The song “When You Wish Upon a Star” is synonymous with Walt Disney and is played in its theme parks and featured in many of its movies. It is a song about dreaming big, and one that fits well for Dara Reneé’s life story.
The Los Angeles, California native is among the stars of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” streaming on Disney+.
“Whenever someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, ‘I want to be like Walt Disney’,” recalled Dara Reneé. “I wanted my hand in radio, TV, and all of those things. I couldn’t be happier right now. My mom always taught me to dream big, and this is a dream come true.”
In season two of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” the East High Wildcats, who are preparing to perform “Beauty and the Beast” as their spring musical, face off against rival school North High to win a prestigious and cutthroat student theater competition. Wigs are snatched, loyalties are tested, and ballads are belted.
Dara Reneé, stars in the series along with Olivia Rodrigo; Joshua Bassett; Matt Cornett; Sofia Wylie; Larry Saperstein; Julia Lester; Frankie Rodriguez; Joe Serafini; Mark St. Cyr; and Kate Reinders. Dara Reneé plays “Kourtney,” the ride-or-die best friend of Nini Salazar-Roberts, portrayed by Rodrigo.
Obsessed with makeup tutorials and feminism, Kourtney starts a new job at “Big Red’s: family-owned pizza shop, ‘Salt Lake Slices’ and lands the role of ‘Mrs. Potts’ in East High’s spring musical of “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Originally, I had to shoot for the Open Call in 2015,” Dara Reneé recalled. “So, I have been chasing after this project for five years. When I auditioned for High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, they had me to audition for every single girl student. And then they came up with Kourtney. I was told the character was going to be in one episode. I thought, ‘That’s cool, I just want to do it.’ And then I get a call, and was asked, ‘Are you ready to pack your bags and come to Salt Lake City?
And I was like ‘Wow! Yes!’” She added, “I am just feeling so blessed. I am so grateful to be in the position that I am in.”
Dara Reneé is set to co-host Disney Channel’s new kids baking competition series “Disney’s Magic Bake-Off,” premiering Friday, August 13, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. She’s also been featured in the Disney Channel Original Movie “Freaky Friday,” has a recurring role on the hit ABC series “black-ish” and a guest starring role on ABC’s “The Kids Are Alright.”
The 16-year-old is deeply connected to Baltimore. Her maternal grandmother was in the Baltimore-based group “The Royalettes,” a quartet of young women who delivered the soulful style of the mid-1960s. Her mother, Kimberly Brooks is an actress, and opened a Performing Arts studio in Baltimore, “Encouraging Youth to Dream,” where Reneé trained and performed in numerous productions including “Annie,” and “Grease,” before returning to Los Angeles, where she currently resides.
Dara Reneé and her mother have worked alongside one another on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” Brooks made a cameo appearance on the show this season as Kourtney’s mother, “Michelle.” “I was so lucky to be in such an entertainment family,” said Dara Reneé, who began her career at age two, appearing in commercials and print ads.
“My grandmother taught me how to sing and harmonize. We would sing in church, or all get together by the piano and sing gospel songs. I am grateful to be able to learn from so many iconic people in my eyes. They have truly changed my life. I learned so much from my grandmother who has passed away, but is still teaching me things from up in the sky in Heaven. I would not be here without her.”
She added, “And to work with my mom who has been my mentor is such an honor. I have been able to work with amazing people and do what I love. The sky’s the limit.”
To learn more about Dara Reneé, you can follow her on Twitter and TikTok: @Dara_Renee and on Instagram: @DaraRenee.