You wouldn’t realize it to see Gabby B in her empowered component.
The South Florida resident, born Gabriela Bueno, seems each bit the social media sensation she’s develop into for her polished pop music movies on YouTube and her playful quick takes on TikTok that benefit from her supple dance rhythms and curvaceous Brazilian magnificence. Over the previous two years, movies for 4 of her singles—two high-energy collaborations (“Fairly Lady Lit” with Justina Valentine and “Earthquake” with Mikaila Murphy) and two solo efforts (“Stomach Dancer” and the soulful “One Too Many,” launched in March)—all have eclipsed 1 million views.
In the meantime, her widespread TikTok web page (gabbyb_music)—which exploded amid COVID-19 due to a single video that captured Gabby at her hip-shaking finest—now has 3.7 million followers and greater than 45.1 million general likes.
It’s the type of success as a singer and dancer that the 23-year-old dreamed about as a teen. In these days, although, the desires had been as a lot about escaping as they had been about realizing her potential.
An solely baby to folks who know all about being within the highlight—her mom, Michelle Honnie, delighted audiences as a Samba dancer and singer; her father, Mestre Leitao, has gained worldwide renown as a Brazilian martial arts grasp within the self-discipline of capoeira (which mixes dance, acrobatics and spirituality)—Gabby grew up on the transfer.
Her household left Brazil when she was 3, settling in Avignon, within the southeastern Provence area of France. Seven years later, they moved to North America, the place Gabby spent center college and ninth grade shuffling between Massachusetts and Canada. The household lastly settled in South Florida; Gabby spent two years at Broward County excessive colleges earlier than ending her senior yr at dwelling.
What occurred throughout her conventional classroom years speaks to her present function as official ambassador for Boo2Bullying, a youth improvement and suicide prevention nonprofit that provides sources and assist for many who’ve struggled with bullying and discrimination.
Gabby (who simply launched her newest single and music video, “Leche”) opens up in regards to the incidents that formed her childhood—however that finally led to the impressed instance she’s setting for followers of all ages. (For information about new music, pop-up occasions and membership appearances in South Florida, go to gabbybmusic.com.)
You’ve been candid in regards to the bullying you skilled as a teen. What sort of affect did these incidents have on you rising up?
I began having an imaginary good friend once I was younger. Her title was Diana. And I began spending much more time with my Barbies. That’s the place my obsession started. I’ve over 300 Barbies in my room proper now, plus the Dream Home. For me, it was a method to fight the loneliness [and pain] from the bullying. Barbies made me really feel comfy. That was my protected house.
After we lived in France, the bullying was extra bodily. Children would act like your good friend, after which they’d push you down or spit on you. One child bullied me on a regular basis at recess. He’d kick me and pull my hair. It wasn’t simply me, although. Different youngsters had been getting bullied at that faculty. However the lecturers wouldn’t do something. One lady dug [her nails into Gabby’s hands] and it left me bleeding. I confirmed the instructor, however the lady stated I began it by pushing her. So, we each received in bother.
I used to be one of many solely Brazilian women, however [in retrospect] I don’t know if it was about that. Like, there have been numerous youngsters at that faculty from the Center East. I do know my mother and father suffered with me. So, we moved to Massachusetts.
What sort of bullying did you encounter there?
That was racism. It was shocking as a result of there have been numerous Hispanic individuals there, together with different Brazilians. However the widespread youngsters had been the thin blonde women with blue eyes, the soccer gamers. I wasn’t the one brown lady at my college, however there was this discrimination towards foreigners. Even the lecturers would make me really feel dumb as a result of I didn’t know the language very effectively. I had this French type of accent once I spoke English, and folks at school would snort at me.
I did have a good friend, this cute white lady, and he or she had been good to me. However she had this different good friend who had a birthday celebration. My good friend invited me to the occasion. I used to be 12. After I received to the occasion, the opposite women had been all white. They usually stored gazing me. It was bizarre. And it made me really feel awkward.
At one level, the birthday lady went to speak privately to her mother and father. The mother and father got here as much as me and stated that they’d should drive me dwelling.
They kicked me out of the birthday celebration.
My good friend did supply to go away with me, however I advised her to remain. I used to be so upset. I’ve by no means cried a lot.
These are such early life for a younger lady. What was this doing to your shallowness?
[Tears begin streaming down Gabby’s face, and her voice cracks as she speaks.]
I began disliking my very own pores and skin. I didn’t like my hair. For the longest time, I wished to be blonde. I didn’t like myself or the way in which I regarded. I wished to be white, so badly.
It wasn’t till a lot later, as my music profession began to [blossom], that I started accepting my pores and skin as it’s. I’d even keep away from the solar as a result of I tan so simply.
Did music play a task in serving to you survive these years?
Music all the time helped. After I listened to Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, I felt higher.
