Danielle Rose Russell: 14 Things To Know About The Star

Danielle Rose Russell made her name playing Hope Mikaelson, the orphaned Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted student whose DNA included witches, werewolves and vampires, in The CW's fantasy drama "The Originals." And she made quite the impression, too. Indeed, although she only joined the show in its fifth and final season, the actor was tasked with fronting its equally successful spin-off "Legacies," too.

Of course, there's more to Russell's talents than playing characters with supernatural inter-species bloodlines. The New Jersey native has impressed in everything from the Liam Neeson neo-noir "A Walk Among the Tombstones" and the Cameron Crowe rom-com "Aloha," to Amazon period drama "The Last Tycoon" and eerily prescient sci-fi thriller "Pandemic" since bursting onto the scene in 2014.

But what about her life away from the cameras? Here's a look at 14 things to know about the 2019 Teen Choice Award for Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actress nominee.

Danielle Rose Russell has showbiz blood

Danielle Rose Russell was perhaps always destined to find fame in a supernatural drama. The actor, who in 2018 was cast in the fifth season of The CW's teen hit "The Originals" as part-witch, part-werewolf, part-vampire Hope Mikaelson, was born in New Jersey's Pequannock Township in 1999 on the spookiest day of them all, Halloween!

And Danielle's parents played their part in steering their daughter into showbiz. Father Ricky Russell plied his trade as a vocalist, while mother Rosemary Rado is a dancer whose credits include Broadway productions "The Music Man" and "Can-Can" and New York City's legendary Radio City Rockettes. She also worked at Danielle's Holy Spirit School as its performing arts program's choreographer.

In an interview with Schön, Russell revealed she was glad to have had something of a pushy mother: "Honestly, the only reason I became an actress was because of a bunch of happy accidents. My mom put me in the industry when I was way too young to know what was going on, but from my first day on set, I fell so completely in love with it."

She felt that Legacies deserved another season

The CW left both fans and the cast of "Legacies" reeling in 2022 when it axed the fantasy drama four seasons in. Set in the supernatural Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted, "The Originals" spin-off joined the likes of "Batwoman," "Legends of Tomorrow" and the "Charmed" reboot on the list of shows dumped by the network in what proved to be their most ruthless year.

Danielle Rose Russell, who took center stage as orphaned teen Hope Mikaelson, told TV Guide she had mixed feelings about the show's end, which also essentially called time on "The Vampire Diaries" universe: "I think we all sort of expected to go several more years, so it was an unpleasant surprise to get canceled at this stage. At least one more year, we were all pretty confident we'd go that far. So it didn't feel like the right time, but you know, I've been doing it five years, so I do feel proud of the long run we've had."

The New Jersey native admitted that she ended up in tears once she first read the script for the finale: "And when I watched it, even moreso ... I am proud of those five years, and I'm ready to move on with my career and playing new characters, but at the end of the day, it's really sad. We've built a little family and we've had a successful show and I've loved playing Hope. It's very bittersweet."

Legacies made Danielle Rose Russell the person she is today

Danielle Rose Russell had already appeared in films "A Walk Among the Tombstones," "Aloha," "Pandemic" and "Wonder" and TV period drama "The Last Tycoon" when she bagged the role of supernatural hybrid Hope Mikaelson in "The Originals." But she credits The CW hit and, more significantly, its spinoff "Legacies" for elevating both her career and her life in general.

In a 2022 chat with Observer, the actor couldn't stop gushing about the show which that same year was wrapping up its fourth and final season: "'Legacies' has changed my life for the better, and it's taught me so much. I feel like I grew up on the show, and it made me the person that I am today, and I'm proud of that. I'm forever grateful to the show and to the family that made the show."

Russell also revealed her pride at becoming a show lead at such a young age: she was only 19 when "Legacies" went into production: "As an actor, it made me so much more aware of how hard people work in this industry, and what it takes to be a No. 1 [on a call sheet] ... And seeing what comes with that and responsibilities, it taught me a lot and gave me a lot of appreciation as an actor."

Danielle Rose Russell is a business brainiac

Never let it be said that Danielle Rose Russell is shy of hard work. While fronting The CW's supernatural spin-off "Legacies," the actor also somehow found the time to earn a Business Administration degree at Berkeley College. And once the show ended, she decided to further her education by studying for a master's in the same subject.

When asked by the institution's official website how she managed to balance her commitments, the New Jersey native replied, "The convenience of being able to complete my Bachelor's from my laptop! I would bring my laptop to set almost every day I could and literally work from my chair on set, when I was getting my hair done in the mornings, or during lunch. And, of course, tons of caffeine."

Business Administration might not sound like the most showbiz of courses. But Russell insists that it has several elements which are transferrable to Hollywood: "Learning finance and accounting has been a tremendous help, not only as a functioning adult in society, but also as an actress. As a young female performer, it is crucial to protect myself and understand the business side of the entertainment industry, made much easier through the knowledge I have acquired via my degrees."

