By: Carie Ziebell By: Carie Ziebell | April 6, 2022 | People
Miami-born media personality, Tefi Pessoa (@hellotefi) has taken the world by storm simply by being professionally herself. As a powerhouse force in the digital space, Pessoa has become a comedy master. With extensive on-air work promoting all things activism, kindness, confidence and mental health, Pessoa continues to make her mark as a multi-hyphenate creator in the ever-growing online community.
Growing up in Miami and raised by her Brazilian father and Colombian mother, Pessoa learned at a young age to have thick skin and put up with what she called the, “Mad max attitude.”
“I always like to say, sometimes I'm watching old school Southern movies like Casablanca and I'm like, that reminds me of being in Miami! Everything has to look a certain way, you have to speak a certain way, you have to run in certain circles, you have to know certain people," she exclaimed.
Miami continues to make lasting impressions on Pessoa in the way she goes about life and makes career moves. However, growing up in the cutthroat social status scene of South Florida never led this media star astray from who she truly was.
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Pessoa explained, “Growing up in Miami and being exposed to these very catty cliques of people and judgments of what a woman should look like, behave like, raise a house like, and work like. Being able to reject that, I feel like that was like my training camp, like Will Smith Men In Black training camp for like the internet. There's nothing you can tell me about what I'm supposed to look like, or what you think about me, that I haven't heard before. Except, even worse, I've heard it in Spanish. And if you think something's mean in English, just wait till you hear it in Spanish.”
As a female media personality with over 1.5 million followers on TikTok, Pessoa is at the forefront of receiving online criticism. However, she has gracefully mastered the art of staying confident. Her carefree attitude has molded the way she goes about life and handles hate online. According to Pessoa, it's all about learning to laugh at yourself, and not take anyone's opinion too seriously. For Pessoa, being vulnerable is what creates a genuine connection with her audience.
“I think sometimes you just have to f— with yourself. Sometimes I'll have a good idea and then I have this pimple mask on, or my clay mask on. You got to look at yourself and say, f—-ing cares. You just have to present yourself as who you are. When it comes to being a woman on the internet, of course, you're exposed to gross commentary, but at the same time, do you really care what Jared in Tennessee thinks?” she said.
Her contagious spark has been flourishing online since she was 15 years old, back in the days of Myspace and Friendster. For Pessoa, she’s always known that she has a voice and personality that could grab people's attention. Her intuition was correct, as she's become one of today's most sought-after, breakout content creators and media personalities.
“I just started posting and I knew that I was funny. So people could say whatever they wanted about me, but at the end of the day, I know I'm funny. You've just got to hold to your identity. If you're going to be on the internet, and if influencers trigger you or if a girl that you went to high school with who’s doing better than you triggers you, then being a creator is going to be a little bit of a rough ride for you. If you're not looking around and trying to connect with people and have conversations with other people who are doing well, then being on the internet is not going to be fun for you," Pessoa explained.
With her vibrantly contagious personality and extensive knowledge of all things Hollywood and pop culture, Pessoa has seamlessly broken through the barrier of internet fame and captured the attention of Hollywood and the larger media.
As a social media personality emerging into more traditional Hollywood roles, Pessoa believes it's all about staying grounded and humble. In today's day and age, the standard cookie-cutter mold for a celebrity is changing rapidly. Pessoa knows that what people are really looking for is someone they can relate to, and someone they could almost see themselves being friends with.
She went on to express, “You need to have a grounding force around you so that you don't go out and you're like, I'm Julia Roberts. No, you're not. You're not Julia Roberts. You are somebody that people like for being relatable and approachable. That's what people want right now. I do think everything comes in cycles. So the mysterious celebrity is definitely coming back. But for right now, people are enjoying what they consider to be authenticity, vulnerability and transparency”.
One of the most influential and grounding forces for Pessoa is her mother because she always reminds her that amid all the craziness it’s best to slow down and take things one step at a time. She takes her mother's mantra, “Life is long," with her everywhere she goes.
Pessoa explained, “I look at my grandparents or look at my mom, my mom is like 30 years older than me and I'm freaking out about things. I look at her life when she was my age and I'm like, you're taking these things so seriously. I love it when she says that because it brings me a lot of peace. There are two POVs of that. One is that things will be this way forever, life is really long. On the other side of it is that there are some decisions that you have to live with, so be careful because life is really long. It’s like a scale.”
As a powerful woman in the media today, Pessoa is now most comfortable being uncomfortable. Out of all of the valuable traits she possesses, her golden ticket to success in her field has been her comfort with herself, having the bravery to be authentic everywhere she goes. “You can’t let people know you until you know yourself. I think as people we are inclined to point out our discomfort before comfort. So what if you're able to express those things and share your journey into why you think the way that you think," she said.
It took a long time for Pessoa to get to the mental place she is in now. As a teen, she struggled to find her inner spark and that confidence that everyone has now grown to love. She went on to say if she could give one piece of advice to her 15-year-old self it would be to simply learn to laugh more. She continued, “I think you're only as old as you are right now. So when you're 15, everything feels detrimental and definitive. Like nothing is ever going to change. When I think about that, I can't help but laugh. You think this is bad? Wait till you cut your own bangs at 19."
Keep an eye out for Pessoa as she continues to embark on her road to stardom. The media powerhouse has plenty of exciting ambitions and future projects that she thinks the public will love. She laughed as she said, “I'm getting more into scripted stuff. I'm hosting a couple of shows with a couple of icons. When I got the call, I was very much like holy shiitake mushrooms. I do see myself expanding. Maybe being on the other side of the carpet.”
Although she will be tackling some new projects and continuing to push herself in uncharted territories, Pessoa made it clear that she will never leave what she loves doing the most, posting authentically on social media.
Photography by: Courtesy Marlo Miller