Influencer Lindsey Pelas Talks Reality TV, Standing Up For Women, And Investing In Sugar Taco - Exclusive Interview

You might know Lindsey Pelas as a model and social media influencer, but she's so much more than that. In 2019, Pelas became a reality TV star when she appeared on the first season of The Hills: New Beginnings when she was dating Justin Bobby, and she hosts the podcast Eyes Up Here, which, as of this writing, is about to enter its third season. 

Aside from her adventures in the entertainment industry, Pelas is an investor in the all-female owned and operated vegan restaurant Sugar Taco, and she has a history degree from Louisiana State University. In fact, Pelas is extremely proud of her alma mater, and she even defended her school's decision to previously use a live tiger as a mascot. During a 2015 interview with TMZ Sports, she explained, "They've only had tigers that were, like, bred in captivity already. So, they've only rescued tigers from unfortunate conditions. So, they've kind of provided these amazing health care opportunities."

Nicki Swift caught up with Pelas via Zoom to discuss her impressive social media presence, her forthcoming acting projects, the causes she's passionate about outside of modeling and what that 2017 interview with Eric Andre was really like.

Bye, haters! Lindsey Pelas is focused on her 'core group' of fans

You have almost nine million Instagram followers. How does it feel to have that many fans, and are you inundated with messages?

Oh my gosh, yes. So, having that many followers, it's kind of weird because what I've learned the last year is, you can have 10 million people follow you, but you might have 5,000 that really care. So as much as it's nice that people are looking, I don't know, I always just think about that core group. And I have no idea how many that is. So I don't know, I'm just always thinking with them in mind, but there's definitely a lot of messaging. It would be virtually impossible to answer every message. And that is really... that bothers me a little bit because I hate leaving someone on read or make them think I didn't want to talk to them, but it's just, it's literally impossible.

Well, you can't message back thousands of people.

That's why I like Twitter too. Twitter is so, it's easy to use. You just see messages and you reply or you don't. That's why I love Twitter.

We noticed that you've got a lot of clapbacks and takedowns on Twitter, especially of haters and shaming culture. Is that intentional or is that just because you come across a lot of trolls?

It's definitely not intentional. It's kind of just natural. I have a very specific look, which I totally understand, but with that look comes a very specific stereotype and sometimes I'm just, I'm wowed by... honestly I'm just wowed by the stupidity of others. And I just have to make a comment on it every now and then. It's insane that humans are so smart and we've come so far in life, but we still spend our precious minutes and hours making fun of each other in a cruel way. I love roasting and I love a good joke, but people being cruel to one another, I think is the biggest waste of human energy that we have and it drives me mad.

There's just no need for it. Why should you put up with that hate all the time? 

Yeah. It's just, we could be having so much fun with each other. Why be mean?

Lindsey Pelas is leaving 'The Hills' behind

A lot of our readers would have seen you on The Hills: New Beginnings, when you were dating Justin Bobby. And we wanted to find out if you're in the next season, or if reality TV is something you might go back to?

I have no idea. I'm not in the new season. It was definitely a point of contention with Justin [Bobby] and I. So I have no idea what they're doing. I can only wish them the most riveting season possible. But yeah, reality is really fun. It's been fun. A lot of people, I've actually filmed a nice amount of pilots for pretty serious brands and pretty serious networks. So I've had a lot of trial goes with reality TV and I used to really be interested in it, but I might be getting to that point where I don't know, because it... I don't like the idea of being edited in a way that I don't prefer.

Because you don't know how they're going to portray you, do you?

Yeah. And you know what? As fun as reality TV is, and I love to watch it, you go on reality TV probably to start your own business or maybe promote your own line or maybe hope for some endorsement deals. And I kind of have that already. So I'm not sure if I want to go fight on TV that bad, but I love to watch it. I really love to watch it. I'm a huge reality TV junkie.

Lindsey Pelas stands with victims of abuse

You recently showed your support for FKA Twigs and her accusations against Shia LaBeouf and you tweeted, "This is sadly all too familiar." We wanted to find out what your thoughts were about that, and if you've had any negative dating experiences that's coming from?

Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'm 29 years old and I'm unmarried and I've done my fair share of dating. And simply based on statistics alone, you could presume that I've probably dealt with my share of violent relationships or even some kind of control and struggle issues. I've definitely seen it myself and it's just horrible. And it's so timely with the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard situation. No one wins in domestic violence and it's especially courageous for a survivor to come out and say something, especially when the man is so powerful because people are so quick to not believe victims. And I know first hand, how alone you are when you deal with something like that. You can tell everyone that, you can go to therapy and not everyone is going to help you. It's just, it's a really difficult, silent, painful situation. And I just wish [FKA Twigs] all the best.

So often people side with the man, especially in the Johnny Depp situation, and that really frustrates me.

And it's just a lot of people will say, "Well, if you didn't call the cops the first time it happened, it never happened." But what a lot of people don't realize is there's a huge amount of domestic violence culture within law enforcement. And there's also predominantly men who respond to these calls and then they make the judgments on the cases. So, who do you trust? It's very scary. And a lot of times too, a lot of people don't remember that a victim really loves their partner; just because someone does something horrible to them, the love doesn't go away automatically. And so if your only option is to call the police and incarcerate someone, or suffer silently, a lot of people will choose the suffering silently because it is, some people would argue, the most empathetic choice. So it's really painful and I hate seeing victims so, just, smeared in the media, it's really sad.

