She is young but with a very grown-up following: 10.9 million on Instagram, 12.6 million on TikTok, and 1.19 million subscribers on YouTube. She is a French influencer who became known for her belly dancing videos on musical.ly (now TikTok). Even before turning 20, she has already landed deals with L’Oréal and luxury jewelry company APM Monaco. Her name is Lea Elui, and even though she has been mostly flying under the radar of the mainstream press, there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing her name more and more often. Influencer marketing is blooming, and Gen Z often turns to “authentic” reviews or pieces of advice by influencers when it comes to choosing a product.
Nowadays, influencers are the first ones to receive clothes from new collections and beauty products that are about to hit the shelves. It’s no secret that they are often seated in the front rows of fashion shows. Last week, Lea was invited to her first Balmain show, which she shared on her Instagram, thanking the brand for such an honor. She created a sexy look by wearing a black Balmain blazer and lace pants.
It seems like Lea Elui got inspired by Kim Kardashian, who majorly paved the way to this new era of media personalities. Lea seems to have deliberately recreated one of Kim’s looks from 2017 when the original Instagram queen wore an oversized Comme de Garcons blazer and Balmain floral lace pants.
By taking inspiration from the past, these younger influencers are able to experience all that is new. Sometimes, they even get to play around with the latest tech and platform functions. Let’s take Triller, for instance, a social media network that has 60 million active users. It’s an app for short music videos (sound familiar?)… musicians get to upload their music videos and engage with fans who sing along to their beloved tracks. In 2018, the app added another fascinating functionality which Lea Elui was the first to try, according to VentureBeat. It was a monetization feature that allowed creators “to raise money from fans, brands, and music labels to meet purpose-driven goals such as college funds.”
As Triller’s brand ambassador, Lea Elui was among the first ones to test it and when she told her fans she was raising money for her college, she got $50,000 in just three days!
In an interview with VentureBeat, Lea commented on the good fortune: “It was really fast, so crazy.” She was, of course, both surprised and happy, and she appreciated the connection that she has with people who view her content: “I feel they are having fun with me.”
This influencer’s advice to others is to have fun and not try too hard. “Do what makes you happy,” Lea said. She praised the app itself in the interview, too: “It’s way easier to make content now because the app does the edit work for you. It takes less work. In the future, I’d like to have a career in entertainment. My dream has been to live in the U.S.”
Sally Koslow, the author of a novel titled “Little Pink Slips” (hey, sounds a bit like LittlePinkTop), has been quoted as saying: “Learn to recognize good luck when it’s waving at you, hoping to get your attention.” It sounds like Lea Elui has managed to recognize her good luck, and that luck came in the form of attention!
Addison Rae is about the same age as Lea and she experienced the same type of social media luck and success. Most recently, she lent her voice to the movie “Spy Cat.” Entertainment Access, a YouTube channel, posted the trailer for this animation, which became available digitally in September. One of the comments said: “It’s horrible honestly, the voice doesn’t even match the character it took me a good minute to get she was voicing the cat.” Another comment read: “No offence to any of the actors or creators of this movie but it would be much better if it were a silent film without the voices.”
Even though Addison Rae (who is 19 as well) is an American social media personality and dancer, with no previous experience as an actress, that didn’t bother producers. This shows the power of this new generation of influencers. You see, Addison has a massive following: 62.9 million on TikTok and 28.8 million on Instagram.
Whether or not “Spy Cat” and Addison’s performance are any good is open to interpretation; she already landed another movie deal regardless. According to Variety, Addison Rae Easterling has been cast in the upcoming remake of “She’s All That,” the 1999 American teen romantic comedy film that starred Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook.
So, how did Addison get to be all that?
According to Business Insider, she started posting videos in July 2019 as a fun project, but “by December she decided to go all-in and moved out to Los Angeles from Louisiana.”
In the City of Angels, she became friends with folks from the Hype House, a content creator collective. The sole purpose was to collaborate on viral social media content. These aspiring influencers wanted to hack the system and help promote each other. It led to multiple business opportunities for Addison.
According to Forbes, Addison is a high-earning TikTok star who in 2019 made a staggering $5 million! She got her own makeup line called “Item Beauty,” which is a business partnership with beauty startup Madeby, and she also landed lucrative deals with the apparel company American Eagle and the digital music service Spotify.
In his Forbes article, social media and internet culture editor Abram Brown wrote: “At first, she got the typical deals to do her own branded merchandise and sponsored content from brands like Reebok and watch company Daniel Wellington. Altogether, these two revenue streams accounted for two thirds of her estimated earnings.”
“TikTok is what got me to where I am,” said Addison.
And in her recent Instagram post from Antelope Canyon in Arizona, she wrote: “only up from here.” Addison posed in a blue bikini set while surrounded by surreal, Martian-like rocks.
Everyone is obsessed with this location, just like they are with the Kardashians. Many of Addison’s followers pointed out in comments that “Sis trying so hard to be a kardashian.” The reason is that Kylie took similar bikini pics in the canyon earlier. Well.. you decide for yourself.
Social media made it possible to create and monetize these online “personas” or “brands” by just having a phone (and maybe also the right looks). Big companies and influencers themselves have learned to capitalize on the idea of authenticity. I’m sure we’ll hear more about Lea and Addison as their fandom grows.