The digital celebrities that emerged with the pandemic in Mexico



Before the pandemic, Herlanlly made a living fixing nails; he is now a digital celebrity. Like this Mexican, other “millennials” became “influencers” or took off with their businesses in the midst of a crisis thanks to social networks.

They are part of a generation closely linked to the internet and with difficulties to enter the world of work. And although the epidemic could have aggravated everything, it was the opportunity for them to take a leap by speaking publicly about machismo, plants or selling exotic cakes.

Herlanlly Rodríguez, 23, went from being an acrylic nail manicurist to winning a nomination for the MTV channel’s MIAW 2021 awards, which celebrate the creation of social media content and the most influential personalities in music.

Former psychology student, she was unemployed by the epidemic, but the confinement prompted her to record videos on TikTok to denounce machismo.

“At first I just wanted to distract myself,” says Rodríguez, known as Herly on digital platforms. On TikTok alone, he has 1.2 million followers.

Suddenly thousands of people began to interact with her thanks to the interpretation of her character ‘Tomás, el incredulo’, with which she also exposes homophobia and gender violence in Mexico.

“In social networks it is rare to see women imitating men,” says the pink-haired young woman, clarifying that she does not seek to offend but to show “behaviors that harm society.”

Now the videos of this digital native add millions of reproductions also on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, where fans enjoy their sarcasm.

The economic crisis derived from covid-19 has hit women the most in Mexico. Of the 2.1 million jobs that have not been recovered, 1.5 million were occupied by them, according to official figures.

“I was at a sad point because there was no work. People really picked me up,” acknowledges Herly.

– Blooming on Twitter –

Armando Maravilla had 200 followers on Twitter before the pandemic, but after a thread about indoor plants, he earned more than 97,000 in one year, including actor Gael García Bernal, ministers and politicians.

Known as The Lord of the Plants, this landscape architect shares his knowledge there so that people take care of them as therapy against the emotional impact of the crisis.

“I felt that it was necessary for someone to talk about having green spaces at home, we had been locked up for two months and we needed a shelter,” says Maravilla, 30.

Director of urban landscaping at a private firm, he acquired his first plants as a university student – some succulents – but “they died.”

“My grandmother scolded me! Now it’s curious that people ask me for advice, and the one who asks me the most how I’m doing is my grandmother,” he says.

– Sweet Instagram –

Andrea and David -a couple of South American artists- managed to alleviate bankruptcy and leisure during the quarantine with a pastry project that has almost 38,000 followers on Instagram, where they offer cakes with vintage decorations and addictive mixes.

The pandemic left them stranded and penniless 15 months ago when they were pursuing an artistic residency in Mexico City. Like many, they tried to calm the anxiety of isolation by cooking.

“We began to share it with friends, people began to see it and they asked us to sell it to them,” says David Ayala, a 38-year-old curator of Colombian art.

His girlfriend, Andrea Ferrero, a 30-year-old Peruvian sculptor, remembers that they started the business with a small toaster oven in their apartment in the Roma neighborhood.

“There were barely enough room for two cookies!” He remembers with a laugh as he decorates the surface of a cake.

Dragged down by the pandemic, Latin America’s GDP decreased 7.7% in 2020, with a strong impact on employment, with culture being one of the worst hit sectors, according to ECLAC.

But sales have grown so much that these artists now have eleven collaborators who prepare 500 weekly orders of cakes, cookies and tarts.

The couple recently moved into a new kitchen-studio and plan to open their own store.

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