For actress, model, singer and activist Danielle Alura, being onstage is normal— but often she’s speaking someone else’s words or wearing a fictional character’s clothes. At pageants, and for her causes, she speaks for herself.
The Delaware native has quite a singing voice, and she’s also become a voice for the voiceless, championing causes like the environment and homelessness through pageants. She’s also a lyricist and singer in a rock band, Dani and the Verbals—though she can belt out Italian opera, too.
“Pageantry has given me a megaphone,” says Alura, who’s just finished working with a foundation making care packages for Ukrainian refugees.
With a passion to give back that stems from her own adoption, among her platforms is #NoExcuseForSingleUse, which has helped keep tons of plastic from landfills. By age 14, Alura was volunteering with the Wilmington chapter of Family Promise, a national nonprofit that houses homeless families. Now 33, she’s helped resituate over 300 homeless families and raised more than $5 million since 2016, enough to break ground in May on the construction of transitional housing facility in Tustin, California, that can simultaneously accommodate 15 families.
Born in New York City and raised on Long Island, Alura is the oldest of four siblings adopted into four different families. When Alura was 7, her family moved to Newark, where her parents still live. She graduated from A.I. duPont High School, where she performed in musicals, choir, band, a dance team that performed for Pope Benedict XVI, and track and field, competing in everything but the javelin. “At meets, I was like a Swiss Army knife,” she says.
Alura broke school records and captained the team into door-opening national competitions, a school first. She trained with the guys. “I needed someone in front of me to catch,” she says.
It worked: “It was a huge boost for both teams,” recalls then–A.I. coach Mike Williams, who now coaches at St. Georges Technical High School. “We thought: Let’s break stereotypes. We had a sweatshirt that said, ‘Guys like fast girls.’ The girls came up with it.”
At her final senior track banquet, Alura sang: “She liked to perform, and the track was another stage for her,” Williams says. “She’s always had showmanship no matter what stage she was on.”
At 18, Alura moved to Florida, where she began starring in commercials. “In Delaware, I was just a kid,” she reminisces. “I came with a (New York) accent, and peers always wanted me to say ‘chocolate’ and ‘coffee,’ or ‘call back later’ or ‘got to go walk the dog.’ I thought, Wow, they really like to hear me speak. …They stopped asking me when I lost the accent.”
Florida remains home. It’s where she was crowned Miss Florida Global USA 2022, and competed last month for her last shot at a national pageant title. In a life spent competing, Alura didn’t always wear a crown by day’s end, “but the people I’ve met and the impact I’ve made is better than winning,” she says.
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In expanding her reach, she’s recently condensed her workout routine to five to 10 minutes, and launched a fitness channel, Alura Fit, that airs on YouTube and her website (daniellealura.com). She also hosts virtual micro-workout classes at Big Brothers–Sisters clubs, and has 50,000 online followers. La Croix is a sponsor.
She’s as busy as the bees she keeps, too: She’s a certified beekeeper specializing in Italian honeybees, despite an earlier phobia. She’s made a difference in community hives she’s chosen, even if she’s not a queen and is just a “scout” bee, those who find new homes for hives as she does with Family Promise.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to wake up each day and live it like it’s my last,” she says.
“I plan on changing a lot of lives.”