Earlier today, Jezebel published a look at the people behind Lil Tay, a 9-year-old girl and controversial Instagram personality, whose fame is the result of participating in some extremely adult beefs. Shortly after the story was published, Alex Goller Gelbard, who works with Tay in some kind of management capacity, answered a few questions we had for him. It was a wild ride.
Gelbard, who goes by Alex or “Loyalty G.” on most platforms, tell us that his core focus “is brand development, multimedia production and artist management.” He also says he’s not Lil Tay’s manager (despite having identified himself, the first time we spoke as “Alex, the manager for Lil Tay.”) He says he “co-manages” several other “talent,” both his choice of words, and also “provides non-exclusive consultation” for other people.
“Currently in Lil Tay’s case I am not signed on as an official manager, rather I am providing close consultation and other assistive services,” he told us.
Gelbard told us that he met Tay when she approached him and his business partner through their record label. “Tay approached us seeking guidance on the next steps in her career and as a courtesy we provided as many answers to her questions as possible as she planned to launch herself to the next level in Los Angeles.”
You will notice here that Tay is positioned in Gelbard’s answers as an independent actor, not a child saying lines. He consistently stuck with that throughout our conversation. Then, in response to nearly every following question, he showered us in a dizzying array of buzzwords, platitudes, corporate synergy-speak and ambitious interpretations of what’s going on here, telling me for example that Tay “desires that her friends, fans and followers receive inspiration from her bold expressive approach.”
When I asked who shaped her persona, he responded that she’s “self-made,” adding:
She is a bright, edgy and powerful youth who knows exactly what she wants. She is driven and motivated and desires that her friends, fans and followers receive inspiration from her bold expressive approach. Tay has considered a future path for a new form of progressive motivational speaking, referencing her own personal success and showing others how they can emulate this through developing self confidence.
The news that Tay, a child, has considered a career as a motivational speaker was interesting. I asked Gelbard if she is currently in school (she’s previously mentioned being homeschooled), and if she has any new work in development.
“Tay currently does have music plans in development,” he responded. “We are not yet ready to comment publicly on any deals or offers that have been received or confirmed. There are records Tay has put together that have not yet been released, however full projects are in planning and developmental stages.”
He didn’t answer the part of the question about school. He did tell me, however, that a now-deleted Twitter account I found attributed to Lil Tay was made by an imposter, and that an iPhone game bearing her name and likeness was also unauthorized.
“We are in the process of developing our own app,” he added, “and will be reaching out to Apple to have the unauthorized app and any others removed.” He also told me that while Tay has a new Twitter account, @LilTayMgmt, “she never was very active on Twitter. Instagram is currently their main focus with plans for heavier content on YouTube.” (All three of those platforms require users to be at least 13 years old.)
I was also extremely curious about Lil Tay’s use of the word “nigga” and her references to “dope” and “trap houses.” I asked Gelbard if he thinks she understands what she’s saying, and was met with another impenetrable wall of buzzwords:
I think there is a generation disconnect as well as a lapse in understanding of the current direction of content and multimedia delivery. Lil Tay is no different than any other youth star or celebrity, the only contrast is the platform in which she delivers herself. In the past, a youth interested in seeking out a career in the entertainment industry would be forced to work with the control and constraints of massive media outlets that would have full reign and control over nearly all aspects of their talent. With Social Media and Video Sharing Networks, the power is put back into the hands of the creators. Lil Tay is unique but is just as edgy in comparison to the likes of other Youth Stars that have pushed the edges of entertainment and media such as the likes of Hit-Girl played by Chole Grace Moretz in the film Kick-Ass or Ronnie Shields played by Bobb’e J. Thomspon in the film Role Models. These youth all pushed boundaries. Lil Tay does the same but using her own platform instead of a larger conglomerate. Lil Tay simply is able to mediate her own output and content with oversight from her immediate family, associates and team rather than be ‘milked’ essentially by a bigger network.
(Emphasis, again, mine.)
I also asked Gelbard whether he believes that Tay’s particular brand of social media stardom is in her best interests. He responded that “youth public figures pushing limits is nothing new to the entertainment world.” His full answer also indicated they’d like to get her on TV.
I believe that this brand of social media stardom is an independent decision made by a forward thinking and mature youth who has a concept in mind and a goal. Again, Lil Tay is a unique individual, but youth public figures pushing limits is nothing new to the entertainment and public world. I believe that the reason for, if any, negative outcry is because of the platform on which people are viewing her. If you were to see her in a Movie or on TV the same concerns you may have would likely pass on with simple a head shake. And if you are wondering where our sights are set next, YES, television and movies are in the cross hairs.
Having seen a viral video where Tay was involved in a confrontation that ran the risk of turning into a physical fight, I asked Gelbard how he and her mother keep her safe. He responded, “Lil Tay is always in the presence of security, support staff and/or family to protect her. Her safety is a top priority at all times.”
I sincerely hope that’s true.