“By the way, excellent work over there, Loren,” director Taylor Swift says to 17-year-old Loren Gray at the end of her new video for “The Man,” adding that her work was “astonishing.” The joke was that Loren did nothing but stand there and roll her eyes. Meanwhile, the male lead was asked to be “sexier” and “maybe more likable,” a gender-reversal of what probably has happened to Taylor, Loren, and countless millions of other women. It was perhaps the most poignant scene of the whole visual, and it couldn’t have been pulled off without Loren literally doing the bare minimum (but that’s the point, right?)
However, Taylor never does anything without a purpose, so there’s a reason why she recruited Loren for the role. Perhaps it’s because the young star has connected with a new generation of female fans? Or that she’s a singer herself? Or, like Taylor, she’s dealt with a great deal of online bullying while at a young age. As the world celebrated “The Man,” here’s what you need to know about Loren.
1. She experienced fame at an early age. Originally hailing from Pennsylvania (like Taylor herself), Loren blew up online when she was in the 6th grade. “I started posting on musical.ly at the end of 2015,” she told Interview magazine in 2019. “I wasn’t aware of social media fame, it was more just making videos with my friends. Then girls at my school started getting followers, and when I looked at my account, I noticed that a bunch of my videos had been featured, and I had like 30,000 followers. I went to my parents, and I was like, ‘I don’t know what this means.’ I’d just turned 13. It was scary, for sure. There are so many people all over the world who are looking at you all the time and who are interested in your life.”
ok but loren gray in the man mv pic.twitter.com/d0ivyF8zSt
— ❁ (@hvifax) February 27, 2020
2. Loren endured online bullying as a youth. Loren’s overnight success brought her fame – but it turned some of her friends against the young girl. Some of her friends whose musical.ly accounts weren’t taking off as well as Loren ditched the platform and started to bully her online. “They would write awful things. That I ‘have no talent,’ that I’m ‘rude,’ that I had ‘lip filters,’ that I had ‘work done,’ that I was an ‘albino.’ That I was ‘anorexic.’ There were people telling me that they were going to jump me,” she told Uproxx. Loren was taken out of school out of fears for her safety, and underwent counseling. Ultimately, she used her videos as a creative outlet, which led to greater success. As of February 2019, she has over 18.7 million Instagram followers, 39.6 million TikTok followers, and 3.69 YouTube subscribers.
3. She’s more than just a pretty face. I think that the biggest misconception, for me, is that people think, ‘Oh, she’s just pretty.’ It bothers me to the core, because there’s so much more to me than that,” she told Interview, while acknowledging that’s how she “started out as,” but there’s more to her. “Five days ago, I posted a photo of me having a mental breakdown on New Year’s Eve. It ended up being one of the most-liked pictures on my account. One of the other most-liked pictures is a photo of me on my 11th birthday with black clip-in hair extensions and pink eyeshadow, and my braces.”
“I want my fans to be able to approach me in public and not think that I’m some robot who only exists online. I’m a silly girl. I want to make a stupid video. I want to cry on the internet,” she added.
4. She is a singer herself. “The Man” isn’t her first foray into music. She appeared in HRVY’s “Personal” video in 2017. A year later, she signed with Virgin Records to release her debut single, “My Story,” in August 2018. Since then, she’s released a handful of songs, including “Kick You Out,” “Queen,” “Options,” Lie Like That,” and “Can’t Do It” (featuring Saweetie.)
5. She’s also about female empowerment. As to why Loren was picked for “The Man” video? It’s probably because she and Taylor are on the same wavelength. “I wanna be remembered for empowering people, especially the young girls they are following me,” she told C-Heads. “The world needs more positivity.”