The Unintentional Rise of Emely Moreno: From Waiting Tables to TikTok Sensation

Photo: Tiana Michele; MUA: Faith Villicana; Styling: Emma Oleck; Dress: LUAR

Emely Moreno grew up on the internet. 

Born to Colombian parents in Bergen County, New Jersey —about 20 minutes outside New York City— Moreno fondly remembers playing the online game Club Penguin and following early YouTube sensations like Lohanthony, Jenna Marbles, and Trisha Paytas.

Though the content creator’s built her TikTok following to 5.8 million as of this writing, 25-year-old Moreno never anticipated becoming an internet sensation. For her, social media has always been akin to a personal diary.

“Making content is an outlet for me,” she tells Remezcla. “I wanted to be able to look back on things and entertain people. Social media is my way of expressing myself through the internet.”

“Social media is my way of expressing myself through the internet.”

For Moreno, it’s always been —and continues to be— about documenting her life while making people laugh. And that spirit shines through.

Ahead, the content creator shares her life before TikTok fame, how she feels about being a Latina influencer in the fashion space, and why her best friend is a parrot named Kiwi.

Waiting tables with 3.5 million followers

Moreno has been working since she was 13 years old, she says. “I’ve always known money is valuable. If I want to buy things, I must make my own money,” says Moreno. “But I knew that the foundation for the work I did had to be creative.”

When waiting tables in her early 20’s, she exclusively used Instagram to give people the lowdown on her workday. “Then a friend suggested I try TikTok,” Moreno recalls. “I didn’t post for a few months, but then I posted something — and it got 10,000 views. That video changed the trajectory of my career.”

Moreno’s following grew to one million in less than a year, but she didn’t put all her eggs in the content creator basket. “I was still waiting tables at 3.5 million [followers],” she says. “People would always ask me, ‘Are you that girl from TikTok?’”

Despite her burgeoning online presence, she maintained her footing in the offline world until February 2022, when she took the leap into full-time content creation — a decision she hasn’t regretted. “I’ve gotten to meet people I grew up watching, and now they’re giving me flowers,” she says. Even better, though, says Moreno:” I’m my own boss. I make the decisions. I work on my own time and am so grateful for it.”

A Latina influencer among the fashion greats

Now that she’s in the space, Moreno finds herself navigating some of the deeper discussions emerging within — most recently, one that centered around Fashion Week, in which Moreno was present. In an era where content creators have undeniable influence and presence in the fashion industry, Moreno recognizes that not everyone welcomes this paradigm shift with open arms.

“I understand why people would feel that way,” says Moreno. “Change is scary, and how we consume media is completely different. But the people who have this influence now… are us.” 

She’s right: Reports reveal that a staggering 69% of consumers trust influencers’ recommendations. Creators like Moreno have massive platforms — and followers seek inspiration from them for their wardrobe, beauty products, and more.

And Moreno doesn’t take that influence lightly, especially as one of the only Latinas in the room (if not the only one). “I realize that I am the representation,” she says. “It feels like a blessing, but it’s also daunting to be that person.”

Yet, amidst the weight of this responsibility, Moreno stands tall, leveraging her influence for positive change. Proudly embracing her Colombian and Latine heritage, she explains, “Like, with my name — I always say ‘Emely with an E and not an I’ because that’s how my parents spell it — and that’s part of who I am.”

Fun fact: Moreno’s best friend is a parrot named Kiwi (yes, really)

But again, for Moreno, it’s all about just bringing a genuine look at her and her life to her followers, even amid social responsibility. With that, it’d be remiss of us not to bring up her pet parrot to close out our conversation — especially as we get to know her more. If you follow Moreno on TikTok, you know she has a pet parrot named Kiwi. He dances with her. He gets jealous if she plays with her other pets. He even follows her into the shower every now and then.

What you might not have gleaned, though, is that Kiwi is her best friend. We had to ask: Why? The answer was swift and unequivocal for Moreno. Because, “When you think of a best friend, you want someone who challenges you — someone who doesn’t lie,” says Moreno. “That’s Kiwi. Kiwi will always keep it real with you.”

And, as the internet’s favorite homegirl, so will Moreno.