Elta Danneel Graul was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and was raised in the small town of Eunice in St. Landry Parish. Her father, Edward E. Graul Jr. is a practicing ophthalmologist and her mother, Deborah Graul works as an interior designer. She was named after her great-grandmother. Her first name is Elta, but she goes by her middle name, Danneel, professionally. The name "Danneel" was inspired by Danneel Street in New Orleans.  She moved to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling career.