It always helps to see the humor in any given situation. Estefanía Vanegas Pessoa, better known as Tefi, strives to embody this mentality. “I think comedy is always asking the question, ‘I’m not alone in this, right?’ in different words. It’s something I use to keep my momentum going. If I can laugh at something and appreciate its absurdity, I can face it and eventually get past it.” It’s clearly effective, because she has more than a million people laughing right along with her on TikTok. She is deeply emotionally invested in rooting for her fellow human. Her affinity for pop culture reflects this adoration. “At the end of the day, pop culture is about people. I love people. I love watching people try and succeed, I love watching people defeat the odds, I love watching people get back on their feet again. Pop culture is a way for us as a society to look at ourselves and appreciate ourselves for growing. I would like to say my career is all about encouraging self-awareness and being able to laugh at ourselves.” She’s one of the most visible Latinx creators. “It’s something I’m really proud of and I hope that I can use my platform to uplift other Latinx creators as well.” To other first-generation Latina Americans like herself, Tefi spreads her arms wide, and offers support. “We were always good enough. There is just too much pressure. But we are good enough. We are deserving of patience and kindness. There’s a lot of ego around suffering and trauma, and Latinos have seen a lot of that, but there’s also a lot of joy, laughter, and tradition. We get to create new ones with our families now. I am really proud of us.”
Tefi’s talents are being recognized in other arenas as well. She hosts MTV’s latest competition series, Merch Masters. The job was made for her. “Hosting is like being a mama. You set the timing, the pace, the rules, and the tone. Whoever you’re hosting is safe with you. I try to make everything I do feel welcoming and also ridiculous. I always tell people, ‘I feel like the world is my dinner party and I am the host.’” In a culmination of self-confidence, she’s decided to pivot to other opportunities in Hollywood. You have to be your own biggest supporter. “For the first time in my life, I think I can really do this. I feel like I can do anything if I just focus. For so long, I was waiting for someone to tell me I was talented. But then one day, I just decided I was, and I decided anyone would be lucky to have me on their team. I like to call it a grounded delusion. Delusional enough to land the gig, but never delusional enough to treat the people around me poorly.” As can be expected, humor is her happy place. Funny follows her everywhere. “I really enjoy dark comedies. I would like to have an audience grow with me and laugh with me.” Her primary aim is to use her success to reinvest in the community. “I have dreams of opening youth centers, investing in already established family-owned tequila brands, creating scholarships, opening playhouses, paying for immigration lawyers, creating programs where new immigrants can learn about local transportation and job fairs, getting the people to the polls, hosting and funding creative workshops, opening shelters and STD clinics. I want everyone to know that a Latin girl from Miami did it. Maria Jose’s daughter did it.” Tefi is all but unstoppable.