Open Alexis Ren’s IG account and tell me what you see. A beautiful girl posting beautiful photos? Check. 16 million followers? Check. She’s tired of checking boxes though. Living in a we-are-the-most-or-we-are-nothing world, Alexis is surprisingly self-conscious. You’ll see this word a couple of times moving on, but it’s true. Our cover star has reached the point where she doesn’t need to share everything that’s happening in her life, simply because her art does enough. That’s what she tells me when the Zoom window gets brighter, having in mind it's 10 PM over here, and I still do not own a ring light. After preaching the absolutely-out-of-this-world photos we shot, the conversation just goes on. It’s always exciting to see what a person feels and thinks besides his public appearance. Somewhere between maintaining a strong TikTok presence, running an online community, and conquering the movie industry. As you’ll notice in the covers (too beautiful to go with just one), Alexis has a *very* different side. And she’s ready to show it. The question is: do you pay attention?
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'We have to be the most or we are nothing. It's so toxic'
Your big break happened on Tumblr, right?
Yeah, I think that’s where people started to notice me.
Do you still pay the platform an occasional visit?
Actually, I do. There’s still such a cool crowd over there. I open the app, especially if I’m looking for inspiration.
Is it hard moving from platform to platform? Many people see it as an easy thing to do, but each requires a different type of content.
Each platform can spur a different part of me. On TikTok I find myself more talking, I like talking to people. You can make very short conversational pieces, I also learn things on there, so I appreciate TikTok. Instagram, to me, is just like that place where you could be the God version of yourself – the most perfect one. I know some people believe Instagram’s not real. I post personal things there, but I look at it as my own mini magazine. Twitter is where I can show off my philosopher-kind-of-existential side. It is overwhelming, but if you see it as serving different parts of yourself, it makes more sense. It’s hard to show 100% of yourself on one platform. It’s hard to show 100% of yourself on the Internet regardless, so you if have this idea, you have to throw it out of the window.
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Your work is generally talking and putting yourself out there. Is there something that you wanted to share very much, but you didn’t? Because of what people might say or think about it?
I feel people get really turned away when you’re spiritual or deep. They are just like ‘ugh, f*-k, just shut up’. While I have the tendency of feeling this philosophical perspective of life, I do get self-conscious posting it. It’s never for attention, it’s just truly what my thoughts are.
When did you get into philosophy?
I feel like everyone does at some point. It’s weird that we are here, so we question it all the time.
You’re right, it’s weird.
Everyone has this mindset, it’s up to you if you will feed it. I’ve grown up to question everything in life – it’s one of the things my mum taught me. Question everything. By asking all these questions, you find all these answers. We can put it in different categories and boxes, but it’s just really curiosity. Sometimes it’s polarizing because the internet has places about this type of conversations, but the majority is based around what outfit you are wearing, what you look like, and what your body looks like. I don’t think that this doesn’t matter. We’re here, so it matters. The other POV helps me cope with my anxiety, with realizing that we’re dying. We all think about it, it’s just that not everyone is talking about it.
In my opinion, most of the time social media = comparison. Do you agree?
Hell yeah. But I think there’s such a fine line between comparison and inspiration. Such a fine line, sometimes I can’t even see it. Identifying what it is helps you analyze and move forward. If we don’t, then it gets really sloppy.
So it happens even to you?
Of course, but I don’t act on the feeling. I don’t let it become me. I just let it pass through. The internet is made to showcase the best part of our lives. Instead of wanting to throw hate at someone because you’re jealous, have a different perspective. Thank you for showing me what I want. It’s not about the person, but about where this person is. I’ve become mature enough to know if something triggers me, this is somewhere I have to go. Our emotions are paths to realize what we want. It’s important to be careful though because we have this beautiful ability to fantasize over things. It’s such a gift, but don't we use it to make our lives worse?
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It’s all about being self-conscious. And you sound like a person who’s always waking up self-conscious.
Before social media, you know, we had the child stars. They went through this, they had no one to relate to. They were dealing with issues, not having this self-awareness. It’s important.
How fine is the line between privacy and people knowing everything about you?
I think I’m still finding that out. When I first got into the public eye, it was very much a here-is-everything-about-me kind of thing. People loved it, they ate it up. They want to feel like they own you and know you. We like doing this to things. As I got older and when the bad things also started to be there, I realized I need to set a boundary. I have a relationship with the public. It’s another relationship. I just had to think about what this relationship needs to look like.
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I feel like right now we don’t want everything thrown at our faces. Or at least I don’t.