Danielle Rose Russell has a 'normal social group'

Danielle Rose Russell might have fronted her own hit TV show, starred alongside everyone from Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson to Julia Roberts and Donald Sutherland and picked up a coveted Teen Choice Award nomination all before the age of 19. But the New Jersey native has still managed to keep her feet on the ground.

Indeed, don't expect Russell to be hitting the town with a star-studded Taylor Swift-esque girl squad any time soon. The actor prides herself on hanging around with what Elizabeth Hurley famously once called "civilians" (via The Guardian), as she told Collider in 2018: "I have a very normal social group that I really feed off of. They ground me. They're super supportive. I haven't had any nightmarish experiences."

Of course, that doesn't mean that her pals always act particularly calm and collected whenever they see Russell's face on a poster, billboard or screen. The actor added, "It's a little weird. My circle of people, they're always sending me pictures and going, 'Oh, my god, you're so cool!'"

Danielle Rose Russell wants to empower women

Having spent five years of her life playing no-nonsense supernatural hybrid Hope Mikaelson in both "The Originals" and its spinoff "Legacies," Danielle Rose Russell knows all about girl power. And she hopes that her stint in "The Vampire Diaries" universe will help its female viewers feel like they can take on the world, too.

Speaking to Schön in 2018, the New Jersey native revealed that even her New Year's resolution had a feminist slant: "I've been meditating on ways to speak to and inspire women from all over. I have a couple things in mind, but what I will say is that my biggest piece of advice is to understand that being a woman makes you unstoppable. Feeling empowered to be a woman is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise."

Russell admitted, however, that she's struggled to sometimes practice what she preaches: "It's been a journey of learning to love every ounce of my individuality and uniqueness, but I am the person I am today because of the challenges and patronizing I have faced throughout my entire career. I feel so incredibly empowered to be a woman, and I won't let anyone take that away from me."

She has a supernatural preference

Danielle Rose Russell had to embody the spirit of a vampire, witch, and werewolf during her five-year spell as hybrid Hope Mikaelson on "The Originals" and "Legacies." But which of the supernatural beings would she prefer to be if that somehow suddenly became an option?

Well, in an interview with Teen Vogue, the Berkeley College graduate revealed that she's more attracted to those averse to garlic, crosses and sunlight: "I would be a vampire. I think there's a real sex appeal to vampires. They're very sexy. There's something about them. But, being a witch has been fun. I get to chant and do spells and pretend I'm really bad ass and I'm pointing to something that's supposed to be exploding and it's like 'Nope!' but it'll look cool."

In fact, before landing her most famous role, Russell was something of a "The Vampire Diaries" obsessive, aligning herself firmly with Team Stefan: "Everyone's going to come for me for that, but I loved them together. And, it was so interesting being in this world after I was such a fan of the show for so long. It was like, 'Wow, this is Klaus, and this is Elijah, and this is Rebecca.' It was really interesting just remember how much of a fangirl I was when I was like 13."

Danielle Rose Russell is a keen baker

Don't be too surprised to see Danielle Rose Russell attempting to get a Paul Hollywood handshake on "The Great British Baking Show" celebrity edition in the near future. For the "Legacies" star likes nothing more than spending time in the kitchen whipping up some sugary goodness.

When asked by Teen Vogue in 2018 to reveal something her fans may not know, Russell replied, "I love to cook. It's one of my favorite things to do, it's one of my other passions. I love to cook, I love to bake. It's like my favorite thing besides acting." And the Teen Choice Award nominee later put her money where mouth is by joining forces with "Once Upon a Time" star Karen David for a baking fundraiser screened live on Instagram.

So what's Russell's speciality? Well, she later told Glitter, "I recently made an apple crumb cake for Christmas, and it might've been my best creation yet. One of my favorite recipes is from 'A Cozy Kitchen,' and it's a brown butter carrot cake that is SO delicious." But the actor also confessed that she's not quite as accomplished when it comes to baking bread, adding, "I've had so many failed attempts."

She plans to work behind the camera

Danielle Rose Russell has already worked with a whole host of esteemed behind-the-scenes names, from director Cameron Crowe on "Aloha" to Oscar-nominated screenwriter Scott Frank on "A Walk Among the Tombstones." And although her resume currently only consists of acting credits, she plans to follow in their footsteps in her future career.

During an interview for Berkeley College, where she studied for both a degree and a masters in Business Administration, Russell was asked whether she saw herself ever working as a producer or filmmaker. She replied, "Yes, absolutely! I had multiple conversations with our showrunner on "Legacies" about directing. I was fortunate enough to have gotten a first-hand education in film by watching and studying from some of the most talented people in the industry."

The New Jersey native had previously told Franoi that she hoped to one day direct an episode of "Legacies," describing her experience on set as "the best school money could buy." Unfortunately, as she explained to her alma mater, the supernatural spin-off was canceled by The CW before she got the chance to work behind the camera.

