Kurt Coleman

Kurt Coleman
Q. Intro:
This week I chat to the lovely Kurt Coleman, who has been a friend ever since he appeared at the Social Diary 10th Birthday almost a decade ago.

The theme was #HASHTAG, so of course we had to fly the 'original influencer' to Sydney to star in his own 'Selfie Booth'! He was only 17 so was chaperoned, and turned 18 at midnight. He was a huge hit and people queued all night to get a selfie with Kurt. He makes me laugh every day with his hilarious and genuine Insta posts, just hearing his voice is guaranteed to crack me up. Now 26, I'm so proud of how he's grown and for his absolute honesty in everything he does.

We talked about how he's coped with brutal haters and bullying both before and after becoming famous at just 14 years old; his deep belief in self-love before it was cool which made him a target; the very serious illness that made him quit drinking 2 years ago; the pros and cons of management and how he feels about pages that call out influencers for their bad behaviour... x Tiff
Q. You are known as the ‘original influencer’ – how did that come about and how old were you when you started?
I have always loved cameras since I was a kid, every birthday or Christmas I would ask my family for a new one, whether it was video or a still camera. I was always doing photoshoots, making funny skits and even music videos. So when social media was first a thing I just started sharing my silly videos and shoots. I also went to 6 schools so I feel like people knew me around the Gold Coast where I grew up. My content spread rapidly via word of mouth, it just kept going everywhere - and by age 14 most kids and teens in Australia knew me. At that time I couldn’t leave the house without being mobbed by people who loved or hated me and it was so scary.
Q. That must have been really intense having ‘haters’ at such a young age? What do you think of haters then and now, in general?
It was crazy being so young. I was really targeted being one of the first people to become famous through social media. I was just scared but also, before I became known I kind of had the same reaction. People from other schools I had never met used to threaten to bash me up. Jordan Barrett who is a world famous model now once threw tomato sauce on me at a shopping centre when I was 13. I didn't even know him and it's the same type of behaviour I copped but 100 times worse when I became known.

I'm OK now, I stay away from drunk places a lot so I don't attract that type of behaviour. Sometimes if I'm catching a train I can get scared when people yell and threaten me but mostly, I feel way safer. People online who say stuff are just that - keyboard warriors. I do really think haters are jealous deep down and I wish I could help them be happy with themselves. I'm more cautious about the people in real life who can get you at any moment. I am forever looking over my shoulder because of my past, people used to chase me, follow me and grab me every single day and it's something that has never left my body. It's a type of trauma I guess.
Q. I am always so amazed at how you've handled it all. Why did it happen?
In 2012 I started posting everyday about how much I love myself. When Memories on Facebook come up I relive the hatred I copped, every comment is laughing at me, calling me a narcissist and even threats on my life. It’s crazy to see that now a decade later, when self-love is the flavour of the month. It’s what people's claim to fame is, it’s a trend to be ‘so in love’ with yourself, body positivity and all that. I hope people don’t just use it as a trend because it’s much deeper than that. I remember one of my high school teachers bringing up my images on Google on a massive projector screen and saying to the class “this is how to not get a job when you’re older" and calling my behaviour ‘narcissistic’.

I was called this by news outlets years ago also, and I was just a kid. But my message was to love yourself because I just wanted to be happy and make others happy. I knew there were a lot of people with self image issues so I wanted to put something good out there, and it was received like that - but then the private messages started flooding in of how it helped people so much to become confident in themselves. It made my day and kept me going so I focused on that.

It came full circle for me in 2021 when I was recording my podcast over a few glasses of wine and I woke up the next morning with shooting pains in my stomach. At 9am I was going to go to a doctor, and 10 minutes later I said ‘no I need the hospital’. I could barely stand up. I was diagnosed with pancreatitis which can be caused by excessive drinking. I binge drank through all those years of being a teenager when people were saying all this stuff about me and trying to hurt me in real life and online. It was my way of bypassing it all, and I was getting paid to ‘party’ and be that person who dances on the table and is the king of the night. I loved the feeling of just letting loose. I felt invincible.