At any time when I watched artists on TV, I’d think about what it will be wish to sing and dance on stage. I all the time dreamed about it. A part of it was the concept of proving all these youngsters flawed—I may be cool!
I might envision all of them being within the fitness center, at some meeting—and me performing these songs that I’d grown up on.
However I all the time felt a bit just like the ugly duckling. I did exit for college performs, however I by no means received the primary roles. The gorgeous blonde lady could be the lead character—and I’d be solid because the tree.
Lastly, in highschool after we moved to South Florida, I had an opportunity to play Fiona in a musical manufacturing of Shrek. However I declined. … That’s an entire different story that speaks to a track I wrote—“Misplaced with You”—a couple of boy, my past love, who managed every thing that I did. He didn’t need me to be a dancer or a singer. He didn’t need me to do something. The explanation was that he wished to be a pastor. He was spiritual to the purpose the place if God advised him to leap off a bridge, he would possibly do it. So, each time I wore one thing tight, one thing that felt proper to me, he would make me really feel unhealthy.
Did that have affect your emotions about relationships?
Proper now, I don’t need something to do with a boyfriend. I haven’t wished that in years. … I’ve simply been targeted on my music. My songs have been extra of an anti-love sort of factor.
When did you start taking steps towards a profession in music?
It began with attempting to develop my social media. Danny Adelstein, who’s my supervisor now, was my finest good friend earlier than any of this. He’d assist me with Instagram. I didn’t know the place it will lead. Music is so arduous to interrupt into. I believed extra in regards to the actress facet of it—performing in musicals, the place I might sing and dance and be another person. I used to try this on a day-to-day foundation as an escape. I’d go to high school and secretly faux to be a vampire. I used to be a weirdo.
Throughout my senior yr, Danny’s dad [Mitch Adelstein], who’s my godfather now, heard me sing. He’s the one who made it doable for me to begin in music, and I’m so grateful for him. I used to be simply singing for enjoyable, however he was impressed. Out of nowhere, he provided to spend money on my profession. [Note: Adelstein is the owner of the Chicago Sports Spectacular, the Midwest’s largest sports collectibles show. He ultimately started a music label for Gabby, Muy Bueno.]
We began doing cowl songs, pop songs, in English, Portuguese and French for social media. Then we went to Atlanta, the place I recorded my first track. I didn’t write it. I had songs in my diary, however I wasn’t prepared for that but. We did three songs and made movies for all three. Proper now, I’m hating my first track—which was “Underneath My Pores and skin”—as a result of it’s too bubbly. It’s me as an individual, nevertheless it’s not me in my music. I’m extra aggressive as a performer.
However you didn’t go viral as a singer. Your large push got here from a dance video, proper?
We had been doing severe music but additionally posting foolish movies with [other artists’] viral track sounds. I posted a type of movies the day after every thing shut down [due to COVID-19]. I had filmed it in Chicago. It’s simply me dancing, the way in which individuals dance in Brazil. It’s like stomach dancing however extra aggressive.
However individuals thought I used to be a stomach dancer. It blew up first in India. A few of the individuals there really thought I used to be Indian. In a single day, I went from 10,000 followers on TikTok to 100,000. That video now has over [41.2] million views.
Due to that, I grew to become an expert stomach dancer [in the sense that] file labels in different nations would pay me to belly-dance to their artist’s songs. They wished my viewers. I used to try this lots.
Later, when my followers heard me sing, they began having fun with that too. Finally, I did a track referred to as “Stomach Dancer.” I studied the stomach dance tradition, discovered extra about it and labored with a instructor earlier than recording the track and video.
Out of the blue, I’m this social media influencer—and it began due to stomach dancing.
How does the eye you obtain now—as a gifted, empowered, lovely lady—resonate with you given every thing you’ve been via?
I used to be a blonde to start with of my profession, nonetheless attempting to be white. However since round age 19, I slowly began getting again to my pure hair. After which I ended straightening it and began leaving it curly. Now, I even get my Brazilian tan as a result of it’s a well-known factor to have that tan line. I’d by no means do this earlier than. However I don’t care now.
I believe it’s due to the way in which my profession has gone—and largely due to my followers.
There’s this app referred to as Likee for youthful youngsters. I’ve about 700,000 followers, and lots of of them are little women, some as younger as 5. I hear the tales from them. “This child in school referred to as me silly and ugly. However I like you Gabby, you encourage me.”
Now that I’ve shared my story, youngsters are asking me for assist. It’s optimistic for them to see that there’s one other individual on the market who’s gone via the identical issues. They’re not alone.
Social media remains to be a bully platform, and it may be brutal. The extra widespread you might be, the extra hate you get. However, oddly, it’s made me even stronger. I’ve gone via method worse in actual life. The entire [support and positive feedback she’s received from fans] has helped me with my very own insecurities. They offer me a lot confidence.