interview by JANA LETONJA

Colombian lifestyle creator and performer Emely Moreno made her big screen debut in January with a guest-starring role in ‘Mean Girls’. She is the host of her podcast ‘That’s Debatable with Emely Moreno’, and has recently collaborated on social media with musical artists like Jonas Brothers, Janelle Monae and Kali. In 2024, Emely will also begin pursuing a career in music, which she will be teasing more about on her TikTok.

Emely, we’ve just been able to watch you in a guest role in the musical film ‘Mean Girls’. How did you get this role and how excited were you about it?
So excited. It’s kind of a crazy story. I got the role because of a dance video I made on TikTok to the song ‘Bad Romance’ by Lady Gaga. Kyle Hanagami, the choreographer for the movie, saw the video, followed me and then a couple of months later sent me a message on TikTok asking if I would be interested in a cameo in the upcoming ‘Mean Girls’ musical film adaptation. I was thrilled to even get a DM from him, let alone an offer for a movie. As a dancer, I had respected his work for years. Many dreams came true that day. 

Of the scenes you were in, which one was your favorite and why?
I love the montage where they use my voice to narrate one of the final scenes. It’s the clip where I spread a rumor about Cady pushing Regina in front of a bus. Something people always say to me on the street is “I recognized you because I heard your voice”. 

It’s so cool to not only have people be able to recognize me when they see me, but also recognize my banter, humor and tone of voice. Those were also the funniest lines I came up with. A lot of the lines they included in the film, I improvised. 

dress AKVNAS

Is acting something you would like to explore more in the future?
Absolutely. I’ve done some theatre in the past and I grew up on stage performing in national and regional dance competitions. Would love to explore more opportunities within entertainment, music and acting. 

Fans know you as a lifestyle creator and podcast host. How was the idea for your own podcast born? Tell us more about ‘That’s Debatable with Emely Moreno’.
In high school, I was on the debate team. Something I learned from that training was being able to properly form an opinion and understand both sides of an argument. Even if people don’t agree with me, I’m open to hearing what they have to say and that’s what inspired the title, ‘That’s Debatable’.

I like long-form content because I get to give a behind the scenes look at some of my most viral videos, which are just a few minutes long. In our ever-changing world, there’s always something to discuss, argue and debate. I wanted to have a vehicle where I could give hot takes and back them up with fully-baked thoughts that went longer than 3 minutes. 

You have recently collaborated with musical artists like Jonas Brothers and Janelle Monae on social media. How was it working with them and what excites you the most about these collaborations?
Meeting the Jonas Brothers and Janelle Monae were two truly amazing experiences. I’ve been a fan of them both for so long and I was very nervous to meet them, especially the Jonas Brothers. 

Growing up, a big dream of mine was to just see the Jonas Brothers in concert, so to be able to be in the same room with them, introduce myself and create a viral video together was mind-blowing. That was a huge full circle moment. 

I love being able to combine the worlds of traditional celebrities and social media creators. We all got to be collaborative in both of those situations and I loved getting to work with them as a fan of their art. 

shoes TIBI
hosiery FALKE

Social media has many advantages, but can also be harmful for younger generations. What is your personal view on social media?
I love using social media to be creative, express myself and make a living, but it does come with pressure. The pressure to do well, stay consistent and entertain can be daunting. In the moments when I feel the overwhelming pressure, I remind myself why I started doing this in the first place. I remind myself of the happy and ambitious young girl who was posting YouTube videos singing and dancing without the fear of what other people thought. That’s the best headspace for me, when I’m being authentically myself without focusing on the negative aspects of the job.

With any job or career, there are always pros and cons. The cons of this career can be heavy at times, but I love what I do and I love to entertain. I want my videos to be an escape for someone when they’re having a bad day, feeling overwhelmed or just down. Even if it’s just for a few minutes. 

This year, you will also begin pursuing a career in music. What makes you passionate about music?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to singing and dancing as a form of creative expression. I loved participating in talent shows and signed up for dance classes the moment my mom allowed me to. I remember on my 10th birthday I had a “talent show” themed party where each of my friends was required to perform a song and dance. 

I also grew up in a very musical household. My dad collected salsa records and my family would sing and dance for hours. Whether it was through my family or seeking out new music for myself, I was surrounded by all different styles of music and grew a deep appreciation for songwriting, dance and performance art. I look up to artists like Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. They locked in my passion for music at a young age. 

What can your fans expect from your upcoming music?
Although I do it now online, I want to continue entertaining the masses. My dream is to eventually do it in real life. I want to create a space where people feel safe, happy, free and celebrated. Whether that’s a video people laugh at or at a venue where I’m performing. 

Storytelling is natural for me and I want to be able to showcase this talent in a variety of ways. I’d love to be able to story tell through music and dance. That’s my biggest dream. I also want to make my friends, family and audience proud. If it wasn’t for the unwavering support of my followers, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go after my dreams. I’m so appreciative that they allow me to express myself authentically. 

Besides working on music, what other projects do you have coming up in 2024?
I just wrapped an insanely hectic NYFW, so I’m now gathering myself for the rest of the year. I attended incredible shows and presentations for designers including Phillip Lim, Christian Cowan, Patbo, Badgley Mischka, Silk Laundry and events for brands like YSL. It was wild. I love pushing boundaries outside of my comfort zone and I want to keep exploring the worlds of music, fashion and entertainment. All I can say for now is stay tuned.

photography assistant JOSEPH PARRA
styling assistant WALTER PRINCE
production assistant AARON ROYCE