Anything really is possible with the help of the internet, a little luck and a lot of determination.
Ariel Martin, known professionally as "Baby Ariel," has an audience (known as her Babies) of nearly 40 million people across her social media platforms.
With 9 million Instagram followers and 3 million You Tube subscribers, the 18-year old Musical.ly megastar and recording artist is recognized as one of the most influential people on the internet by Time magazine calling her the “Queen of Gen Z.”
She made Forbes’ 2017 list of top entertainment influencers and garnered the Wall Street Journal’s prestigious “Innovator Honor.”
To date, the teen has authored a book, co-written and released five original singles, won two Teen Choice awards and starred in a Nickelodeon television film, and it all started with something as simple as a mobile app known as Musical.ly.
Now rebranded as Tik Tok, this juggernaut app has over 100 million downloads. Simply described, it’s short form mobile video recording with special effects filters, stickers, and music backgrounds. Users lip sync to any uploaded some and are dubbed “a global community of creators showcasing their talents, moments and knowledge.”
Ariel began contributing to the video social network in May 2015. As of 2018, she has over 26 million followers on the app.
“It was summer going into my ninth-grade year of high school. We had a water pipe burst and flood our house so we had to stay with my grandparents. I had just gotten my first iPhone and I downloaded Musical.ly. It was mainly lip syncing back then. I spent hours in my room coming up with facial expressions and hand motions for 15 seconds of a song.”
“One of my videos got featured and I started to gain a following. So I did about four posts a day and it just kept going. At first it was just for fun. I didn’t realize people could do this as a job. I had never followed social media influencers; I was just doing it to do it.”
“But after a few months, a brand reached out to me and wanted to send me free clothes if I would just post a picture of me in them on my Instagram. That was an eye opener for us. This isn’t just for fun. We were having business conversations, talking about how and where I would remote.
"I had to educate myself on what I was getting myself into. I started researching people like Miranda Sings and realized this really could be a job. I never you knew you could make a living just doing social media.”
Once her fan following really began to steamroll, creating a personality website and YouTube channel were the next natural progression and the Baby Ariel persona was created.
One of her most viewed videos on YouTube is an hour-long step by step transformation of Ariel morphing her little brother into a David Bowie-esque character for a high school dance.
"Trying weird candy" has almost 2 million views. "Unboxing kid’s toys," 700K. "Eating Oreos," 1.2M.
Other Vlogs include makeup tutorials, trips to the mall, holiday hijinks and food challenge that has nearly a million views. It’s today’s teen and her friends in her room, gone viral.
The art of social media is a huge entertainment gateway.
Ariel stars in Nickelodeon’s comedy TV film, Bixler High Private Eye where she plays Kenzie Messina, a tenacious high school investigative reporter. The movie premiered in January 2019.
She can be seen in the latest expansion pack of the wildly popular video game, The Sims, where players can catch Baby Ariel around town singing in public spaces.
In October, Ariel released her debut book, Dreaming Out Loud. In it, she opens a window into her world and tells the story behind her social media empire along with anecdotes about the normal ups and down of a typical teen who also happens to be in a constant spotlight.
“Through it all, I’ve learned one important lesson that I want you to learn, too: You gotta be you, babies.” The book was Amazon’s number #1 new release in Teen & Young Adult.
But Ariel’s true love is music.
“I have been singing, writing and playing piano since I was little. I have this platform, so I want to uplift people with my music.” But she knew she had a lot to prove to become a successful singer/songwriter since her start was lip-syncing covers, and the work began. To date she has cowritten and released five singles including the latest pop tune, “I Heart You.”
Billboard magazine, which once featured the lip-syncer on the cover, declared her first song, “Aww” “perfectly encapsulates (Baby A’s) endearing Internet-grown persona.”
She’s the girl next door, a “normal,” deeply feeling, wide-eyed teen. “I cry a ton. I feel like a mess sometimes. I’m just a normal person and this is my job. Why would anyone want to follow what I do?’
But follow they do, and Ariel takes that responsibility seriously. “I want to give them as much happiness and positivity and support as I possibly can. My book is full of stories of when I was heartbroken and angry, not confident in myself. If I had to go through that I want to take what I learned and give it to my community to help them.”
“Being a social media influencer is the coolest thing, but it really is also work. I post something every day, even when I’m in bed not doing anything. I try to be honest and truthful and show them who I really am because that’s what they deserve.”
And handling the trolls? “I have learned to ignore them. I focus on the positive comments and real people. No matter what or who you are, they are going to be there. They aren’t happy with themselves. I can’t understand it.”
Her anti-bullying #ArielMovement was recently recognized by People for her positive impact to end trolling and internet negativity.
Her favorite people to follow are artists and personalities who are “just doing them, creating for the sake of creating because they love it.”
“I don’t want to be labelled as an actress because I was in a movie, or an influencer because I was on social media. I just want to uplift and inspire.”