Niana Guerrero Breaks New Ground
There’s no denying that 2021 gave us inexplicable hope despite the many challenges we faced collectively. Google’s Year in Search reveals that the world looked up “healing” more than ever before, which acts as a true sign of our times. Amid such grave loss has emerged stories of survival, optimism and victory.
In the Philippines alone, journalist Maria Ressa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her unrelenting efforts to safeguard freedom of expression; meanwhile, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first Filipino Olympic Gold medalist. Many Filipinos, too, turned to healthy escapism and wholesome entertainment as a form of reprieve.
Enter dancer and content creator, Niana Guerrero, who got her early start on YouTube in 2013. In her oldest video, titled Gwiyomi Baby Niana, she parodies the South Korean chiptune pop song. And in our sit down with her, Niana recounts, “I released my first video about eight years ago! I think I was 6 years old when I did that Gwiyomi video that went viral on my channel.” She adds, “If I were to watch it now, I think I would cringe a little bit since I had no front teeth when I did that.” The short and sweet video has since raked in 14 million views.
Meanwhile, Niana’s most recent video that was posted a few days ago, features the close-knit Guerrero family dancing to Ariana Grande’s Santa Tell Me, in matching festive green and red silk pajamas. With only a day to rehearse, they still pulled it off, and just in time for Christmas. There’s no denying that family is the foundation of her unprecedented success as a digital creator, with most, if not all, her videos featuring her siblings Niña Stephanie, Chelseah Hilary and, most prominently, her brother Ranz Kyle and sister Natalia Emanuele. She reveals, “My family is part of my support system, and when I feel sad about something, they’re always there to cheer me up with words of encouragement.”
With 14.2 million YouTube subscribers to date, the 15-year-old content creator has a diverse collection of entertaining videos, from amusing pranks (on her and family members) to viral dance challenges and homemade family reels. With the seemingly infinite pool of media available, Niana’s videos stand out, and are especially endearing for Filipinos all over the world because of the ever-present familial kinship.
Niana notes, “Of course, I do enjoy [growing up and sharing that process with my followers]. The best part about it is seeing people happy with what we do and create.” She adds, “For me, I really think that they relate to the music we use since we usually dance to songs that are trending and, of course, [songs] that [have] a good vibe.”
Growing up in the public eye has brought forth unique challenges for Niana, wherein many individuals take advantage of their anonymity. Still, this hasn’t stopped the video creator from sharing her life with her loyal fans—growing up with them through the years—since the good constantly eclipses the bad. Niana reveals, “I have encountered a few [bad comments], but I don’t really mind them. Most of them are nonsense, but some are worth taking note of to improve myself.”
During our day with Niana, we got a glimpse of how bubbly she is. We were introduced to the same Niana everyone knows on social media, never running out of energy and dance moves, being a constant source of warmth in the room. She reveals, “I’m pretty much the same person on cam and off cam, except I'm just a little bit more bubbly off cam.”
“I’m celebrating the end of 2021 by celebrating with my family, and I’m getting ready for 2022 by setting new goals for myself,” Niana shares. For her, the year ahead looks even brighter, full of hope and possibilities. In her 2022 vision board that she created with Wonder, she notes eating healthy, spending more time with family, working on having good health, living in a COVID-free world and—just in case—the hope of meeting Billie Eilish.
But what is next for Niana? She reveals, “You know what, I don't really know. I'm just going with the flow, taking one step at a time. Whatever happens, happens.” She jokingly adds, “You’ll never know, I might become a singer!”
Things may be uncertain, but at least they’re hopeful.
At this point in the year, we’re spending time in solitude, going inwards as we shake off the bad and unnecessary weight we carry. After all, we’re all for leaving things behind, the things that no longer serve us. As we prepare for 2022, we’re pressing the reset button, yes, but we’re also acknowledging that 2021, though difficult, has grown and refined us.
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Photography Ed Enclona
Interview and Cover Story Elisa Aquino
Fashion Direction and Styling Nicole Blanco Ramos
Makeup Slo Lopez
Hair Ida Siasoco
Location Chroma Studio