Lindsey Pelas and Melania Trump have this in common

We saw that your Melania Trump-inspired shoot went viral and we wondered if you had any thoughts about the first lady or the president?

Oh my gosh, I have so many thoughts, but God, I would just like to leave those in 2020.

I thought you might.

But yeah, it's, "God, are we done yet?" I missed the days where people kind of cared a little bit less, but as far as the first ladies are concerned, political views aside, I really like first ladies and I don't think, I don't necessarily... I don't know. I'm very interested in them. I'm interested in Joe Biden and I'm interested in Melania Trump. I think they both play fascinating roles. And what I really did like about Melania, I liked that she was a glamour model. She has photo shoots just like me and I couldn't sit here and see that and think, "Well, that isn't a progress in some way."

How Lindsey Pelas went from an influencer to an investor

We wanted to ask you about your business, Sugar Taco, a vegan, all-female owned and operated restaurant. We wanted to find out how that's going, and whether you've been impacted by this year, because obviously coronavirus has been awful.

Yeah. It's been a really tough time and we've closed for many different reasons, many different times this year, but luckily we've been able to remain open for takeout. And while we were doing the outdoor dining, we have a really nice patio. So we were able to get away with it for a while. But we're just working with the restrictions in place and trying to keep everyone healthy and safe at the same time. So we're just abiding by everything that we're told to do. And we're actually opening up our second location this January. We have a Sugar Taco 2 that'll be opening in Sherman Oaks and it's going to be beautiful, and there's just going to be more Sugar Taco. We're just going to keep going. Pandemics and all.

Was it important to you that it was all female owned?

Yeah. You know our original founder, Jayde Nicole, she really liked the idea of women investors. She realized that not a lot of women had investing experience, myself included. And she worked in the restaurant industry for a long time and she just thought, "Let me get the girls involved." She knew a lot of female investors who would like to do it and I'm so happy she did, because it's so much fun.

Lindsey Pelas' appearance on 'The Eric Andre Show' was the 'weirdest thing'

We wanted to ask you about the Eric Andre interview...

Oh my God!

Was that the weirdest thing that's ever happened to you?

That is the weirdest thing that's ever happened to me in my entire life, I can solidly say. It was so weird. And I knew going on the show that the guests, everyone kind of sided with the guests in the discomfort of the show, you felt you're there every time you watched the guests. So I was, "Whatever, it's an experience." And I don't know if you saw, but did you see they dumped rice on my head at the end? And afterwards, I had to get in an Uber and I was covered in rice and I was, "You don't know what I've just been through."

You tweeted that you were "a little bourbon street monster who would sneak out and drink Long Islands with tourists until ungodly hours." Can you tell us more about this wild childhood that you had?

[Laughs] Yeah, for sure. So I grew up in Louisiana. It's the south, very rural America. So there's a lot of bonfires and four wheelers and it's a very specific culture, but we didn't really have kind of a city life where I grew up. I grew up in a dairy farm town. And when I turned 16, I knew the quickest way to party was to sneak to Bourbon Street and Bourbon Street is insane. So I would sneak to Bourbon Street and kind of weasel my way into nightclubs. And I knew that a Long Island had more alcohol than the other drinks. So I was, if I can get one drink, get the Long Island because then I can get drunker. And then, I spent a lot of teenage nights hanging out on Bourbon Street and I'm just thankful that somehow I was safe, because it gets wild down there.

That sounds fun though.

It was very fun.

The future looks busy for Lindsey Pelas

As well as being really popular on social media, you're also an actress and we wanted to find out if you have any TV series or movies coming up, or anything you're hoping to work on?

I do. I'm filming a movie in February [2021]. I have a role. I don't know how much I can tell you. I didn't even ask for permission, but I am filming something in February. And in the meantime, since quarantine has kind of shut everything down, I've been working on just doing creative skits with my friends to kind of keep the acting momentum going. So we've been doing all these funny skits. And right now we have some Christmas content coming out, where I do a little bit of acting, but it's, with everything closed, we might as well just make some movies and magic ourselves. So, that's what I've been working on until February.

Your podcast, "Eyes Up Here," is all about dispelling stereotypes about you and about other people. So is there anything you wish people knew about you that maybe they don't?

You know what? I don't want to shove it down their throat. Some people are comfortable with the perception of me because it makes their life easier to understand. So for those people, I don't want to bother them. If you want to keep thinking that I'm a big, dumb bimbo, whatever you got, go ahead, because I want you to live comfortably. But I think most people are surprised by the fact that, I hear a lot from friends that they're surprised that I'm nice, which is weird. They always say, "I'm so surprised you're so nice." And I'm, "Well, should I be an a******? Am I..." Maybe I shouldn't be so nice, because they're probably taking advantage.

Are there any other projects that you've got coming up that you want to mention or you think people should know about?

So I'll be doing a season three of Eyes Up Here. We'll be coming back in January [2021], which is going to be a ton of fun. And right now, I'm also selling my 2021 Girl on Girl calendar. It's my annual swimsuit calendar that we sell internationally. This year I've asked some of my hottest, most popular, supermodel friends of all time to be in it. So it's not just me. I'm really proud too, because I convinced my best friends to do the cover with me and they just look insane.