls off doing BOTH Musical Theatre and Opera. How many people can say that they did that?”
Check out Daniela Reyes’s Live Performance on WGN Channel 9 New!