Despite the “overnight” success enjoyed by many Gen Z influencers in 2022, viral fame is not for everyone. Where highs include growing and connecting with a global audience, and previously inconceivable career opportunities, comes inevitable lows. But Olivia Ponton, with her 7.8 million TikTok and 3.5 million Instagram followers, is taking both the highs and the lows in her stride – trying to be the best version of herself along the way. We caught up with the creator, model and newest ambassador for NUDESTIX to chat about being a role model, the pros and cons of social media and coming out as a member of the LGBTQI+ community – to an audience of over 10 million.
In Naples, Florida, TikTok fame was understandably not on the cards for Olivia growing up. Her heart set on attending Florida International University to pursue interior design and international studies, the now model and creator, explains how the trajectory of her life has shifted in recent years: “Well starting off, I [obviously] didn’t even end up going to college,” she says. “TikTok completely opened my eyes to a new world and helped bring me so many life-changing opportunities.” One of which has been working with NUDESTIX, as an ambassador and investor. “I was immediately drawn to [the brand],” she explains of the partnership – which has included formulating her dream shade, aptly named Sweet Cheeks. “I love the natural glow the cream based formulas give you,” Olivia says – part of the inspiration behind developing her own shade. “Growing up in Florida, I am used to constantly having that post-beach glow. When I moved to New York City I unfortunately lost that in the winter time. So, I wanted to create a product that gave the same effect.”
And while moving from Florida to New York is undoubtedly a big change, so is making that decision based on pursuing a TikTok turned modelling career – a career move that five years ago essentially wasn’t an option. Now at the top of her game, Olivia reflects “I wish I had known how much it was going to affect me. Living in my hometown, I was very sad and thought that my life was nothing more than my hometown. Now, I know how this amazing platform has given me the opportunity to reach across the world to millions of people in different counties and I know that every person has the path that is meant for them,” she says. Part of Olivia’s path, has been coming out as a member of the LGBTQI+ community, while wildly daunting at first it has helped her solidify her connection with her audience and followers, weeding out the negativity in the process. “It was honestly terrifying in the beginning, having so many followers. I was so scared about [everyone’s] opinions…but, thankfully, I received so much love. It was absolutely amazing to finally be able to express who I loved,” she says.
Off the back of her own experience, one she looks at as overwhelmingly positive, her goal is to be a good role model for her largely-female audience. “I feel like when I was younger, I never really had someone in the modelling space that was super real on social media. The girls I looked up to were picture perfect, all the time,” she says. Her goal now – “sometimes it’s okay to show that you’re not picture perfect.” Whether that is encouraging a healthy relationship with food [she credits her personal attitude shift to starting to cook for herself], speaking about her own sexuality or sharing information about the LGBTQI+ community, Olivia explains the biggest learning she wants to pass on to her followers is “that other people’s opinions about you should not matter,” she says. “Growing up, we’re constantly chasing validation from other people when at the end of the day, all you really need to do is love yourself.” But, she is the first to admit it is not an easy journey. “Having [so many] opinions about [me] in [my] comment section definitely used to mess with my mental [health],” she says, but explains now that she has “reached a good place. It doesn’t affect me.”
A naturally positive and bubbly online persona, Olivia explains being a good role model is something that comes naturally to her. “It doesn’t feel like a responsibility,” she says, although she takes it incredibly seriously. Despite the overwhelming nature of having “so many eyes on you at once,” she explains the opportunity to be a role model “[is] something that I’m happy and honoured to be able to [be for people]. With my job I’m able to meet younger girls who have personally told me how I’ve affected their life. Every time it makes me realise the impact [my content] has on others.”
Having worked with brands from American Eagle to Savage x Fenty and Herve Leger, Olivia’s trajectory is clearly on the up and up… and with her still growing audience and infectious positivity, it’s absolutely no surprise.
Shop NUDESTIX x Olivia Ponton from May 18th 2022, exclusively at Sephora Australia online.