MILLBURN, NJ - A Millburn High School junior stepped into the spotlight to perform and model at the top echelons of the fashion world at New York Fashion Week. Danielle Benna sang a mix of "Besame Mucho" and "Love on the Brain" as the opening act for designer Adrian Alcea aboard the Intrepid Museum at Pier 86 in Manhattan. Benna donned one of the couture creations for her performance and then strutted the runway in the bold red dress. 

A chance encounter with the designer earlier in the summer as he provided gowns for the Miss Fashion Week model competition that Benna competed as a finalist in the petite division, led to this unique opportunity.  Benna is no newcomer to the stage. She performs with the Limelight Players at Millburn High School participating in the ensemble for 'Drowsy Chaperone", as Diana Morales in "A Chorus Line" as well as "Footloose," "Hamilton Showcase," and  "After School Special."  She has also shared her talents at numerous cabarets in NYC. 

Excelling in such a competitive world, Benna takes her training seriously with private voice lessons at the Paper Mill Playhouse and travels to Manhattan to work with sought-after voice coach Julia Mendelsohn. Benne attends Broadway Dance Center for various types of dance instruction including ballet, jazz and hip-hop and was recently awarded a full year scholarship at New York Performing Arts Academy to continue her training in all three disciplines; acting, voice and dance.

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TAPinto Millburn and Short Hills spoke with this talented teen gaining greater insight into her personal journey and aspirations for the future.

How did you get involved in singing/performing?

I always loved to sing even as a little girl. Throughout the years my love for singing and performing has grown immensely.  Once I became old enough to take things seriously, I really began to go to auditions and do multiple shows and performances. 

Who is your inspiration?

My greatest inspiration is Shakira. Even though people always told her she would never make it in life as a singer because her voice was so different, she did not give up. Now her unique voice has made her one of the most successful artists of today. 

How long have you competed in modeling competitions?

This is my first modeling competition and I am very excited to do many more in the future.  I was also a finalist in the 2017 Miss Teen NJ USA pageant.  

What is the most beneficial part of competing?

The most beneficial part of competing is meeting new people and learning something new from the other participants. Also to be given the opportunity to inspire other girls who share the same dream. 

 What was it like performing and modeling at a prestigious event like New York Fashion Week (NYFW)?

Performing and modeling in NYFW were the most amazing experience of my life. It gave me a taste of how much hard work it takes to prepare for a show.  I had a great time and hopefully will be the first of many shows to come. 

What is your favorite performance piece?

My favorite performance, in general, has been the NYFW show and my favorite piece to perform is the song Skyfall by Adele. 

What are your goals long term?

My long-term roles are to one day work on a Broadway stage or to become a pop/indie singer.