If you were on Twitter, or not, in 2014, chances are you are familiar with Alex LaBeouf aka Alex from Target. The 16-year-old’s life was turned completely upside down one day when he was working a shift at Target behind the cash register. Today, three years later, the 19-year-old may not be as famous as he once was, but he certainly still has quite the large fanbase. His life never did go back to how it was during his Target checkout days.
With the rise of social media over the last several years, came the birth of the “Internet celebrity.” It seems to be easier and quicker than ever to become an Internet sensation. You just have to be in the right place at the right time and you too can become famous. This is exactly what happened to Alex LaBeouf aka Alex from Target. Little did he know when he started his shift at Target one afternoon in 2014, that he would become an overnight celebrity overnight.
Becoming Alex from Target
It all began one day in 2014 when 16-year-old Alex put on his Target uniform and began his shift in the Texas store. It seemed like it was just going to be another day working at the cash register, but after one teenage girl snapped a quick photo of him on her phone and shared it on social media, things started to get strange. Alex recalled, “I was working at Target and I was just doing my regular shift, but my phone was dead. Then, my manager came up to me.”
His manager told him what had happened. Alex explained, “She showed me the picture that was blowing up, and it had like 30,000 retweets. I didn’t believe her when she showed me. I thought it was a prank or something.” He continued, “I was very confused, and then, I asked to go turn my phone back on in the back.” He explained that he had received over 10,000 messages on his phone and that his number had gotten leaked.
Out of hand
Alex’s phone shut down because it was flooded with thousands of messages and social media notifications. That one simple photo that the girl took ended up taking over the Internet in a flash. By the end of the shift, Alex had gone from 144 Twitter followers to 5,000. He recalled, “I left work early because people were starting to come in to take pictures. It got kind of weird.”
Alex claimed that before his social media fame, he was always an introverted person. So for him to suddenly receive so much public attention was a strange feeling for the Texan teen. He said, “I was like, ‘What does this mean? Is this going to change my life?'” His first post on Twitter after he went viral was, “Am I famous now?” The moment he realized everything was going to change was the moment that he received a phone call from Ellen Degeneres.
Only days after becoming an Internet celebrity, he got on a plane and flew to the set of The Ellen Show, where he appeared as a guest. The 16-year-old spoke about how he became famous in less than 24 hours. When Ellen asked if he feels like he is obligated to update his many fans on social media, he said, “I feel so pressured. Like they are waiting.” He even admitted to Ellen that he has had several marriage proposals since his photo went viral.
An exciting beginning
It has now been a little over three years since Alex first got checked out at the checkout, and he recently shared what he has been up to these past few years. He first spoke about what he did the first few months after becoming a celebrity, “The first few months were amazing. I was going on tour. I made a ton of friends (including Nick Jonas). I was going on the news all the time. It was really fun.”
Downside to fame
However, after the first few months, he started to see the dark side of being a public figure. He started to get stressed and didn’t know how to deal with his new stardom. He was even afraid to leave the house at one point. He went from being just a normal teen who nobody knew about, to a celebrity who suddenly had no privacy whatsoever. It affected his life more than he could have ever imagined.
After his appearance on The Ellen Show, Alex left his job at Target was forced to leave high school. He was missing so much school for flying out to Los Angeles for different talk shows that his school made him appear in court. He was unable to return to his high school, so he started homeschooling instead. He said, “Once I started homeschooling, then I actually got the freedom to kind of go wherever, so after that everything just started getting crazy.”
Going on tour
Alex participated in the Digi Tour 2015, a social media festival featuring the most famous online celebs, for an entire month straight. “It was the first time I’d ever gone out of the state without my parents. It was pretty crazy.” On the tour, he became best friends with YouTube star Sam Pottorff and eventually moved in with him for a couple months while he was just starting off in California.
The highlight of the tour was when Alex was asked to do the worm, but it backfired. He explained, “They told me to do the worm onstage and I started doing it and at one of the shows I was really, really, tired because we had stayed up all night.” He continued, “I go to do the worm and I did a handstand before I did it and I went up too high and I just went face first straight into the ground.” Although it was one of Alex’s most embarrassing moments, he laughed it off like a pro and made the audience love him even more.
New to social media
Alex said that when it came to handling the admiration of the public over social media, he felt like a total newbie. However, he learned a lot from the fellow members of the tour. “What really blew my mind,” he admitted. “Was hanging out with all the Viners whenever Vine was still a thing. Like King Bach and all of them. I was hanging out with them and they were just spitting out ideas like crazy. I could barely keep up.”
Learning from the experts
Being surrounded by a bunch of Internet pros let Alex pick up on a lot. He admitted, “I didn’t even know how to work a camera when I started. I learned a lot, but I’m still far from getting to where I want to be.” He started with his own YouTube channel, but ran into issues regarding how to get the right sound quality for his videos.
