This 17-year-old has 25 million followers on an app you've never heard of

Elena Sheppard
Wellness Editor
(Photo by Paige Kindlick; Artwork by Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)

Baby Ariel, as she’s known by her millions of fans, found fame at the age of 15 via a popular lip-syncing app called Now 17, the Florida native is using her 25 million followers as a jumping-off point and setting her sights on a more traditional route of pop music stardom. While she’s chosen a field filled with others who have the same dream, if there’s one thing this social media personality understands, it is how to make herself stand out and her generation pay attention. If her previous success is any indicator, the sky is the limit — and 25 million followers will soon be a number in the rearview mirror.

Name: Ariel Martin aka Baby Ariel 

Age: 17

Favorite app: I can’t say I have a “favorite.” They all allow me to express different sides of me and interact in different ways. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for because of how it really was the place where I found my creative voice and it helped give me a platform for everything that’s come since. But I also appreciate what I’m able to do on other platforms.

What she does: In most ways, I really am just a regular teenage girl. I watch movies, listen to songs, read books, and have fun with friends. But I recognize that my life in so many other ways is different because of my experience in social media and the entertainment business. So in that regard, I just try to be myself, express my thoughts, have fun, and put a smile on people’s faces through the things I post, the videos I make, and the music I put out.

Three words she’d use to define Gen Z: Powerful. Inspirational. Wise.

How she got into About two years ago, a storm flooded my family’s house. While we were getting the house repaired over the summer, we had to live out of suitcases in my mom’s parents’ house. Since I was away from all my stuff and all my friends, I filled some of my time on social media, where I stumbled across a friend’s lip-syncing video shared to Instagram. I thought it was so cool! So I downloaded the app and started making my own lip-syncing videos.

I began recording 15-second clips. I tried to get as creative as possible. From the start, I was just being myself. I made videos that I enjoyed making. One day, featured my video, and overnight I went from 80 followers to thousands. kept featuring more and more of my videos, and by the end of the year I had over a million followers!

What she wishes older people understood about her: I think a lot of people judge me or belittle me because my “break” came from making lip-sync videos on and that somehow because of that, I’m not deserving of an opportunity to branch out and sing, act, write, or direct. I don’t think that’s fair. I work really hard, and — I think this goes for anybody who puts themselves out there — it takes a lot of work, guts, and determination to make it in this world. We live in a new world where social and digital media are simply a new form of entertainment that are just as legitimate as “traditional” entertainment. And those of us who found a start on this platform are as deserving as anyone for the successes we achieve.

Her greatest accomplishment (so far): This has been such a fun and exciting adventure so far. I’ve had such an amazing opportunity to meet so many great people, visit so many awesome places, and get to do such cool work. So in some ways I don’t want to answer because I feel like I’m still climbing my own personal mountain and looking forward to what comes next. I really am proud of some of the things I’ve done — develop and star in my own series, write and record songs, and write a manuscript for a book. But far and away the coolest thing is getting to meet supporters and learn ways in which I might have helped them through tough times. I had one mom come up to my dad and me and tell me that her daughter used to be depressed and really down on herself but that when she started watching my videos, she started to feel less insecure and more confident and that now, she’s doing great. Another parent told us that their autistic son used to never speak, but that now, he watches my videos and something about them has helped him come out of his shell. And of course, the thing that I’m always passionate about is seeing how my community stands up against bullying.  


What she’ll be doing 10 or 20 years from now: I really love what I’m doing and where everything is going. My family and I are big on putting your dreams and goals out there, and so many times the things we envision for ourselves are the things that end up coming true for us. So looking ahead, I hope to be an accomplished screenwriter, director, and actor. I’d love to make my own films and have my own production company. I also want to keep making music and will have recorded a bunch of albums and go out on tour. I will keep writing. It’d be really cool to have a few books published. Maybe a talk show like Oprah or Ellen would be fun too.

And on a personal note, I hope to have a family. At least five kids, and I will force them all to make lip-sync videos