Ariana Grande has been unbelievably popular over the last few months, and her success has made me ask some important questions. How is she so talented? Why didn’t I buy tickets to her concert before it sold out? And, most importantly, who are all these people she’s constantly hanging out with? How did they meet her? How can I become a part of this group? Seriously, one of my biggest regrets in life is that I’m not one of Ariana Grande’s friends.
In her recent videos for “thank u, next” and “7 rings,” Ariana Grande has basically turned her friends into celebrities by association. She’s even tweeted about how all her fans should follow them. Some of them are childhood friends, while others are newer collaborators. Oh, and they’re all hot, lol. If you’ve found yourself spending hours stalking all of these people on Instagram, but never known who they truly are, here’s a guide to all of Ariana Grande’s friends.
Of all of the frequent faces in Ariana Grande’s crew, Liz Gillies is probably the most recognizable. She’s the second one from the right, btw, and if you’re squinting at her because you swear she looks familiar, it’s because she was on Victorious. These days, she’s best known for starring in the Dynasty reboot (or playing Cady Heron in the “thank u, next” video, see above), but she’s known Ariana for more than 10 years. In 2008, they were both in the Broadway cast of 13, which means I’ve idolized Liz Gillies since I was in middle school. She has an actual career, so she’s not constantly hanging out at Ariana’s apartment like some of these people, but she’s usually around when it matters.
As you probably know by now, Ariana’s song “7 rings” was inspired by a time when she got drunk and bought diamond rings for her six best friends at Tiffany & Co. When I get drunk, my friends won’t even buy me an entree at Waffle House, smh. The first person with a ring is Alexa Luria, who has over 600k Instagram followers thanks to her best friend status with Ariana. Lexie grew up with Ariana in Florida, and they’ve been friends for almost 20 years. These days, she basically travels the world taking pics for her food Instagram, so like, same.
Much like Alexa, Courtney Chipolone has been around since the beginning, because they were childhood friends. Actually, Ariana has said she and Courtney are cousins, but no one actually knows if they’re related. This definitely seems like something Ariana would say as a joke one time and then the fans never forget it. But whatever, you’d be lying if you said you didn’t have that one family friend who you call your cousin for simplicity purposes and now everyone thinks you’re actually related. Courtney is a student at Florida State, and she keeps it pretty low-key when she’s not hanging out with Ariana.
One of the main men in Ariana’s crew, Doug Middlebrook, has been Ariana Grande’s friend since at least 2014. He and Ari are constantly hanging out, but he also literally works for her. He’s involved in the production and management side of things, and was the tour and production manager for Ariana’s One Love Manchester benefit in 2017. He’s also the voice you hear talking at the beginning of “In My Head” on Ariana’s latest album.
Out of all the ladies in Ariana’s crew, Tayla Parx probably has my favorite origin story. Last month, my friend and I were hungover AF and decided to watch Hairspray (it’s still amazing btw). Little did I know, the girl who played Little Inez is TAYLA PARX. Well, back then she was just “Taylor Parks,” but still, good for her on the successful rebrand and career. My hungover mind was blown, and I immediately texted like 12 people about this. These days, she’s a v successful songwriter, and she’s also starting to release music of her own.
Much like Tayla Parx, Victoria Monét is a songwriter who’s worked with Ariana Grande on a lot of her recent songs, and she also has a performing career of her own. In the past, she’s toured with Fifth Harmony and Ariana as an opening act, but I would imagine her solo stuff will be getting a lot more attention now that Ariana is like, the biggest star in the world. She is also truly so pretty, like, it’s not fair.
Rounding out the fellowship of the 7 rings is Njomza Vitia. Easily identifiable by her icy-blue wig, Njomza is—you guessed it—a songwriter who also releases solo music of her own! It’ll be really interesting to see which of the women in this group is successful in their solo careers, because they’ve all gotten a lot of opportunities from being so close to Ariana. Njomza is from Albania, and became a U.S. citizen when she was 16. Her music is really cool, and I have a feeling she’s gonna be big.
So yeah, if you’re interested in becoming one of Ariana Grande’s friends, I guess you have two options: you can either go back in time and grow up with her in Florida, or become an incredibly talented songwriter. Oh well, not like I wanted to hang out with her anyway.
Images: Shutterstock; @lizgillz, @lexie1225, @courtneychipolone, @dougmiddlebrook, @taylaparx, @victoriamonet, @notnjomza / Instagram