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Go Zonuts

Go Zonuts

Center Grove’s Zoe Laverne grows a fanbase of more than 424,000 with musical.ly app

Zoe Laverne Pemberton has earned more than 424,000 fans through her singing and dancing videos on musical.ly. *Photo by Nicole Davis

It doesn’t matter where she goes, from the mall to a family trip to Kings Island, 16-year-old Zoe Laverne Pemberton will run into fans. She’s gained more than 424,000 of them through the app, musical.ly.

“I did it for fun,” Zoe said. “You can dance. You can sing. The app is to show who you are and what you can do. I had no idea I would gain so many followers.”

Zoe grew up in the Center Grove area, moving to Franklin when she was 8 years old. Now in 10th grade, she attends Franklin Community High School. She’s lived in the Center Grove area the past two years with her parents, Debbie Pemberton and Doug Wright.

Though she’s working hard to get good grades, she also has dreams of something more.

While browsing through Instagram a couple of years ago, Zoe noticed a friend post a video from the app called musical.ly. She decided to download the app, a social network with a video-based platform. She started by posting videos of her lip-syncing, dancing and playing around with camera tricks. She gained 1,000 followers within a couple of weeks. A year and a half ago, she started posting even more.

On her bedroom wall, Zoe hangs letters written by her fans.

“I keep posting and have been gaining ever since,” Zoe said. “At first I was kind of shocked. When I hit 10,000 followers, it made me work harder. I never thought in a million years I would get to where I am right now.”

With nearly 425,000 followers, Zoe is a crowned user, a system the app uses to authenticate users who post high quality content and are actively engaging with their followers.

She tries to post at least three videos each day, and has more than 2,000 videos on her musical.ly page.

Zoe has gained many friends from all over the world by using the app. She’ll ‘go live’ on the app, answering fans question – usually about how she does her makeup or even asking for advice on things in their lives. She held her first meet and greet in April, in Louisville, Ky. where she could meet a group of her fans.

“They tell me that I’m their inspiration,” Zoe said. “That makes me feel good. So many people look up to me. They like what I do. I do it just to make them happy.”

Zoe Laverne Pemberton began hosting meet and greets in April.

She traveled to California in July for VidCon, where she met many of her friends who use the app.

“A lot of kids came up to me, asked for pictures,” Zoe said. “It was really fun.”

Zoe has merchandise for sale on her site, things like T-shirts with her name on it, or the nickname for her fan base, Zonuts (out of her love for doughnuts). Her fans have even started their own fan pages on different social media platforms.

Zoe earns some income from the app, which she is saving to take another trip to California. She wants to get her name out there, with a goal to get into modeling and acting one day.

She will audition for America’s Got Talent in January. She has also spoken with an owner of musical.ly, who mentioned additional opportunities that could be available to her, with a possibility of relocating to California.

“I’m sure something will happen soon,” Debbie said. “It’s too active right now.

In the meantime, she is looking to host more meet and greets and get to know her fans.

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