Olivia Ponton talks motivation, inspiration and the secret to a viral TikTok

How does it feel to go from everyday teen to TikTok star? "Super motivating and inspiring," gushes 18-year-old Olivia Ponton, whose 4M+ (!) social following grew over the course of just a few months this year. She spills to GL about her unexpected success: "People will come up to me like, 'Oh my gosh, are you Olivia?' It almost makes me cry—I'm so happy that I've had an impact on this many people and they're all behind me and supporting me." 

When Olivia started TikTok, she mostly performed fun dances with her best friend (Her fave audio to dance to right now? "Crisis—it's a super fast dance and I just love it"). But it was her workout vids that catapulted her to viral status: "I did a series with quarantine workouts," she explains. "A lot of people found them super helpful and started requesting [more]." Exercise is a huge part of Olivia's life—her morning workouts, currently "a mix of cardio and HIIT," keep her feeling strong and ready to take on whatever the day brings her. 

Her younger self couldn't have imagined this kind of social media career. "I wanted to be an interior designer [back then]!" Growing up in Florida, Olivia pursued modeling and spent tons of time with friends and family at the beach (Real talk: She's *super* passionate about ocean cleanup and conservation 🌊 .) But she also struggled with acne, anxiety and bullying. 

@iamoliviaponton ♬ follow if u used this sound -

A lot of people in my hometown didn't support my social media [work] at first," she confesses. "I just had to push through and not let it affect me." For girls feeling left out, Olivia advises keeping optimistic and focused on what you want to accomplish. "Words are just words. If you stay in a positive mindset, no one can stop you." 

What's the obvious move for a TikToker? The Hype House, ofc—so this summer, Olivia packed her bags and moved in. "The best part [of Hype House] is being around other content creators who are as motivated as you, and being in a positive environment," Olivia says. "Sometimes, when you're not around the right crowd of people, it gets complicated or draining to work like this. A motivating online space helps." The toughest part of the Hype House? Learning to share her space with over a dozen fellow creators. "I've always had my own space, so it's been an adjustment," she shares. She'd even filmed a TikTok just before our phone conversation (unsurprisingly, "it's a full-body workout video") and has thousands of unpublished TikToks in her drafts: "I like to mess around, dance with my friends, just pure fun. I don't post them all the time." 

Olivia is sweet, genuinely kind and exudes a quieter, softer vibe than you may expect from a social star. She's the kind of girl who keeps it simple: "I stick to just face wash and moisturizer so I don't clog my pores or irritate my skin," she says of her beauty routine, especially since working hard to clear up her acne. One product she *always* takes with her is the Frankie's Bikinis Glow Moisturizer: "It makes your skin look amazing, clear and glowy, like you just came from the beach," she spills. "It's pretty bomb, not gonna lie." But beneath her laid-back exterior, she's full of excitement—"I love pantsuits and blazers, bright-colored ones," she admits when asked about her top style trend. 

You might think the key to Olivia's TikTok fame is simply being herself (and yes, that's part of it). But behind her viral clips is a lot of hard work and social strategy. "Lighting matters a lot," she explains of the app. "I can notice how my videos do, whether they have good or bad lighting. It's a really big thing." Another TikTok tip: Use trending audios. "That'll help you get on the For You page more easily, which eventually boosts your video." For her final piece of advice, she suggests experimenting with fun filters, stickers and bling to make your vids more engaging to watch and to create a consistent aesthetic.

What's up next for Olivia? More modeling (she recently signed with Wilhelmina), standing up against cyberbullying and maybe a move to New York within the year. She loves to watch inspirational and motivating TikTokers—"girls need to be supporting girls and uplifting one another"—while starting to realize that her own account has become that inspiration for girls everywhere.

A final word for GL readers? "I hope everyone has a good day," Olivia says, calm and serene, the kind of person you *know* is living in the moment. "Stay healthy and stay happy." ðŸ’–✨

Find Olivia Ponton on Insta and TikTok

Image Credits: Matt Morgan @mattleephotography.


by Katherine Hammer | 8/27/2020