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Meet Gabriella Halikas of Keeping up with Ella in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabriella Halikas.

Gabriella, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Better known as Ella Halikas online. I’m a curve model based out of Los Angeles, CA signed with Scout Model Agency. I went to the University of Hawaii at Manoa and studied Journalism, which I then wanted to be a news anchor. It wasn’t until I began posting a ton of photos on the beach in Hawaii, where people kept telling me I had a chance at modeling. I thought my friends were crazy, considering I was a size 14 and far from society’s beauty standards. But I believe my confidence is what inspired people through my photos. The second I got behind the camera, I felt so empowered and confident in my skin that I instantly knew I could go somewhere with this.

I then started to build traction online and a ton of bathing suit brands reached out to me wanting to work with me. From there, I got more young girl followers who were inspired by my confidence and wanting to follow along my journey. In the beginning of 2019, my agent Jada reached out to me via Instagram and asked me to come into their office when I was home in SF to potentially get signed with them. From there, I became a professional signed model. Something I never even thought was possible just months before that conversation with my agent.

July of 2019, I tried out for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, where my video went viral and the editor actually chose my video to re-post on their Instagram page. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a call back from them, so I decided to take the risk and go to Miami for the in-person open casting call with them. I did not receive a call-back from them but I know that’s not the end to my SI swimsuit story just yet. I am a firm believer you can never give up on your dreams, no matter how many no’s you get along the way.

In August, I moved back home to the Bay Area once I graduated from college so that I could try to save money for a little bit, before moving to LA to pursue my dreams. When I got home, the editor of the Walnut Creek Magazine wanted to interview me for a feature story on how I became a model. This was a cool experience for me since it was my first ever magazine feature.

For the next couple of months, I worked hard trying to build my social media channels up, posting YouTube videos weekly, running around to castings, all while working full-time at a restaurant serving, trying to save as much money as I could. I then created a TikTok account which I now have close to 160k followers on.

In January, I posted a storytime TikTok which now has 11 million views, and I am known as the “CEO of story-times and confidence” on my TikTok platform.

Once the pandemic hit in March, and I lost my job at the restaurant, I knew I had to get serious about what I wanted to do with my life and my true purpose.

Immediately, I knew I had to make some moves. I packed up my bags and told my parents a week before that I was moving to LA. They were shocked of course but knew that no one could stop me.

With the virus slowing down the modeling industry, I have worked harder at building my social media channels now that everyone is online more than ever before. I currently have 16.3k subscribers on my YouTube channel, 158.7k followers on my TikTok, and 15.6k followers on Instagram. I’ve been able to finally hire a video editor for my YouTube channel, and have worked with more brands on social media this month than I ever have before.

With the higher demand of brands wanting to work with me, I’ve been able to start charging for my work and content now. I feel as if my handwork has been starting to pay off, but I’m nowhere near where I want to be. I have so much more work to do, and so much more I want to accomplish.

My true purpose I believe is to help other women feel confident in their skin and truly love themselves. So many people are lacking that self-love that I believe I embody and can help others achieve. I am currently working on building a business where I can do just that.

My story is nowhere near finished, but I am proud of myself for just how far I’ve come.

Last month I had a photo of me featured in a Forbes Magazine article about 7 swimsuit brands:
Underneath “strange bikinis” you can see my photo!

Has it been a smooth road?
It hasn’t been a smooth road at all. I was a full-time student and working 40 hours at a restaurant in Hawaii. Then I would come home to edit my YouTube videos around midnight with an old laptop that would always crash on me half-way through, to only post it and get maybe 15-20 views. I’ve been fired from a restaurant job in Hawaii which really took a toll on me and my self-confidence. Then from being broke without a job, and trying to go to class everyday to get a degree, all while trying to build my social media channels when no one else believed in me or my dreams, made me want to quit so many times. But the dm’s I get from other girls and women today who I’ve helped build their confidence up keeps me going.

Losing my job and moving to LA within a week’s notice in the middle of a global pandemic hasn’t been the easiest transition either, but I know it had to be done. I had to make moves, I had to take risks, and so far I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

I believe everything happens for a reason, and there’s a reason I had to experience the lowest of lows in order to be where I am at today.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I believe Los Angeles is the perfect city for what I am trying to do and build. Modeling and entertainment is huge here and there’s so many opportunities living here.

This is exactly where I need to be today.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Kristina Perrone – (for the first picture – me in the blue dress on the beach), Roalyver Lopez – (for the palm tree beach picture, wearing a white top), Darrin Baldridge – (for the side profile headshot), Jessica Pine,- (for the bridal shot, of me wearing the hat).

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