Estefania Pessoa, also known as Tefi, is a hilarious, kind, and down to earth social media comedian that we can’t get enough of. Her knowledge and honest take on advice and pop culture has gained her well deserved recognition on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. She has her own pop culture show, Tefi on YouTube that’ll surely tell you all the important celebrity news you need to know, while also making you laugh like you never have before. I had the honor of chatting with Tefi, and got to learn more about how she got her start in social media, mental health, and how she has become the woman she has always wanted to be.
Anyone who follows you on Tik Tok or is subscribed to the Tefi channel knows you're a great pop culture expert. What started your passion for pop culture?
I was lonely. During high school, during the 2000's era, I was in a relationship with a guy that was just very toxic, and he kind of isolated me. At that time, I kind of lost touch with all my friends. So I would watch all these shows that aren't on TV anymore, but they were so clutch, like, VH1 Behind The Music and shows where you get an inside look into all these celebrity lives and they would talk about what Beyonce does and what she spends, and about all these others celebrities. Then watched I love the 90's, I love the 80's, I love the 70's, and I'd watch them with my mom. I was alone a lot and I started to take school seriously around that age. I was with my mom a lot watching a lot of TV, and so I think I retained all this knowledge. Social media was also just starting to blossom and the only way that you could get closer to celebrities was by watching these shows. Now we have Twitter and Instagram where someone can respond to you. If they had that back then, I would've lost my mind. But at that time, I guess in my mind I was learning about pop culture and I couldn't talk about it with anybody so I would talk about it with my family and it became a bonding thing! That's where it kind of started, just wanting to get to know these celebrities as much as I could and being lonely. Then having that as a conversation starter or a conversation holder with family and potential new friends in a way.
How did your show, Tefi get its start on YouTube?I always worked in wardrobe styling or producing, and I was always on set and stuff. I was at the time working in social media management for a photography and production studio. I would help take care of clients and I remember being on social media so much. Being on social media so much, you kind of get less scared of it. So I started doing long Instagram stories, just talking in between the hallways or if something funny happened to me, or if I had an opinion about something, I would just post it on my Instagram stories. I then had an acquaintance DM me one day and she told me that her friend is a producer for a startup company named Dreams, and how they wanted to create their own content and produce it. They were looking for TV hosts and she told me to email them and get connected. I remember I reached out to them and they asked me, "Can you tell us what you would talk about if we gave you a show?" They didn't tell me anything about it, they didn't tell me that other famous comics, podcasters, or well known You-Tubers, and people that had studied broadcast journalism were already auditioning for this spot too.
What is some advice you would give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
When people message me on LinkedIn, they ask "Hi Tefi, any advice?" I'm like, "Talk to your Instagram story!" Just like the genie in Aladdin says, be yourself. You have to be brave and go for it. Do as much as you can in your field and don't even worry about likes or whatever. Just do what you want to do, and people will find you.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a host?
I'm going to tell you the truth, I thought my destiny was to be a 'Real Housewife'. I knew that I wanted to be heard but I didn't know how it was going to happen. I think about my life and how I've always been expressing myself in some career choice in some way, but with a toe in the water, not diving into that completely. I'd always been expressing myself, and then it took me a long time to be brave enough and say that I do want to be on camera. I thought I would need the approval of everybody else to do that. I thought people were going to make fun of me. So I decided one day that I do want to be heard, and I liked the feedback that I was getting from just being more myself on social media. Then in all conversations, I started saying, "Well, one day I'm going to be paid for being myself, one day it's going to be my job to just be myself!" I started saying that all the time, and I think I just started living that. So then when I saw opportunities that would pave that way, I'd go for it. I had to start saying it, and a lot of people say manifest and write it down but for me, I think the universe is like Helen Keller, you need to say it, you need to spell it out, you need to put the hand under the water and do it. You need to be explicit with what you want and let people hear it.
In a recent interview, you mentioned that you spent your whole life imagining the woman you wanted to be. How has that helped you become who you are today?