Meet Alex Lee
He recently brought his old YouTube channel back to life, and is sharing both old and new videos with his thousands of subscribers. However, he doesn’t go by the name Alex from Target anymore, he goes by simply, Alex Lee. In his first new video, he posted with the subject “RIP #AlexFromTarget” and updated his fans on what he has been doing.
Revealing the truth
Alex, who has since relocated to L.A., revealed some secrets about the dark side of fame that he has kept private for the last few years. He told a story of how his manager, who was hired to manage his social media accounts, stole over $30,000. He also spoke about several more managers promising to help his career take off only to leave him and give up on him shortly after.
Shortly after Alex’s overnight fame, reports came out that Alex’s sudden popularity was part of a marketing ploy. Breakr, a company that “connects fans with their fandom,” claimed responsibility for Alex’s rise to stardom. Breakr’s CEO, Dil-Dominé Leonares, explained, “We wanted to see how powerful the fangirl demographic was by taking an unknown good-looking kid and Target employee from Texas to overnight viral internet sensation.” Both the girl who took the original photo and Alex deny this, with Alex adding, “My family and I have never heard of this company.”
Staying in touch with fans
Besides YouTube, Alex also has a channel on YouNow, a live stream video chat website. He currently has over 300,000 followers, where he frequently goes live and answers various questions from his fans such as “how was your day?” and “do you like ice cream?” In most of his YouTube and YouNow videos, his girlfriend Kelsey is right by his side which he says is because he is “too nervous” to do it by himself.
When Alex first posted a photo of him and his girlfriend Kelsey Carpenter together, he definitely crushed quite a few hearts. Alex said he met his girlfriend right after he moved to L.A., where he still lives today. Kelsey lived right next door to him, and they met in the hallway. As soon as he met her he asked her out on a date to Denny’s restaurant, and they hit it off right away. Now, the adorable couple is pretty much inseparable.
Back into it
With his return to YouTube and start of YouNow, Alex started to realize that he missed being more active on social media, “I received a lot of really good reactions, people started being extremely nice to me again and I felt like I had fans.” He continued, “I was like, ‘Man, this really makes me want to do social media again.’ So I started posting more and getting back into it.”
The good life
Alex’s Instagram page is even more impressive, with 1.5 million followers. He often posts photos of him and his girlfriend, working out at the gym, hanging out with his friend, his tattoos, and his brand new Jeep. He even often posts photos of himself with celebrities such as Orange is the New Black’s Laura Prepon and singer Nick Jonas. It looks like Alex is certainly living the good life, and he has definitely come a long way since his Target days.
The star is definitely edgier than his swooped-hair Target days. He is now sporting a shorter hairstyle, and has had several tattoos done. “I have the cherry blossom tree on my shoulder. I just really like Japanese style art and it means peace and serenity,” he explained. “I also have the wave on my arm. That’s actually a tattoo me and my girlfriend got together.” He also has a tattoo on his ribcage that says, “When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you,” which is one of his sister’s favorite quotes.
A year after Alex’s fame first rose, he shook the internet once more with a very dramatic new haircut and color. Not only did he cut his beloved blond, feathered locks, but he dyed it bright blue. Although fans had both positive and negative reactions to the young star’s new ‘do, it was short-lived and not before long Alex got rid of the blue for the more natural, dark blonde look, which he still sports today.
Avoiding acting and singing
When Alex was at the peak of his fame, he was asked on several occasions if he was going to use his new popularity in order to start a different career in acting, modeling or singing. According to Alex, he “can’t sing” or dance, and never had any desire to be in the music, movie or fashion industry. He was only 16 at the time, can we blame him for just wanting a somewhat normal teenage life?
A new Alex from Target?
Since Alex first got spotted behind the cash register at Target three years ago, a new retail employee may have taken his place. The internet went crazy after a random customer snapped a photo of an attractive worker at T-Mobile and posted it on Twitter with the title “Kiernan from T-Mobile”. Although his pic managed to go viral and was retweeted thousands of times, Kiernan somehow managed to evade the internet’s grasp, as his true identity was never discovered, and he didn’t get nearly as famous as Alex.
The real Alex
Alex admitted that most people only know him as “Alex from Target” and said, “Nobody really knows me.” He explained that when he had managers, he wasn’t allowed to be his true self, “When I had management they scripted everything.” However, he is ready to be the most honest and true to himself he has ever been with his social media followers, “This time there is nothing fake and I am 100 percent.”
Alex has learned a lot during the last few years, in particular about who to trust and who not to trust. After getting money stolen, and his original YouTube account, which had over 150,000 subscribers, taken over and shut down, he warns other trying to make it in the world of social media to be cautious, “If you are new to social media, and you are just starting to get into it and trying to make it part of your career, I would be very careful about who you trust.”
