The 21-year-old influencer opens up about her upbringing in Hawaii, filming the "Hype House" Netflix series, and her life in America's biggest content house.
When Kouvr Annon arrived to Los Angeles, she had no plans to stay past three months.
The Hawaii native was used to a close-knit, personal setting where every face was familiar and the meaning of community carried weight. Her small-town upbringing flowed into her identity: genuine, laid back, and warm. Fast forward to now, Kouvr’s life sits on display for millions of strangers to see. Strangers that will never meet her, but feel entitled to the twenty four hours in her day.
It can place quite a toll on a 21-year-old.
As she became used to internet fame, Kouvr also had to deal with the culture shock of moving to Los Angeles. From the vast tributes that exist in pop culture, we know that the City of Angels is a beast of its own. As a hub for everyone who is trying to break into the entertainment industry, its character is often slandered for being superficial and transactional.
The belief is that in LA, everyone you meet wants something, and unless you can help them get it, they do not care about you.
Throw in the mix a ton of internet followers, a global pandemic, and the nostalgia of missing home, Kouvr was dealing with a lot. In fact, she admits that if it weren’t for her support system, LA could have been a short-lived chapter in her history.
“Something I hope never changes is my support system in my boyfriend,” she said. “If I have a problem with anyone or anything, I go directly to him.”
Kouvr has been dating Youtuber, musician, and fellow Hype House member Alex Warren for the past three years. The couple recently celebrated their anniversary with an impromptu trip to Las Vegas, which Kouvr says represents how spontaneous their relationship is. Their love for each other is well-documented on social media, and while the couple has surpassed their fair share of obstacles in the public sphere, their relationship continues to stand strong. When either one makes an appearance on the other’s page (which is often), comments flood in. As I read through them, a pattern stands out:
“Literally the only couple that makes me believe in love”
“they are my favorite couple ever <3”
“when is the wedding??”
Most influencers experience a degree of relationship drama, but Kouvr and Alex’s relationship is a shining reminder that love deserves to be celebrated, both on the internet and IRL.
“He is my safe space,” Kouvr said.
While Kouvr and her boyfriend are no strangers to posting the highs and lows of their relationship, they are preparing to share an even more personal side of their lives in their newest project.
Last April, Netflix announced an unscripted reality show centered around the most popular content house on TikTok, The Hype House. This collective has allowed a group of select influencers to create videos together more easily by sharing a living space (Kouvr and her boyfriend have since moved out of the mansion, but remain part of the collective). Since the first content creators moved into the mansion, The Hype House has survived its fair share of drama, most of which has been documented for millions of people to see. From members abandoning the mansion to speculations about the relationships that sprouted within its walls, The Hype House might as well be made of glass, and with a few taps, a user gets to throw their stone.
“[Filming for Netflix] was definitely different from what I would put out on a daily basis. We went deeper into family and relationships between people in the house, which for the most part we have kept to ourselves. It’s like that tiny sliver of yourself that you have that the world doesn’t,” Kouvr said.
Founded by Thomas Petrou, Chase Hudson, and Daisy Keech, The Hype House gathered the most popular content creators from the short-form content app and put them together inside a lavish Los Angeles mansion. In addition to Kouvr, the past and present roster includes the Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, Addison Rae, Avani Gregg, and Nikita Dragun. While the individual platform of each creator brought plenty of success, the truth is that The Hype House truly welcomed users in. After scrolling through the account, you get the feeling that you’re sitting in the living room or lounging by the pool as these big names interact with each other.
It’s as intimate and up close as TikTok can get. But soon, with the unscripted Netflix reality show airing in January, we are about to get even closer.
“It made everyone very vulnerable to open up on the show. Especially because in our normal lives everything is public, there’s very little private. It’s very different to be showing that side of you,” Kouvr explained.
While we joke about the Kardashian-esque vibes of the upcoming series, I can tell that Kouvr is immensely proud of this project. Not only did the experience prove enjoyable (“I’d definitely do it again,” she said), but this is the first time she will be sharing bits and pieces from her personal life. As one of the more private members of the collective, Kouvr is nervous yet excited to share this side of her.
Influencers choose to publicize their lives – it’s part of the job. But in their accounts, we get the director’s cut. With Netflix, Kouvr and the rest of her housemates did not call the shots. As life happened inside the house, microphones remained on and cameras kept rolling. Personal conversations, bad hair days, rough moments – these and more were documented for audiences to experience vicariously. Not every angle will be perfect and not a single take gets a redo.
“I’m excited, but I’m also a little nervous about it because I haven’t seen any of it,” Kouvr admitted.
Landing a Netflix show should bring pure excitement, but as optimistic and mature Kouvr is, she has dealt with a ridiculous amount of hate on her platform.
Even though the pandemic slowed the passage of time, it’s important to remember that TikTok is a fairly new app. Influencers like Kouvr experienced tremendous growth overnight. While most of them held status in Youtube and Vine, TikTok hastened their rise to the top.
With followers come opinions. One glance at the comment section in Kouvr’s top videos is overwhelming enough, both in a positive and negative way. I can’t imagine the feeling of knowing that all those words are directed at you.
Despite her willingness to share the outfit of the day, her relationship, or the couple’s latest trip to Europe, Kouvr is considered a private influencer. She honors the privacy of her family and friends when creating and sharing content about her life. That doesn’t stop people from filling the gaps on their own.
Brand collaborations. Guest appearances from other influencers. Fan interactions. Though one sided, these create a narrative that sticks in people’s minds and becomes hard to dissuade. From comments about her body to theories regarding her relationship with other influencers, everyone seems to have made up their minds about who Kouvr Annon is.
“I’m different from who people think. When I walk into a room at a party, I’m not the person who talks to people. I’m always like ‘I’ll be here for fifteen minutes and then I’ll leave’. I’m very much a homebody,” Kouvr says.
I will admit that being excited for Kouvr comes naturally after meeting her. She is honest, but optimistic. Humble, but stands strong for what she believes in. And most importantly, she strives to present herself as she is.
With TikTok’s fast-growing algorithm, audiences continue to raise the bar for the current generation of content creators. We expect influencers who rose to fame during quarantine to fit into every box we throw at them, and to do so graciously and without faltering.
We want them to be entertaining, but not “too much.” We want them to be real, but aspirational. We want them to use their platforms for good, but don’t afford them the same safety net that regular teenagers and young adults get.
And when these boxes go unchecked, we deem it unacceptable and express our disapproval and anger through fast-typed words that to us mean nothing.
“I wish people could take a second, step back, and be like, ‘Would I like that if someone said that to me?’” Kouvr said.
With the Netflix show premiering in a week, Kouvr is aware that once again her life could be turned upside down. Unlike TikTok, Netflix does not come with a like button or a views counter that provides instant feedback. As of now, it is a waiting game. But the anxiety and stress will not fade with the release. If anything, facing what happens next is the true challenge. But with the support of her boyfriend and friends, Kouvr is confident everything will be alright.