Lady Gaga reaches out after Scarborough teen writes personal letter
Rachael D'Amore, CP24.com
Published Friday, September 8, 2017 10:29PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 8, 2017 11:11PM EDT
A Scarborough teenager got the attention of Lady Gaga Thursday night with a personal letter she penned to the pop superstar, thanking her for "keeping her strong during hard times."
Seventeen-year-old Dani Arnold was one of more than 19,000 people who packed Toronto’s Air Canada Centre to watch the singer take the stage on her fifth world tour.
As one of the lucky few who scored a VIP ticket package, Arnold was standing in arms reach of the mainstage while Gaga unleashed a snappy set of hits old and new.
Near the end of the show, as the roar of the crowd dimmed after a high-energy performance of “Bad Romance,” Gaga skipped to the front of the stage and reached for a piece of paper Arnold was waving.
The paper – a letter addressed to the self-proclaimed Mother Monster herself – was what Arnold called an attempt to connect with the woman she’s looked up to for many, many years.
“It says, ‘Dear Gaga, my name is Dani and I’m 17 years old. I’ve been a monster since I was 9,’” Gaga read aloud to the crammed stadium.
“I’m writing you because I want to thank you for all the strength you’ve given me to grow into the young woman I am today.”
In the letter, Arnold confesses to the struggles she’s endured over the years -- including bullying, a mother struggling with alcoholism and PTSD – and how Gaga’s music was her saving grace.
“She passed away this past January,” the letter continues. “Gaga, you kept me strong through that hard time. Whenever I was having a hard day or felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown, I would listen to your music and instantly feel better. Even if it wasn’t a permanent solution, you were there. You have inspired me so much over the years in countless ways and given me the courage and confidence to be true to myself and my identity and who I am.”
The note closes with a touching, “I hope this letter gets to you.”
Gaga then climbs down from her stage to Arnold and wraps her in a hug.
The crowd roars before Gaga is lifted back up to perform one of the night’s final songs – ”The Cure” – which she dedicated to Arnold.
Arnold said she never expected that little piece of paper to go so far.
“I was in shock. I was amazed she would do that,” the teen told CTV News Toronto on Friday. “When she came down to give me a hug, she didn’t have her microphone on and she said to me, ‘You’re amazing.’”
Gaga assured her fans a few moments later that the letter wasn’t planted and that the connection she has with her fans is genuine and natural.
“I wrote it because being a fan of hers for so long and following her for so long, I feel like in a way I’ve grown up a lot as a person, growing into the young woman that I am now and so has she,” Arnold said.
“I feel like we’ve both gone through struggles. Maybe some of the things she’s gone through she and I would be able to relate. I felt like maybe if I shared my story with her, maybe we could connect a little bit.”
The multi-Grammy award winner has been in Toronto all week to perform two sold out shows at the Air Canada Centre and promote ‘Gaga: Five Foot Two,’ a Netflix documentary slated to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday.
The film follows the pop star through 2013 and 2016, between the release of her fifth studio album “Artpop” and the most recent “Joanne.”
It’s touted as an ultra-personal look into Gaga’s efforts in her endeavors and the mental and physical struggles that she faces day-to-day.
When asked about Arnold’s letter at a TIFF press conference the next day, Gaga smiled.
She said the “heartwarming moment” is exactly the reason why she makes music.
“I’m saddened, on one hand, to say how many letters like that that I get from kids that are in pain, that are going through difficult life experiences, and yet I’m so grateful that I get to have that very close intimate relationship with them – even on stage where there’s 15,000 or 40,000 people watching,” Gaga said.
“That letter from Dani, that’s exactly why I do what I do. I mean, if I had to put it into one moment it would be the one that you saw last night.”
Gaga, who just last year publicly opened up about her struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, said she was “inspired” by Arnold for being brave enough to share her story.
“Dani’s letter was beautiful and very special. What do I have to say to her? That struggling in a family with addiction, a loss or grief, or mental health issues, anxiety -- these are serious things and it’s really good to reach out and it’s really good to tell your story,” Gaga said.
Watching Gaga’s response for the first time, Arnold smiled too.
“The fact that she would actually remember what I said… It got to her that much,” she said.
“It makes me feel good that she’s actually listening and it’s not just an act. A lot of people say that about her, that she’s sucking up to her fans. (But) this proves to me that this is not true. She really does care about us and she made that apparent to me last night.”
Arnold said she can already feel the positive impact from Gaga’s kind words and that she knows they’ll be long lasting.
“It definitely has changed my life because I think it’s given me more of a positive outlook on life,” she said. “I realize that good things can happen to anybody.”