|Naomi Neo is approached by a fan for a photo|
In the ten minutes it took us to walk to and settle in at Starbucks, Naomi Neo is stopped by three giggly secondary school girls and two starry-eyed young boys, all requesting for their photo to be taken with the celebrity blogger from Singapore. Even the barista who served us at Starbucks recognises the 17-year-old in an instant and (not so subtly) alerts his colleagues of her presence.
Naomi Neo is undoubtedly Singapore's most popular and highly regarded blogger/social influencer under 18. I spend an afternoon with her chatting about everything from her love life to her parents. This first installment of my interview with Naomi reveals insights into the young social media celebrity's thoughts on fame, haters, and what keeps her going.
|Naomi poses with a fan at a Topshop Styling event|
Crystal: How do you feel about the girl who just came up to you to ask for a photo?
Naomi: Sometimes there comes a point where I think... things are too good to be true... I wonder if I really deserve such things? No. I guess it partially concerns my own self-esteem and confidence, how much I think I deserve such things like that. To be honest, when I hang out with other bloggers I feel a lot of them deserve what I'm having now, and not me. But I am happy, and my fans really motivate me to continue blogging and do what I'm doing cos there were a lot of times when I wanted to give up.
Crystal: You wanted to give up?
Naomi: Sometimes I feel stressed. There are a lot of people wanting to bring me down but I got over that phase and it doesn't really bother me now.
Crystal: How do these fans approach you for a photo?
Naomi: Some people will discuss whether it's really me, in one corner... then in five seconds, they will approach me and ask, "Are you Naomi? Can I have a picture?" I feel that taking a photo with them is a way to show appreciation. I don't want others to feel like I'm too cocky, so I do it to make them feel that I appreciate what them.
Crystal: Have there been instances where people were trying to be funny?
Naomi: Yes! The most recent once was this group of 'self-proclaimed reporters' who appear for every single event that I participate in, so coincidentally? They keep asking to take photos of me, but they are not fans... they keep asking for more and more photos, and the weird thing is wanting me to take the photos solo...
|Naomi's Tweets and Instagram posts regularly go viral on both platforms, receiving a surge of likes, favourites, and ReTweets within the first couple of hours.|
Crystal: How did all this begin?
Naomi: I started blogging when I was 13. It started off as this 'thing' – it was cool to have a blog. Everyone wanted a blog to rant and write about stuff they did that day. But I got serious in secondary three... 2010-2011, when I was 15...
Crystal: What do you mean by 'serious'?
Naomi: I started to receive high views and I started to blog more on things that I wanted to share... I had a message that I want to send out to readers. My first hit post was on mothers, on Mothers' Day. It was because of this friend that I had who was really disrespectful to his mom, so because of him I was motivated to write this blog post... it was kind of like a message to my mom. It's my 'hit post' that people started reading, it's because of this post that I wanted to blog like that...
Crystal: How did you get so wildly popular on the internet?
Naomi: A lot of people think that this thing happened over night but actually it isn't. In primary school I already received a lot of attention because I was kinda notorious... I wanted to be the bad kid, trying to do things that people don't do... I was really wild when I was younger... Because of that the younger ones admired me, they thought I was cool... I toned down, but they continued to talk about me.
When I was 14, I was mentioned on this forum online, people started talking about me... I don't know why. I received a lot of Facebook friend requests and on that day my account was full... 5,000 friends. So i started a second account.
I used to take a lot of self shots, and I received likes. People started talking about me because I had a lot more likes than people usually have... on New Years Eve in 2012, one of my pictures hit 3k likes, and because of that picture everyone started talking about me on Twitter... I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but because of that I trended on Twitter, and everything started 'happening'... it was quite gradual...
|Naomi co-creates an Instagram post with a fan at a Topshop Styling event|
Crystal: Were you overwhelmed by haters?
Naomi: Once I felt so afraid that I didn't want to step out of my house, I thought everyone was judging me because people will look at me... you think that they don't know you but in the next minute they say something about you online... people will always be judging you... it was only at the end of last year did I felt much better about everything...
Crystal: What would they do?
Naomi: They say really mean stuff and even with the slightest things, they will want to pick on you... for instance, I had tickets to the One Direction movie premier from a friend. I was not a fan but I had a bestfriend who is a fan so I brought her... But this group of girls started talking about me online, hating on me, they were like "Slut go away don't touch my One Direction"... I was like oh my gosh, why? It's not just this incident, there were many times when this has happened. I feel like whatever I do there will be people who pick on me. One hater's Twitter bio even read "I love ice cream, I love chocolate, and I love hating on Naomi Neo", and I don't know her at all... I think a lot of people who hated me got a lot of hype from that, got famous for hating on me...
Crystal: But you're still in the business?
Naomi: I didn't think that I would go this far. I thought it was something that I did for fun, but Gushcloud approached me [to sign on as a blogger], and because of this I decided to take blogging more seriously. I felt stressed when I was having my 'O' levels and blogging as well, I wanted to let go of my blogging, but I have already come this far and worked so hard so I won't give up.
|Naomi and I|
To be continued
Crystal: Any upsides?
Naomi: Recently I started dancing again and I felt more confident. You have to learn to shut all those [negative] things out and think positively... one thing that I'm really thankful for is... you know how sometimes you feel you have no one? But when you Tweet something when you are upset, there will be a huge group of people who are like, "Are you okay?" Those people make me feel wanted and like I belong somewhere... Even though I don't know them...
Check back soon for the next installment of my interview with Naomi!
All pictures are the property of Crystal Abidin, the owner and author of this blog.