I think that there's a lot of power in vision and there's a lot of power in creating it for yourself. We grow up and we think I should do this so I have that. For example, if you ask anybody what they want to be when you grow up, they usually say they want to have a job and that they want to be financially stable. What is that? What do you mean? When you ask people about their dreams and stuff why would they say they just want to be financially stable? I said, dream! You should be on a yacht diving into gold. A lot of it was being scared to ask, and then I realized I don't have to ask anybody, I can create that person for myself. I struggle a lot with depression and anxiety, so I started to daydream about being a person that took control, overcame, got help, and woke up at a certain time. It started like that, just thinking about how this girl goes to the gym, she does self-care, she does things that she knows are going to be good for her, and she doesn't procrastinate. I would love to be that person! So it started with small things like that. As soon as you start waking up and feeling better, then you feel better enough to go a little further and then I ended up thinking, I want to be the girl that gets to work, who loves what she's doing, who's heard, who helps other people, makes people laugh, and makes them feel more comfortable. So start building up that person, pretend to be that person, and you will become that person.
You are hilarious on TikTok. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Drama! Just kidding, I think that I pretend that I'm doing this with you right now, just having a conversation. I'll have a conversation with a friend, and I'll say, "Wait a second let me make a TikTok about this!" I do it just in case somebody is going through the same thing or in case somebody also loves this movie, etc. I very much get it from real-life conversations and things that I would have wanted to know when I was younger. I want to be as relatable as possible.
How do you put your anxiety to the side to be able to deliver on Tefi or film a TikTok?
I think we have to laugh at ourselves a little bit. We can't allow ourselves to be toxically positive where we don't allow ourselves to feel negative feelings. When I'm anxious, everything feels so dramatic to me. So what helps me and grounds me, is kind of laughing at myself and telling myself, "You are so dramatic!" Or calling my friends who also suffer from it and laughing about it with them. I'll tell them, "You know what I did last night? I laid flat on the floor, arms out like starfish, and spiraled looking at the ceiling." You have to laugh at yourself.
How do you deal with negative comments online?I do get a lot of them. I think that it bothers people to see other people happy. It's sad, but it's weird. I always feel really bad for people that come with a super harsh clap back because in my mind I think oh my gosh somebody talks to you that way. So I try to humanize them, but not too much to the point where I'll engage with it too much. If I catch myself engaging too much and getting into the game of answering and trying to top it, I just block them.
You have a podcast "Que Pena" with your best friend, Molly. How did that come about, and what is your favorite part about it?It was before we got the Tefi show and we needed a creative outlet. I started to be more vocal on Instagram and social media and people would message me and tell me I should get a podcast. So I asked the person that I have the best banter with and it's Molly. Molly and I had always been in creative fields, but never as the creative. So that was an opportunity for us to start writing and start playing around with comedy. My favorite part about it is that I get to laugh with my friend. I get so into it I forget we're recording because I get to laugh so much with my friend.
How are you taking care of your mental health during these hard times?
I have a psychiatrist, I have a therapist, and I have my core friend group. My fiance, my mom, Molly, they all don't suffer from the same issues that I do mentally. So they're a great perspective to have and they don't dismiss it and they want to understand it more. So as I'm explaining it to them and saying how I feel, it's almost like a therapy session. Then they tell me how they absorb it, it's a greatly different perspective. So having those people that you can have a real conversation with that are looking to help you is great. I also journal an insane amount. It helps me understand myself more. I've also started meditating and meditating has changed my life. It's helped me learn to quiet myself, find the truth within myself, open up, unwrap that, and look at it. It's helped me become a more honest and reflective person.
Your hair is amazing. What are some ways that you take care of your hair and what has your hair journey been?
I went through a high school dying my hair phase. I fried my hair so many times and I've had it at every single length you can imagine except for bald. I think being poor too, I couldn't afford to mess with my hair anymore. I hyper-focused on Mob Wives on VH1 because they had the glossiest long black hair and I was obsessed. I'm a hair mask and a deep conditioner girl. I will say I've been using Fanola for about a month now, and my hair has never been this healthy. I did not expect it, and I never say that. The Fanola deep conditioner changed my hair. I can't even believe it, and I smell like milk and honey. I think the best advice is to find a product that works and then leave your hair alone. Leave it alone!