Be Yourself: An Interview With Hana Giraldo
"I like places where I can actually have a conversation and connect with people"
Her fans know they can count on her for support. She almost always answers her direct messages on Instagram and she is a fierce anti-bullying activist.
Hana Giraldo, daughter of pop queen Pat Benatar and songwriter and guitarist Neil Giraldo, is not to be trifled with. A victim of bullying herself, this fashion forward social media star says, “I thank God every day for putting me through that. Now I have the thickest skin in America! Just try to stop me…There’s not one thing that someone could say to me that would make me give up.” Hana began her social media career by styling Vine stars when she unknowingly moved into the Vine house on Hollywood and Vine in West Hollywood. Soon after, Hana was asked to be in these influencers’ videos and it’s been up, up, up since then, with currently over 500,000 followers on Instagram.
What was it like growing up with Pat Benatar as your mother?
HG: I guess my upbringing was different from the way most kids grow up. I learned the business very young. I traveled a lot. It was a blessing but it was normal for me. I didn’t know anything other than going to your mom’s shows every day or living on a tour bus.
How did you get your start as a social media influencer?
HG: I was originally interested in fashion. I made designer custom t-shirts. You know, ripped up band t-shirts. I moved form Calabasas to Hollywood and into 1600 Vine on Hollywood and Vine. It was basically the vine house. I realized they were making a living off of the videos they were creating. I had no idea who these big influencers were and I didn’t know very much about social media but I did know about fashion. I started styling people like Lele Pons, Inanna Starkis, Hannah Stocking, and Ray Diaz. Eventually I was asked to be in a video and it turned out I was actually very good at it. I had basically been making videos my whole life. When I was on tour with my mom, I had nothing to do but make these comedy videos. The third video I was in went viral. I went from 0 to 99,000 followers in two days just from Worldstar Hip Hop posting my video. People started noticing my growth and recognizing that. I started collaborating with Lele Pons and people with millions of follows. I grew from 0 to 500k followers.
In one of your videos, I heard you say that you were more of an introvert growing up.
HG: I grew up in Malibu until the fifth grade when we moved to Maui, Hawaii. I was badly bullied there. I didn’t want to make things harder on my family so I just didn’t say anything and I just stuck it out. I was always super nice, super happy, loved life. But I was badly bullied and I was alone. I always wanted to hide in my room. Being bullied takes a lot out of you. I internalized a lot. Before I was bullied, I was very outgoing. I really did have a positive mindset. I thank god everything day for putting me through that… now I have the thickest skin in America! Just try to stop me.
You traveled a lot growing up. Do you still travel quite a bit? Where do you like to go? Anywhere you haven’t been that you would like to visit?
HG: I’ve been everywhere, except for Africa, Tokyo and Dubai. I want to go to Dubai. I love New York, Paris, Italy… I love the Cayman Islands and anywhere tropical. But I know the ambassador of the Cayman Islands so when I go there I’m with like Cayman Island royalty! On my 21st birthday, I got driven home from a Lil John concert by the ambassador of the Cayman Islands…Yeah my life’s a movie!
Does nightlife play a big roll in how you socialize?
HG: I’m very selective with who I choose to let in my life at this point. I started going out at a young age. I would go out with my sister when I was 16 or 18 years old. I went out to clubs so young. I still go out occasionally. Although, I don’t drink so it’s not fun being around really drunk people when you’re not drunk. The reason I go out is to network. I know all of the clubs in Los Angeles and all of the club owners. I am definitely involved in the nightlife scene.
What are your favorite clubs to go to?
HG: I love Delilah. I like Good Times at Davey Waynes. I like places where I can actually have a conversation and connect with people without screaming to get people’s attention over techno music. Growing up with famous parents I was always backstage so in crowded places, I am a little uncomfortable.
How does fashion play a role in your life?
HG: Fashion for me is everything. I can make something super cheap look expensive by accessorizing it correctly or putting it with the right jacket. I like to mix high-end brands with fast fashion. I love Balenciaga, Gucci, YSL, House of CB for a cheaper brand, but vintage is my shit. I don’t want to be seen in the same outfit as someone else. I would rather go to a vintage store and find something cool that is older. I make half of the stuff I wear. I will get vintage stuff and transform it into my own thing. My favorite store is Wasteland.
How would your fans describe you? What do you think they like about you?
HG: They would probably describe me as humble. I like to keep my fans in the loop. I never forget about them. I make it a big part of my journey to include them. The interaction between my fans and me has brought me where I am today. They would say I’m genuine, funny, fashionable, loyal, and a little crazy. My thoughts on genuineness are simply that it’s one thing to act like you’re the most successful person in the world. But in reality, the most successful person doesn’t have to act like the most successful person in the world.
So many young girls idolize Instagram stars and I just want my fans to realize that I’m not perfect. I don’t look like I do in my professional photo shoots all the time. I want people to go embrace who they are. First, find out who you are and work with it. I will never look like a Victoria’s Secret model. I’m not 5’10” but I’m okay with it because I’m me. With Facetune and all these crazy apps, kids are looking at this and thinking other people are perfect. It’s not healthy.
Would you say you have a close group of friends in LA? Tell me about them. Do you guys like to create together? Who are some of your best friends?
HG: I grew up with famous parents so I’ve always known the warning signs for fake friends. Gabriella and Kyle are my best friends. I have a select group of about five people who I would go to in times of trouble. In this industry, everyone just wants something from you. So, if you find genuine friendship, you have to hang on to that. My friend Gaby and I are crazy. We gave each other our first tattoos when we were 14 years old with guitar strings and an electric toothbrush… and a pencil, eraser, and some duct tape. We went to Michaels and got some ink and made a homemade tattoo gun. My parents are all tatted up but they wouldn’t let us get tattoos. Mine’s a cross. It’s still there. My mom knew I wanted a tattoo. She told my babysitter to keep an eye on us. I was 14 so I wasn’t allowed to walk around by myself. My babysitter was watching us. We bruised a little bit and when my babysitter saw, she said, “You’re not puncturing your skin, right? Because your mom said you can’t do that.” I was like, “No no no…It just looks bad…”
Did you have a good time being featured in your boyfriend, Kyle Massey’s, new video?
HG: Oh, fuck yeah. I loved it. It was a lot of fun. I love the song. Maybe we will collaborate on writing. I have been working on a lot of music content lately. I’ve been working on some features with big people. I am releasing a song with Kyle and a video. It’s the first rap song I’ve ever recorded. It’s Bad Bitch.
You are an advocate for victims of bullying. What are some of the things you are doing to help awareness of this issue? I think a lot of people think bullying is just something that happens to children. Do you think adults can be bullied?
HG: Absolutely. Now with Instagram and the Internet, it’s a whole other beast. It can happen to anyone. I went through a traumatizing bullying experience and had all these targets on me on this tiny island. Now I feel like I can help people. Fans will reach out to me and I will respond and that will make their day. My ultimate goal is to spread awareness. This issue is often swept under the rug. Bullying kills people and it needs to be stopped. I’ve been making videos about it lately.
Is there anything you’d like to tell your followers?
HG: Follow your dreams. Don’t let people stop you. Be positive and be whomever you want, you can achieve if you believe in yourself and your work enough. I’m always here. I answer DMs! There’s not one thing that someone could say to me that would make me give up.