Ariana is of Italian descent (half Sicilian (Butera family), half Abruzzese (Grande family), Greek descent, and Tunisian or Moroccan descent. Her name was inspired by Princess Oriana from Felix the Cat and the shortened name of an Italian Car manufacturer Ferrari. Grande's parents are Joan Grande and Edward Butera, and she has an older brother, Frankie Grande, who is a performer and producer. When she was 8 years old, she went on a cruise with her family and she sang karaoke when Gloria Estafan (a famous Latin singer) was listening her sing. She told Ariana to follow her dreams, which inspired Ariana to do singing and acting. Ariana then did musicals at her local theater, her first being Annie, before taking music seriously when she was 13.
She appeared and performed in the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade in 2014 and 2015, as well as the 2014 Radio Disney Music Awards. She also performed Zero to Hero on the We Love Disney album. In 2017, she performed a duet version of Beauty and the Beast with John Legend for the 2017 version of the film of the same name. She was mentioned in an episode of Stuck in the Middle and the Bizaardvark episode Chocolate Bananas.