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How Bretman Rock went from beauty guru to cover model and reality TV star

One of the 23-year-old’s barrier-breaking milestones was becoming Playboy’s first gay male cover star.
NBC News; Getty Images

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From makeup tutorials to mukbang to reality TV, Bretman Rock has run the gamut of modern influencing. Known for his unique humor and authenticity, Rock, 23, of Hawaii, remains one of the internet’s biggest stars since he rose to internet fame in 2015.

Rock, who immigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii as a child, boasts nearly 9 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 18 million followers on Instagram as well as 14 million on TikTok.

Rock found virality as a beauty guru on YouTube and Vine in his teenage years through comedic rants, makeup videos and travel vlogs. He became one of the first male YouTubers to make his mark in a growing pool of online beauty influencers.

One of his first viral videos took viewers on a roller-coaster ride of raunchy commentary as he gave a tutorial on how to contour.

“I didn’t even think I was funny. I used to just talk on Snapchat, say random s---, and people thought it was funny,” he told The Philippine Star in 2016. “And I’m like, ‘Am I maybe funny?’”

At 19 years old, Rock was named one of Time’s 30 Most Influential Teens for 2017. There was “nobody on the internet more fabulous,” the magazine wrote. The next year, Forbes listed Rock in its annual 30 Under 30 Asia, recognizing him for his achievements in the world of digital content creation.

As the brand deals began rolling in, Rock has released makeup collections in collaboration with Morphe, Colourpop and, most recently, Wet n Wild.

“I’m gay, I’m an immigrant, I’m a POC and in 2020, I’m taking affordable beauty to the next level,” Bretman said in a news release about his Wet n Wild collection. “A makeup line by a man will be in-store across the globe. That’s my power. That’s OUR power.”

Having dominated the internet, Rock is dipping his toes into television. MTV early last year began airing “MTV Following: Bretman Rock,” a reality show centered on Rock’s personal life in Hawaii. Rock said in February 2021 that he doesn’t remember seeing anyone like him on TV growing up — especially as an immigrant from a low-income background.

“I know I’m not the only kid that moved to America and had to live with 30 cousins in one house,” Rock said. “I kind of just wanted to be like Manila and represent ... other immigrant kids coming to America with nothing but a dream.”

Rock broke boundaries in October as the first openly gay man to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine. Posing in a bunny suit complete with a corset, tights and a fluffy white tail, Rock told Playboy that the moment proves he can do anything.

“For Playboy to have a male on the cover is a huge deal for the LGBT community and for my brown people community. It’s surreal,” he said. “And I’m so pretty.”

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