Once known as the Queen of Vine, Lele Pons is a force of nature in the digital media field. What started with her success with one platform has since grown, showing that Pons is one the world will keep hearing about for years to come.
In an interview with Forbes, she was asked to describe her big break. “When I was named the #1 most viewed person on Vine, the #1 Female Viner in the world and, simultaneously, Time magazine named me the “Most Influential Teen,'” she said.
And big break it was. Even though now Vine is no more, she is now dominating YouTube, and continues to find new levels of success across the board. At 21 years old, Pons has already published her first book and is a brand ambassador for CoverGirl. But what about those fun facts that aren’t as well known about this star? Let’s take a look at the untold truth of Lele Pons.
She was a victim of bullying
Now a well-known celebrity, Pons was not always the popular girl. Speaking with Teen Vogue, the star described the bullying she experienced in school. “I didn’t have friends,” she said. “I went to high school and I started getting bullied because I was very weird.” So what does Pons mean by weird? “I’m not like the cool girls — I’m the other girl,” she continued. “The one that’s basically a nerd, but proud of that.”
Once she discovered the new-at-the-time social media platform Vine, things changed and she was getting more views each day. She continued, “People from my school were respecting me more and it was really weird. Obviously I don’t really care about that, but I was very happy with it and kept doing what I was doing.”
As a girl she faced challenges with speaking
Originally from Venezuela, Pons moved with her family to the United States when she was 5 years old. Not only was this a big move, but Pons had to do some serious studying and learning in order to adjust to a new life.
She opened up about her struggles with language to Young Hollywood, sharing, “I had a problem, like talking or communicating with people. I was dyslexic. I didn’t know how to read. I didn’t know how to speak in English. I came here in the United States and had to learn how to learn, and then I learned everything else. I was always excluded from a lot of people in the beginning.”
She had other plans for her future before making it big
Even though Pons was just in high school and 15 years old when her Vine fame started, she had already had a plan for her future. Spoiler alert: Vine and Internet fame were not a part of that plan.
As she described to Teen Vogue, “I always wanted to be a singer. I was going to finish school and go to Berkeley and then Vine came out and I felt like I could finally show people my talent. I can even sing in the Vines. It’s honestly changed my life. I don’t know where I would be right now without it.”
Though Pons’ future shifted in a great way, that doesn’t mean she has fully adapted to this new life plan. The fame is still a struggle. She continued, “The thing with me is I honestly don’t believe it’s happening, so I’m super innocent about it. When it comes to people coming and asking if we can take a picture, I’m like ‘Oh my god, yes’… and then I take the picture with my [own] phone.”
She wasn’t always a social media expert
Before Vine was released, Pons was not a pro with social media. In fact, she didn’t know much about that world and the media platforms at that time. While on Hollywood Today Live, Pons said, “No, I didn’t know what social media was. I just started having fun with it, and like, it just took another turn, and a lot of people started liking what I was doing, just being in my house and messing with my parents.”
It was actually a friend who encouraged Pons to discover social media and have a voice on those platforms. The star told Teen Vogue, “My best friend was like, ‘Lele, you better start getting into social media because that’s the next thing.’ I was always the last one on Facebook, Instagram — everything.”
High school included a black eye and pirate costume
Pons has many stories from high school that aren’t the average tale for a student. Just during her second week at school, she made quite the fashion statement, sharing with Young Hollywood, “The theme of the homecoming was Pirates of the Caribbean so… I came in a pirate suit.”
She went on to explain how she got a black eye on her first day of school. “I wanted to play flag football, and I didn’t know that in flag football, you’re supposed to get the flag, you’re not supposed to tackle anyone. So obviously when I tackled this guy, he like pushed me away and when he pushed me away, he hit my eye.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pons used many of her own stories, like these, for her book Surviving High School.
She lived in the ultimate Viner apartment building
It seems only right that top Viners in their time would live in an apartment building on Vine Street. In Hollywood, celebrities known for their Vine fame would reside in an apartment building that housed many others of their kind.
And it turns out, Lele Pons was one of those celebrities. When asked by Perez Hilton just how many Viners lived in her building, she estimated the number to be 20. During the interview in 2015, she also summed up just what it had been like to live with so many other young, social media stars. “There’s drama. There’s like best friends. There’s cliques. There’s everything in that building.”
She’s not about the fame
Pons is the first one to set the record straight when it comes to why she has chosen the career path she has. When asked by Perez Hilton what advice she has for fans who want to be like her and hang out with other celebrities like she does, Pons shared how she felt about fame in general.
“If you want to be like me because you want to hang out with Justin Bieber, that’s something bad because I never did this because I wanted to be famous,” she said. “I did this because I liked what I was doing. To do something for the fame and not like it, at the end you’re going to go crazy. So it’s more about, like, just being yourself, not trying to be me.”
One of her Vines got her in trouble with the cops
Pursuing great content can be risky at times. Pons learned this the hard way. The star shared with Pacific Rim Video that she was once imprisoned after standing on a bridge in Venice, and the police stopped her. She shared, “That was the worst for me.”
Could she at least use this moment for her content? No suck luck for Pons. “They took my phone!” she said.
She sees more acting in her future
Pons continues to to expand her skills and roles. So where can her fans expect to see her next? Perhaps it will be on a movie screen.
She shared with AOL Entertainment her plans for the future and where she sees herself heading. “More into movies and I like YouTube and I still want to do social media, but I also want to go through the more traditional entertainment world,” she said.
She has a major focus on strategy for her content
Even though Vine no longer exists, Pons has moved forward and continues to find success on YouTube and beyond. In 2016, she launched her YouTube page with Shots Studios.
As reported by Billboard in November of 2017, her channel has over 800 million views. The team at Shots Studios determines what is good content and how to maximize the popularity of that content. Pons has been a big believer in their work, sharing with Forbes, “From the beginning, John, Sam and the whole team have always trusted me in every creative decision that I have made…. I love that they give me the freedom to create the content that I want to create, but I also value their ideas and feedback. Their support makes being a part of Shots such an amazing opportunity.”
She’s always finding new ways to incorporate music into her work
Vine gave Pons the recognition she needed in order to continue to create great content across the board. Her love of music has been seen from the beginning of her content and has reached new heights recently.
Pons spoke with Billboard about this love of music, saying, “Music has always been a part of my life…. I’m always listening to it and dancing to it and, even though I don’t record it, I try to find ways to include that in my videos.”
And it’s not just her videos, either. Fans can spot the YouTube star in Camila Cabello’s music video for the song “Havana.”