MOVING AWAY FROM traditional star-making avenues, today social media creates the biggest local celebs. Set up with little more than a phone, gather enough followers and you too can become ‘somebody’. Is it that easy, though? We have an idea it takes far harder graft.
Representing our city’s creative landscape: singer Layla Kardan, artist Ali Murad, footballer Ali Saleh, TV presenter and fashion and beauty star Renee Farah and singer Moh Flow are currently sharing their creative journeys and what the city of Dubai means to them through a campaign set up in conjunction with denim brand Levi’s newest flagship store at The Dubai Mall. Titled WE ARE DXB, the initiative looks to call out all fashion lovers, artists and creatives to unleash their inner artistry at the impressive store and experience innovation and originality come to life.
We caught up with one of the faces, Renee Farah, to find out more and let us in on the BTS aspects of being an influencer perhaps you may not have considered.
What does the typical daily life of a beauty influencer look like?
Actually, in general pretty much like every person’s life. We have our normal ups and downs, some of us have regular jobs and families to look after and rents to pay at the end of the month. The difference is that we are part of the beauty industry and thus get to attend many of the brands’ events regularly and do shoots for local and regional campaigns. As part of our daily lives, we find ourselves also often having to create content to keep our feeds on social media up and running.
How do you think being a social media star in the UAE compares to elsewhere in the world?
In my opinion, this region in general is one of the most thriving markets when it comes to social media, particularly the UAE. We always see celebrities and social media personalities fly from across the globe for the exposure and business opportunities that the region brings. And with the UAE being an anchor for many brands active in the region, it adds a whole other dimension to social media. I truly believe that we owe our success to the many opportunities that we’ve found here in the UAE.
Can you put into words just how much social media changed your life?
Honestly, I remember being one of the very first in the region to get into social media. I have always been a TV anchor professionally, so when social media started to grow, I saw it as an extension to my work on screen. Soon enough, my follower base kept growing and I started to attract more brands, particularly in fashion and beauty. Even though I’d been on Pan Arab TV stations, I felt that I could reach a much wider audience with social media.
You’re your own boss, what advice do you have for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
When I ventured into the world of social media, it was mainly because I wanted to share with people a little bit of what goes on set behind the cameras, as well as some of my personal life and opinions. As SM progressed, this became more of a job to me as well, and in many ways, I was able now to control my destiny in the sense of guiding where I want my career to go. I had more control of what I wanted people to see and discover about me beyond the rigid TV sets. Soon enough, social media became a huge part of who I am and what I do. My advice to everyone wanting to go into social media is to be real, to share what they are passionate about and to always stay true to who they are and what they stand for.
Who are your influences and why?
There are so many amazing ladies who have marked their presence on social media that constantly inspire me with their stories and goals. I am inspired by creators that have managed to totally change and uplift the kind of content that we find nowadays on social media. Sometimes I even feel influenced by normal people sharing their stories, struggles, pains and joys, normalizing the many narratives that every human being goes through in their normal lives and bringing “relatability” to the audience.
How did you get on during the worst of the pandemic?
Needless to say that the pandemic put us through some unusual times and situations. I had my very own share of rough times through it as I live alone and away from my family. However, I took this time to focus on the positives as much as possible, and I came out of it more focused on my health and physical and mental wellbeing. Also, people have noticed that the pandemic was the time when I started creating fun sketches and entertaining content, as I felt that this would bring a smile to the people following me.
How does it feel to be part of Levi’s campaign?
Taking part in the Levi’s campaign has been a dream come true to say the least. We all grew up watching Levi’s iconic ads, so it’s always been an aspiration of mine. The Levi’s brand has become so deeply rooted within our fashion culture that being part of the Levi’s family definitely feels like a milestone.
What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
There will be more campaigns coming along with some of my favorite brands, some really cool content and a plan to go back to TV with a new programme.