interviewer TY CHEN @alittlebitazn
photographer BRANDON ANDRE @brandonandre
stylist ROMAN SIPE @romansipe
model MANU RIOS @ NEXT MANAGEMENT
grooming DAMARIS SANTANA @damarismua
stylist assistant YESENIA GONZALEZ @fresenia
HAVING STARTED HIS CAREER at just 9 years old, Manu Rios is no stranger to the limelight. Now, at the age of 19, Manu is ready to take the world by storm. Having one million subscribers on YouTube and nearly 4 million followers on Instagram, what could be next? We sit down with Manu and get an inside look at what fans can expect from him.
How would you describe yourself?
I am not too sure yet. I consider myself a very curious person who always tries new things and is constantly evolving. I also believe I am very passionate about the things I enjoy.
So what was it like growing up in Spain? Are you close with your family?
I was raised in a very small town, and despite thinking that being there now would be a bit boring, looking back, I am grateful for having been raised in such a calm and safe environment musical references. Aside from loving their music and lyrics, their way of viewing life also inspires me a lot.
How do you approach songwriting? What inspires you?
Writing has always been something that has helped me vent and deal with my feelings more easily. I usually draw inspiration from many different things, whether it’s experiences I’ve had, as well as how I’d imagine stories would go in my head. It’s really fun because you can go crazy and be as creative as you want, but it’s exhausting at the same time because you constantly have to dig deep into your emotions.
How did you get involved in social media? Is it important to you?
I began by uploading covers of my favorite songs to YouTube when I was 10-11 years old. Later on I created an Instagram account after a friend of mine suggested it. I used to only upload photos of me and my friends and of my daily life. I didn’t take it too seriously.
“I would love to be able to inspire people to be comfortable with who they are and to not be afraid to express what they feel and do what they enjoy.”
Because I enjoyed doing it so much, I always tried learning new in which I was able to have a very close relationship with my friends and family. I have learned values that would have otherwise been different had I been raised in a big city.
You’ve been in the entertainment industry for a long time now, how did you get your start and what motivated you?
Ever since I was little I was certain that I wanted to make this my career. My mother owns a beauty salon and at just 4 years old I used to sing and dance for her clients. One day my mother received a random call at her business about a television show in my community and they asked her if she knew someone that sang; she told them her son didn’t do a bad job at it. Days later, I showed up to casting, they chose me, and from then on I began receiving offers for other shows and musicals, which made me even more interested.
Does your family support you with your career goals?
Yes, they always have. All the training I needed I’ve got- ten thanks to them. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support throughout the years.
Obviously music is a huge part of your life. Which artists do you look up to?
There are a lot of artists that inspire me in different ways. I look to Lorde, Frank Ocean, and Lana Del Rey as my things, create better content, and tried to be very consistent with it. It’s still that way today.
Has social media changed your career at all?
Yes. It has opened many doors and allowed me to meet amazing people. It’s also a great way to show your work to others and stay in contact with the people who support you.
How about modeling? How did that begin?
Many modeling agencies and brands got in contact with me when they came across my profile on social media and were interested in working with me. From that point I began collaborating with different brands and recently have signed my first modeling contract with NEXT.
What’s the craziest modeling experience you’ve had so far?
On one of my recent photoshoots they painted my eyebrows white and styled me in looks that were a lot different than what I’ve done before. It was really fun. I love trying different styles.
What does the typical day look like for you?
It depends. Normally if I don’t have to go anywhere, I workout in the morning to start my day energized and in the afternoon I work on composing, singing, piano/guitar practice, photography, and spending time with friends—pretty normal and chill.
What’s your ultimate goal with your career in the entertainment industry? What do you hope to achieve?
My main goal is to be able to create things that I’m proud of and to be as creative and as honest with myself as possible. I would love to be able to inspire people to be comfortable with who they are and to not be afraid to express what they feel and do what they enjoy.
What are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about a lot of things. Music, fashion, photography. Anything that has to do with art has always caught my attention.
What’s next for you? What should fans look forward to from you in the near future?
They can honestly expect anything. I have a lot of ideas that I’d like to execute which I’m working on now. I’m young, so I want to explore and experiment as much as I can artistically. I don’t just want to focus on one single thing.
Follow Manu Rios on Instagram @manurios
Translated by Jose Alves and Pepe San Martin