This continued for a long time until I met my partner Harry. I started spending every weekend at home chilling with him and would only have one or two Champagnes to go and DJ or work an event. But the damage was done from years prior. So for the last 2 years of my life I've been booze-free and it's been an uphill journey of health and wellness which I've been documenting every step of the way. I have never been so happy and proud of my body and my mind. I know anyone can do this if I can. I've realised I can still be resilient, not care what people say, dance on tables, spin the music and love myself more than anything without alcohol. Everyone thinks I'm drunk and so confident at a club when all I'm drinking is water. So that’s been my main focus overall - health is wealth and it matters more than anything else.
Q. What did you think about it all when you were 14 and what do you think of it now?
I was really excited and always focused on the love from my fans, but there have been scary situations especially when I was younger because no one really was doing what I was doing back then. When you’re the first to do anything, some people kind of think you’re weird. Now it’s everyone’s bread and butter. Every business needs social media and I was really at the forefront of “being a brand”. A human character brand that walks and talks. And I created it all myself just by having fun. Now I find it so interesting how people are using social media and it’s amazing that you can make anything a career from your phone. TV executives used to say to me “You’re not an actor, or a model, or a singer… We don’t know where to put you” but now it’s just so normal and I love that people can live their dreams on their own terms. But also I only love when people do it by being real. There is a lot of fake asses out there in this industry, and of course always will be in entertainment world.
Q. What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you on socials?
Honestly, the best thing is making people smile and love themselves. My message that I have spread since 2012 was to be in love with the person you are. Back then I copped a lot of flack for it and was called narcissistic and conceited. There’s a lot of articles of adults calling me those names when I was a kid and just wanted to spread a good message. Luckily I never cared what they said and my message is even more aligned now because I promote being healthy and taking care of your body!

It truly has come full circle for me, so lifting people up and hearing that it’s affected them in that way - that’s the best thing that’s ever happened. Also just getting to work in creative jobs is my everything.
Q. What’s the worst?
The worst would have to be people taking advantage of you and just seeing you as a dollar sign. I’m not really money-minded like that, I just like the experience and being able to be creative. I actually had heaps of cosmetic clinics hounding me the day I turned 18, they were asking for me to come in and get Botox and filler. Being so young I was curious, tried it out and promoted it to my followers which were very young people back then and I never really saw the ramifications of things like that. I was a kid and they were adults taking advantage and pumping my face up. Things like that are just an example of things I have gone through. Oh, and fake friends who just are looking for attention was really hurtful too.
Q. And the wackiest?
I was in Melbourne on holiday with my friends and my phone died because I was taking too many photos. I was at Fountain Gate Shopping Centre in Narre Warren and all these people were threatening me and yelling at me. A few hours later when I plugged my phone in I had missed calls from all my family. Someone in Melbourne had written on Facebook that they bashed me and took my phone and money. It was completely made up. My family thought I was dead and the rumour had spread to the Gold Coast. I’ll never forget it because it was so weird? LOL.
Q. What brands have you worked with lately?
I recently did a campaign with Tinder because I met my partner on there. If you scroll through my page you won’t see a million ads. I think a true influencer is someone who only works with brands they genuinely use and love. I’m so loyal with the people who have supported me through my journey. I was one of Loving Tan’s (a fake tan brand) first ambassadors in 2013, and I still promote them to this day and have never ever put a competitor on my page. That’s something the new age influencers don’t really understand. It isn’t genuine to ‘be so in love’ with a product or service and 20 of their competitors. Just saying.
Q. What’s a brand collaboration you’ve done that has been really successful for the brand?
I think most of the collaborationshave gone really well because I’m so honest and my followers know I’m serious when I’m putting something on my page. I don’t bullshit people, and when you've had followers that have stood by you for over 12 years they would 100% know when you aren’t being genuine. One collaboration I loved doing was a sunglasses collection with Mink Pink - they produced my trademark ‘love heart shaped’ sunglasses and they all sold out. Also services I use like my skin clinic I go to and hair salon always get good clients from me, I’m proud to show off their amazing work.

My favourite categories to work in is health, wellness, beauty, music and fashion. Right now I'm working with Chakra Skin, a holistic skin clinic in Melbourne using Lira & DMK products. They are taking care of my skin and I'm obsessed with them. 