Yes, we are at this point. In the beginning, it was ‘Oh, this is so real, that is so honest’. Now if it’s too much, it doesn’t feel right. I’m finding this really cool in between – it’s okay that I’m not showcasing everything about my life. I don’t need to, because my art does enough. My followers like to play detectives, to find things about me. That mystery comes from the boundaries. They are healthy. I only give them what I want them to see. It’s the same with children – you don’t give away all the candy. You give them a piece every now and then. Otherwise, they are going to get sick and throw up at you. Now that I’m going into acting, I can be vulnerable, as it’s not my story that I’m telling. I still want to share my emotions, it’s who I am. I just needed to find a healthy way to do it.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
I have a movie with Antonio Banderas coming out later this year. It was an amazing opportunity because it was my first big Hollywood film, which is crazy. You never know if you are gonna get these things. I wrapped a limited series as well – amazing script, amazing story, so I’m excited to share that too. Acting is a very slow process, we film something a couple of years ago and you’ll see it now.
It takes time.
The type of person I am, a very go-go-go one, I need something to sit down and wait for.
What do you do when you have nothing to do?
I find nothingness through movement if that makes sense. I’ll go to a dance studio or take a yoga class. I need to move to get into that meditative state. If my mind is not doing something, my body has to. I have to keep going wherever it is. Writing too. I find it very therapeutic, I think more people should write. I don’t have statistics on how many people do it.
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'I didn’t want to create a brand. I wanted to create a meaning'
I don’t too, but I agree that it helps.
And at the same time, you also want to document your life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really remember 10 years ago.
I don’t remember two days ago.
You don’t want to walk past your life and not have anything about who you are as proof. It’s more than just cleaning out your mind. Don’t you want to get to know yourself?
My job is writing, so for me, it’s always been easier to write things down before I get the chance to say them out loud.
Our brains go very fast. Writing slows you down. We need this now more than ever.
Is that why you started your community ‘We Are Warriors’ in 2020? Or it was because of the pandemic?
I was looking at something I wrote in 2017. To quote it, ‘I want a community where I can truly connect with people.’ I didn’t know what that means, you don’t know what that means. Community. What does it mean? If you are not selling a makeup brand or not having a bikini brand, what are you doing? I just felt like the world doesn’t need another brand. I didn’t want to create a brand. I wanted to create a meaning. I thought I’ll have this community when I’m retired. It started as a workout program, but then we have a live call every Friday so we can talk about our progress. At the time that’s what girls looked up to me for – fitness, lifestyle, mindset. I was like ‘Okay, I can do this for you, guys’. I’ll give them what they want. Then all of the sudden it’s vulnerable because I’m in a Zoom call just like this one, but with 200 or 300 girls. It evolved and became something that I do. Every Friday, 10 AM. Tomorrow, at 10 AM, I have my live call.
What's on the agenda?
We tackle different topics. We do trauma work through writing. You’re documenting yourself so you can look back at it in 10 or 20 years, but you’re also answering these pretty tough questions we like to avoid. We’re bringing on new teachers, finance experts, skincare specialists, my friends come to teach different types of workouts. I wanted to show how the two are basically the same thing. How you treat your body is also how you treat your mind. You have to do both to really understand mental health. I’m super stoked because we’re at the point where we have a community and we’re switching to an NFT community. Everyone has NFTs now. It’s all about understanding what a community is. I know all their names by heart, they are my friends, my people. I helped one of them with an audition. It’s interesting, it’s new. I’m on the frontline of this. It’s cool because it’s not only me making the decisions. They can come when they need to. We’re all building it together. It’s really special. Not only because I’ve created something, but because I’m a part of it too.
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I don’t know many people who engage that much with their followers.
How do you though? The platform is not set up for you to have a real connection. It’s set up to sell something. That’s why you have to take people off social media.
Yeah, you can do it. It’s up to you if you’ll do it.
A lot of people enjoy attention more than responsibility. I wanted to learn how to carry that type of responsibility, being a leader in some way. Some people don’t want that, which is okay. I wanted to take it to the next level.
True. People get more and more demanding.
Not only people. The algorithm too. You have to post an exact amount of photos or your followers won’t see them. It’s terrifying.
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What’s your record for being away from all this? Mine is a day.
A week, I think. I was in Bali for a wellness retreat. It was hard because, with everything you’re addicted to, you have withdrawals. I felt moody up to this breakthrough moment when it was magical. Something like a fast. The first two days are hard. On the third, you are full of energy. It’s healthy to do it. But the guilt of saying you’re gonna do something and not do it is just unhealthy as not doing it. That’s okay. It’s all okay.
It’s always about what we have and haven’t done. Not only in terms of work.
Exactly. We identify who we are based on an action. This is something I’ve been practicing lately – what I need to say in order to hit different.
And yet answers are way simpler than we think.
We always feel the need to make more money or to feel safe. As long as you have people around, it’s fine. We have to be the most or we are nothing. It’s so toxic. I need to remind myself that success is very different from gross income and how big the company is. Every single person believes things have to keep getting bigger. Why can’t they just be good enough? I do come from a certain background with certain life experiences, so I’m sure that someone can look at what I’m saying and be like ‘It’s easy for you to say’. And they are not wrong. I can only look through my perspective. Once again, there are many different truths.
Being self-conscious after all.
You’re not wrong. But I’m not wrong too. We’re both right. Isn’t that cool?
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