She's passionate about body positivity

As well as aiming to empower her female fans, Danielle Rose Russell hopes she can help them to gain more acceptance of their shape and size. When asked about what her main passion outside acting is by Glitter in 2021, the "Legacies" star answered "Body positivity."

The New Jersey native explained, "Circling back to a female's presence in the entertainment industry, there's an extremely unattainable standard of how the female body 'should' look when portrayed in film and television. I'm super passionate about making it known that as long as you're happy, healthy, and a good person, societal standards for how you 'should' look or 'should' live your life are utterly useless."

This wasn't the first time that Russell had spoken about her experiences of Hollywood's ridiculous standards. In a chat with Schön! in 2018, she recalled, "I've faced many challenges as a woman in both the industry and this world! Just by trying to embrace my body, I've faced way too much BS for being myself."

Danielle Rose Russell was on board with 'Hosie'

As with most young adult shows, "Legacies" had its fans shipping relationships between certain characters — and giving them a cute portmanteau at the same time. And the pairing that was perhaps the most wished for was the one between Danielle Rose Russell's supernatural hybrid Hope Mikaelson and Kaylee Bryant's fellow Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted student Josie Saltzman.

Luckily, Russell was more than happy for the show's legion of admirers to engage in some cosmic ordering. When asked what she and her co-star think about the concept of 'Hosie' by Collider in 2019, the actor responded, "We're very surprised. We talk about it, all the time. It's funny because Kaylee and I call each other our wives. It's why we started the whole Hosie thing, and it really caught on with people."

The two characters did both admit they once harbored crushes on each other, but that was pretty much the closest they came to making fans' dreams come true. Nevertheless, Russell still felt that "Legacies" had pushed the envelope more than any other "The Vampire Diaries" universe show, telling TV Line, "We're unafraid to be super progressive and very current with our show, and that makes me really proud to be a part of it. Sometimes people compare Hope and Elena, and I'm like, 'They're so beyond different.' And it just shows how 10 years of progression can really shape characters and protagonists."

She found out about her big break through Instagram

Danielle Rose Russell still had no clue whether she really was saying farewell to her part-witch/part-werewolf/part-vampire character Hope Mikaelson for good when "The Originals" ended in 2018. The actor, who'd only joined the cast for its fifth and final season, was initially led to believe that a spin-off was in the works. But The CW bosses kept her and fans of "The Vampire Diaries" universe waiting for confirmation much longer than anticipated.

And even when a decision had been made, Russell had to discover through social media rather than the network itself, as she explained to Collider: "When I signed on to do 'The Originals,' I knew that there was a possibility, at least, but I didn't find out that we were a go until May, and I actually found out through Instagram. I think a lot of people think that because of 'Legacies,' 'The Originals' was the way it was, but I actually did not find out until several months after 'The Originals' ended."

But did the wait prove to be worth it? Well, although Russell found herself under more scrutiny than ever before, the actor admitted she was enjoying her new high profile: "Life is definitely a little crazier ... I had to move and create my life around this now, but I can't complain."

She has suffered at the hands of trolls

One of the pitfalls of becoming a higher-profile showbiz name is the increased prevalence of online trolls. Danielle Rose Russell can certainly vouch for that, having come under attack in the wake of her casting in The CW's vampire drama "The Originals."

Russell, who played student Hope Mikaelson in the supernatural drama and its spin-off "Legacies," found herself being targeted by "fans" who questioned whether she looked the part. But the actor didn't take the abuse lying down, responding in a heartfelt Instagram story (via Just Jared Jr.), "I will rarely address this, but: it's extremely upsetting that people are calling me unworthy, a bad actress, or degrading me because I have curves."

A defiant Russell went on to add, "My petite curves make me [different] from a lot of actresses out there, but I don't like at them as anything less than beautiful. I love that fact that I have a curvier body." The star then described the need to compare her with other famous actors on a purely physical level as incredibly disheartening.

A Bradley Cooper flop was her most rewarding experience

On paper, 2015 romantic comedy "Aloha" should have been a home run. It was directed by Cameron Crowe, had an A-list cast which included Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, and Emma Stone, and was set amid the visually-stunning landscapes of Hawaii. Yet the film bombed with both critics and audiences alike, while accusations of whitewashing only strengthened the backlash.

However, all this negativity didn't taint one of its younger stars' experiences. Danielle Rose Russell, who played McAdams' daughter Grace, has described it as the most rewarding as an actor. In a 2018 interview with Schön!, the New Jersey native said, "I literally learned from the best of the best. [Crowe] didn't realize it, but he helped create a foundation for me as an actress."

And Crowe wasn't the only name that Russell credits with guiding her career. When asked about her role models by Teen Vogue that same year, the star responded, "That's so difficult! I have so many, but I worked with Rachel McAdams in one of my first movies and she's been a huge inspiration to me ever since. I think she's incredibly talented. But, I'm always studying actors and movies. You can never not do your homework."