On a Thursday morning in early September, Hana Giraldo is live on a streaming platform called Bigo from the dressing room in a downtown Los Angeles loft where she’ll be shooting the cover of Loop Magazine. As a makeup artist dusts a bronzy shadow on her eyelids, Giraldo reacts to the people who are sending her “diamonds.” Having just joined the Singapore-based app in August, she’s already grown to nearly 18,000 fans.
The 26-year-old Malibu-based daughter to music legends Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo has a talent for creating social media audiences, no matter the platform. On Youtube she has 36,000-plus subscribers, on Instagram 778,000 followers, and on TikTok nearly 1.5 million followers.
Related | “Saint Clair Talks Personally DJ’ing For Drake On 2 A.M Chronicles”
“I never really thought of it as my occupation to come up with videos and edit them,” she says. “But my third video went viral [on Instagram], and I hit 500,000, so I had to keep going. I had the traction there. All of these apps they come, they go, so I think it’s about knowing your brand, sticking to your brand, and it’s really crucial to be consistent, and persistent; meaning, you just dont stop posting, just don’t give up, keep going if you want to go viral.”
The word “viral” hits differently today. Social media has, in a way, made the COVID-19 pandemic understandable. Infectious germs are passed between people just like clever videos spread between smartphones. But perhaps a more detrimental epidemic, one nearly as infectious as a worldwide pandemic, is loneliness.
While Giraldo adopts a lot of titles—social media influencer, actor, singer and comedian—at the core of what she does on her platforms is make people feel less alone, through skits on TikTok that make her followers laugh or through Bigo lives that make her viewers feel like they’re in that same downtown LA dressing room with her, just hanging out.
After sitting in the makeup chair, Giraldo straps on a silver minidress and large hoop earrings that are reminiscent of a time when people went to clubs (you know, before every nightlife venue in Los Angeles closed to slow the spread of COVID-19). She tells stories about pre-pandemic nights out, like when she and her boyfriend, Kyle Massey, who starred on Disney Channel’s “Cory in the House,” met Justin Bieber.
“He’s a really good guy, he’s really sweet,” she says. “I think it was Kyle’s birthday, and I remember being in the club, and him just coming in and there were like, 80 security guards. … I just remember I’d never seen so much security. It’s nice too when you meet someone like that and they’re so humble.”
Giraldo prides herself on similar attributes. “Staying humble is my biggest thing because I hate it when people will act like they’re the shit,” she says. “…Growing up with famous parents, I’ve always had a smaller ego because they taught me to be like that.”
Although she was raised in the spotlight—born a decade after her mother released classic hits like “Love Is A Battlefield” and “We Belong”—Giraldo wasn’t immune to things like bullying. When Giraldo was about 9 years old, her family moved from their Malibu home to Hana, Hawaii, an island she was named after, where she was constantly picked on. What she didn’t realize at the time was that the harsh words used by her peers were grooming her for a career in content creation.
Related | “How To Be A Host: Picking Party Themes And Making Intros”
“I don’t ever really dig too deep into the comment section, just because I’ve heard it all,” she says. “You tell me what’s bad about me, I’ve heard it all. It doesn’t really affect me how it would affect another person.”
When Giraldo’s family moved back to Los Angeles three years later, she remembers traveling with her mom on tour and having to find ways to entertain herself. Since this was before the smartphone era, she’d make videos using a Macbook Pro.
“I wouldn’t have anybody to hang out with, or I’d have my babysitters, so I’d have them dress up and I would shoot a video,” she says.
While these early skits weren’t Giraldo’s best work, she says today her highest performing videos are often the ones for which she has the lowest budgets and puts in the least amount of effort. “It’s very strange; it’s like the more you think about it, the more you get in your head,” she explains. “People just like to see what’s authentic, and what’s really going on.”
Authenticity is a word that comes up often with Giraldo as the key to her success, and with the same realness she shares with followers, she left us with a few tips for a night out. We plan on taking her advice as soon as venues reopen.
“I feel like you shouldn’t dress how you think you’re supposed to dress, dress how you would dress, because it comes off really inauthentic,” she says. “Wear comfortable shoes, and don’t take your shoes off either. Back in the day it was really dress-to-impress, but nowadays I’ll dress cute, but I also know what I’m getting myself into. Oh, and always bring eyelash glue. And never drive to the club!”