On his own
The former Alex from Target and current Alex Lee is now sitting pretty on YouTube with more than 17,000 subscribers, even more than his original account. He is happier than ever, especially now that he doesn’t have any managers managing his accounts and telling him what to share and what not to share. He had to learn the hard way, but now he feels a lot less naive than he once was.
Although Alex is now dedicated to his social media profiles, it isn’t the only thing going on for him. He has some bigger stuff prepared for his future, that doesn’t involve him being famous. He recently revealed his next career path in an interview, “I’m probably not going to put everything I have into this because social media is not the type of business I wanna put everything I have into. It’s too risky, in my opinion, especially with what I had gone through in the past. So, right now I’m going to be starting school to be an EMT soon.”
Focusing on the future
With Alex’s new look, confidence, and attitude, it seems like he has changed a lot in the last three years. Not only has he opened up and came out of his shell since his first public appearance on The Ellen Show, he is now a lot more mature and ready to focus on his future. However, although his Target days are over, he is definitely thankful for the opportunities he has received. And to think it was all because of a girl taking taking a single photo of him.
Kelsey moved from Chicago to LA, and is now working as a children’s dance teacher. She is Alex’s number one fan and supports him with every step of his career, and doesn’t seem to mind the millions of girl fans who still flock to him! Alex spilled that Kelsey knew he was Twitter famous before he told her, “Our landlord had told her. She was like ‘Hey, did you know Alex from Target is moving in next door?'”
Kelsey appears in many of Alex’s most popular Youtube videos. In his most recent videos, the couple got nice and cozy and proved just how comfortable they are with one another. In a series of two makeup tutorials, Alex practiced his makeup skills by attempting to put on his girlfriend’s makeup. In the video that followed, Alex let Kelsey do his makeup. Each entertaining and adorable five-minute long video gained over 6,000 views and a couple hundred likes.
If not for fame
Alex’s chance at fame definitely opened up more opportunities for the 19-year-old social media celeb, he recently got asked in a Youtube Q&A session “If you didn’t become famous where do you think you would be right now?” Alex answered, “I don’t think I would still be at Target that would be coming on three years now, that would just be a shame.” He laughed, “I would probably be at Walmart or maybe be a trapeze artist.”
Although Alex is in great shape and dedicates a good amount of his time working out at the gym and staying fit, he is definitely not one to shy away from eating junk food. He frequently shares photos of his favorite food on Instagram, such as pizza, eggs, and bacon, but admitted that his favorite meal is chicken and waffles. He said, “I don’t think anything can beat chicken and waffles.” He said, “Pancakes and bacon and eggs is nothing compared to chicken and waffles.”
In February 2017, Alex from Target got a shot as a TV star, kind of… He appeared on TLC’s show Suddenly Rich. The documentary follows the lives of ordinary people who unexpectedly became rich in a short amount of time. Alex was featured in the fifth episode of the series’ first season titled, Going Viral, which told Alex’s story along and others who became famous overnight due to accidentally becoming internet sensations.
Who took the photo?
So who is the young girl responsible for taking Alex’s picture that led him to fame? A girl from Prosper, Texas by the name of Brooklyn Reiff, has claimed to be the one responsible for the infamous photo. In 2014, Yahoo spoke to the 15-year-old and asked if she thought Alex was cute. Surprisingly, she said “no” and explained that her friend Alanna had tweeted about him and wanted to know his name, so she snapped a photo of him with his name and tweeted it back to Alanna, and that is apparently how everything started.
Since becoming internet famous, Alex has come out with his own line of merchandise, for all the Alex from Target fans out there. The merch is sold on the online marketplace called Redbubble. There is an array of items to choose from, from the original red T-shirt with the Alex from Target name tag to a shirt that reads “Mrs. Alex from Target.” There is even a phone case that has a checkmark next to the words “Waiting for Alex from Target.”
When Alex first became famous, his parents, Marci and Eric Fooks, said that they were extremely worried about their son’s sudden rise to fame. The family admitted that not all the attention they received was positive, and that the whole family quickly saw the dark side to Alex’s new intense popularity. Mr. and Mrs. Fooks claim that it got so bad that they even received threats after their personal information, including Social Security numbers, bank accounts, and phone records were leaked.
Alex has certainly been making the most out of his online celebrity status, and has recently become a social media spokesperson for Heardbeats, a company that brings live musical concerts in real time through virtual reality. Alex frequently promotes the new company on his Twitter page, by posting videos trying to convince others to sign up. He also has promoted products on his Instagram page such as the weight-loss and detox tea, Lyfe Tea.