Like a Project Runway for the FYP generation, the cool-as-hell series, Exposure is fast-paced, educational and features eye-popping work from deeply talented artists. And it’s all done on phones! Designed as the first-ever mobile device competition, the slick project kicked off two weeks ago with eight content creators of wildly varying FYP draws facing weekly themed challenges to create content solely on a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra smartphone.
Fittingly, the new season is hosted by singer, actress and O.G. internet star Lele Pons, the Venezuelan powerhouse with 48 million Instagram followers who got her start on Vine over 10 years ago.
In every episode, which stream on her YouTube channel, Pons is joined by fellow judge Adam Waheed and a rotating roster of guest experts as the dwindling stable of creatives continue to push the boundaries of new media in hopes of scoring a sweet contract with Samsung worth $250,000. But while a cash prize is always awesome, Pons notes that you’ll never be content with creating content if you’re only in it for the swag.
Here, the refreshingly frank multi-talent explains why.
This is such a cool show and such a perfect project for you. You have been making content for about half your life, right?
Lele Pons: Yeah. Like 10 years. I started on Vine.
And now there’s a generation now that doesn’t even know…
What vine is! Yeah. [Laughs]
How did you get interested in content creation?
Um, I just really loved creating fun videos just, you know, for me, right? Back in the day, it wasn’t a thing to be a “social media” star. It wasn’t like, “I wanna be a social media star” because that didn’t exist. I feel like we opened that door for many people. But it was just for fun because I love doing it…and that’s maybe why I haven’t quit doing it. Because I love it
So you’re still having fun 10 years in?
Yeah. I never saw it as a job, you know?
It’s wild that you’re so young, but can be considered a pioneer of this content industry really.
Thank you. Yeah. It happened so fast…it’s really crazy when you look back at it.
In the first episode of Exposure, you say “I had to host this show” because it really is your world.
Exactly. And I feel like we’re not really judging the contestants, it’s more about helping them. You know, to get out of their comfort and become who they wanna become. We give them the advice and challenges that we’ve had to go through, Adam and I, during our careers so they can push themselves.
You also provide viewers with the educational language that sort of explains the artistry that goes into what we see on Instagram or TikTok. You explain transitions and scoring and how it’s all in the editing.
It’s all in the editing. And what I love about the contestants is that they do edit. They direct and they edit and they come up with their own ideas. That’s what I love and respect about them because not a lot of people do that these days. It’s just about [repeating] trends, right? I love creativity. I love when people are themselves and don’t copy others. That’s why, when you go to my Instagram, there’s nothing that you’ll find anywhere else.
I was so impressed by the end results of the challenges on Exposure…everything the created was done on Samsung Galaxy S22 phones!
And literally, the phones are the future. [Laughs] Samsung was amazing to film with. The equipment that they got to work with on a phone is unbelievable, like the quality and options? Amazing. And you can see clearly during the night time too.
Did Samsung provide the contestants with training on how to use the phones?
Yeah, yeah. And they also got to work with their tablets, which also helped with all of the editing. They are amazing.
Since you and Adam were hosting and judging instead of creating the content, how was that for you being the one who wasn’t really in 100 percent control?
It was difficult. Yeah. But you know it’s all about the content that was gonna be created.
And you’ve collaborated with other people in the past, so you know how to play well with others,
Everybody! That’s my favorite thing to do is collaborate.
Did any of the contestants kind of inspire you to maybe try something that you haven’t considered yet?
Oh yeah. Many of them. Like, Rocio with her fantasy world, that’s dope, you know? And the special effects that they had were amazing. Ben’s claymation was amazing. So I would love to do more things with that. I don’t know how he does that.
What kind of time limit did these people have for each challenge?
Each one was different. Sometimes they have like three hours, four hours, two hours. They each had their own content-creation studio on set and we filmed in LA, near Burbank.
As somebody who really came up in this world, what would you say is the biggest misconception people have about building their social media platform?
You have to go into this with a thick skin, knowing that not everybody’s gonna like your work. Sometimes you’re hoping for something to go viral and it doesn’t. You’re like, “But why? I did everything right. Why didn’t it go viral?” You have to keep trying. Some people are stopping after the fourth, fifth [post]. It could take forever, you know, but keep trying. Because if you love it, you won’t give up. If you do it for [any other reason], just don’t do it, because it’s gonna show in your work.
So I feel like people should accept the fact that not everything that you do is gonna be successful. There will be some, but not everything. Just do it because you love it, not because you wanna be famous or popular or have money. I got into this because it’s like a hobby, it’s something that I loved. And forget about the haters, because the bigger you get, the more you’re gonna get from them.
Well, that’s been a fascinating side to emerge from the content world, all of the drama amongst creators. TV and film creators don’t usually take their beef so public, but if content creators online have issues, they blast it out on social media, so you all are far more exposed to that kind of stuff.
I feel like we choose it, yeah. That’s why I’m saying like, we’re choosing to do this so we have to see the consequences.
And so what’s next for you?
Uh, what’s next for me? Well, I’m gonna do my own podcast. I will love that. I am gonna do more music… hopefully get engaged. I wanna start a family in two years.
Nice! And finally, even though you are doing what you love, how do you unplug from it all?
Oh, just put your phone away. I do that all the time. Yeah. It’s really hard. But honestly, it gets to a point where you really want to be present. So I have to. I really don’t want to miss out on any more of the things that I have in the past and just be present.
Watch an exclusive sneak peek from Exposure below:
Exposure, New Episodes, Sundays and Mondays, YouTube