Dream brands to work with are high end clothing brands, and I'm doing a crazy body transformation with my coach Wendy La Roche which I'm absolutely loving. I'm in talks with more activewear and workout supplement brands at the moment because currently that's my lifestyle and always will be from now on. I've had a lot of those companies reaching out recently. One thing I've always declined to work with is teeth whitening. It's a gimmick. I'd go to the bloody dentist if I need teeth whitening babe.
Q. You’ve had management in the past but now you’re on your own – what are the pros and cons of both?
Having a manager is amazing for guidance, support and someone to really bat for you. It’s amazing what you can do with a team behind you and someone who really believes in you and your message. You can move mountains when you are both on the same page and connect in that way. That’s so hard to find which is why I haven’t sought out a new manager, I think I would want it to happen organically.

The cons I would say are if you have different visions and they want to change you into something else, but it doesn’t feel natural or if you feel like they are taking control of the brand you created. A lot of people I have met with over the years before I ever had a manager wanted to do that, and like I said before - they see you as a dollar sign which is in their interest, but I'm much more than just a brand or persona. I’m a human who loves life and wants to go on my own journey as well.
Q. How did the DJing happen!
I've hosted many events over the years and love being on the mic, I started at 15 years old hosting nightclubs on the Gold Coast. Then I went on to do club appearances all around Australia, even when I was still underage! When I did appearances I'd tell the DJ what to play and they'd all say 'you need to get into DJing you'd love it' - so in 2017 I learnt how and the rest is history. I DJ'd all around the country until lockdown where I lost my passion for music because I was stuck at home, but now I'm getting back into it. I play oldschool RnB, hip hop and funky house - and I throw a bit of Britney in to get everyone going. I've hosted events with 30,000+ people and media events & product launches. I'm going to be DJing at a Dr Naomi Skin launch in a few weeks in Sydney & I'm so excited because I love her! 
Q. What are some of the pitfalls to watch out for that you would tell someone starting out, or your younger self?
Well well... I would say to my younger self: stop trusting everyone, stop believing what everyone’s saying, stop taking everyone’s opinion on board… what do YOU WANT! Who do YOU want to be??

And for someone starting out in this business, I would say be yourself PLEASE, don’t change for Instagram, don’t change to be what someone else wants you to be. Make your own brand and be UNIQUE. There is room for everyone but you never want to be a clone of someone. And that it’s so up and down especially being in this for 12 years, you will have really busy times and times where you aren’t feeling so good, and you don’t have the confidence to post and that’s when your ‘work’ suffers. It relies on you, your face & your voice so much. I have been through it all - the ups and downs and I have shared my lowest times with the online world because I have no shame in that.
Q. What are your thoughts on pages that call out influencers like Tattle, Influencer Tea and Influencer Updates?
I honestly think a lot of influencers just get angry because stuff on those pages are actually true. They can’t handle people questioning things that don’t add up. Yes there is trash gossip of course on every gossip page, but coming from someone who has had all the magazines and papers saying stuff about me when I was only a little kid, you have to be OK with people saying whatever they like about you if you are putting yourself out there EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE. You are showcasing your world and people are going to say stuff, so just embrace it and laugh at the lies! You don’t have to take it seriously. You don’t have to be out in public sharing this but you choose too and I truly think... ‘toughen up sweetheart’
Q. Who are some of the influencers you love following?
I love Paris Hilton because she’s Paris Hilton THE OG. I have always supported her and she’s always supported me since I first came into the public sphere. I just think she’s so funny, I love her attitude to life, the persona she’s created and the brand she’s built for herself - by herself.

I also love Matilda Robertson, who runs STAX with her husband Don, she’s a beautiful person who basically shares her life in such a genuine way, she is so authentic with what she posts and I love her attitude, style and heart too! I watch her everyday.

And of course me, I pride myself on being the realest. Even if something I think is not a popular thing to say, I’ll say it because it’s the truth. I want to lift up people and truly think I was born to help others and the way I do that is just by speaking the truth and showing my self love to the world. I’m proud of me and the person I am today.
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