Grande was born and raised in Boca Raton, Florida. She is of Italian descent, half Sicilian, half Abruzzese. As a child, Grande began performing at Boca Raton’s former Little Palm Theatre for Young People. A few years later, she started to perform in Fort Lauderdale Children's Theater (FLCT). Grande's hair is also naturally brown and curly, but was asked by creator Dan Schnieder to dye her hair magenta because he didn't want a cast of all brunettes. (Because of the shooting schedule, she has to have her hair re-dyed every other week.) She enjoys getting "technically involved" with the TV show, meaning she likes to help and/or watch the producers put together the songs, camera shots, etc. She performs at gigs singing and doing covers of songs, which she has posted on YouTube. Ariana is a huge fan of the popular Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, as stated in an interview for Popstar magazine. She also appeared in the Broadway show 13 the Musical with Elizabeth Gillies, also her co-star in the Nickelodeon series Victorious. Grande is the only member of the main cast who had no prior on-screen acting experience. In 2009 and 2010, Grande performed at Birdland Jazz Club in New York City with Miranda Sings. In 2008, Grande played the role of Charlotte in the musical 13 on Broadway, for which she won a National Youth Theater Association Award. When she joined the musical, Grande left her high school, North Broward Preparatory School, but continued to be enrolled. The school sent materials to her for study with tutors. She played the role of Miriam in the first reading of the forthcoming musical Cuba Libre composed by Desmond Child. Grande teaches music and dance to children in South Africa each year as a member of "Broadway in South Africa."