Nguyen Thi Thien Thanh, widely known as Tila Tequila, was born on 24th October 1981, in Singapore. The social media and TV personality built a large online following in the early 2000s, and starred in her own reality series after becoming the most popular person on Myspace.
Tila was raised in Houston, Texas, but moved to Los Angeles in 2001 to work on her modelling career. After featuring in Maxim, Playboy, and other men’s magazines, Tila’s reality TV debut came in 2003, when she appeared in the VH1 show “Surviving Nugent”. At the same time, Tila worked on music, and was the lead singer of Jealousy and Beyond Betty Jean before embarking on an ambitious solo career.
Despite not reaching the level of success she aimed for with the release of her debut single “I Love U”, Tila persevered with her following singles “Paralyze” and “Stripper Friends”. In 2008, she published her first book, “Hooking Up With Tila Tequila: A Guide to Love, Fame, Happiness, Success, and Being the Life of the Party”; two years later, she released “Welcome to the Dark Side”, her second EP.
Nevertheless, Tila’s career took a sharp nosedive after she was kicked off “Celebrity Big Brother” for her controversial white nationalist and antisemitic comments, as well as for supporting Adolf Hitler.
Tila’s family arrived to Singapore from Vietnam after the Vietnam War, fleeing by boat and ship along with thousands of other “boat people” during the migration and humanitarian crisis of the time. As a child, Tila was raised alongside her older siblings Daniel and Terri; in the early 1980s, the family was eventually taken in by a gated community run by a Buddhist temple, which they left when Tila was eight years old.
Tila’s unusual nickname was given to her by friends due to her reported allergy to alcohol. According to the online personality, she began writing poetry at a young age to cope with her emotions, and ran away to Queens, New York City, at the age of sixteen before returning home several months later. Tila also reportedly became pregnant and suffered a miscarriage during her mid-adolescent years.
In 2000, Tila graduated Alief Hastings High School and moved to California the next year. In an interview, the musician once revealed that she had taken college classes but didn’t have a degree, as the only thing that interested her was a career involving the entertainment industry.
Tila’s modelling career began when she was discovered by a “Playboy” scout at the age of 19 and offered the chance to do a nude shoot for the magazine. After a successful test shoot, she moved to Southern California and became the magazine’s Cybergirl of the Week and the first Asian Cyber Girl of the Month, as well as doing more shoots for the publication.
Aged 20, Tila assembled Beyond Betty Jean and acted as the rock band’s singer and songwriter. When Beyond Betty Jean broke up, Tila began writing music and working on her vocal skills in recording studios, later becoming the lead singer of Jealousy and releasing a few online singles with the band before it broke up. Furthering her music career, Tila participated in the reality show “Surviving Nugent”, which saw its contestants carry out complicated stunts and tasks for rocker Ted Nugent.
The import racing scene helped raise Tila’s profile considerably, as she featured in the video game “Street Racing Syndicate”, graced the cover of “Import Tuner” magazine, and was one of the top models at Hot Import Nights and other car shows. However, Tila’s local popularity skyrocketed thanks to Myspace, as she became one of the first online celebrities and helped change the landscape of the now-defunct social media platform and its successors.
Tila’s star continued to rise as she was one of the most frequent hosts on “Pants-Off Dance-Off”, a racy dance show which saw its contestants strip to popular music videos. In spring 2006, artist will.i.am confirmed that he had signed Tila to his Will.I.Am music group; despite his co-sign, Tila’s first single, “I Love U”, was independently released through iTunes in February 2007, as she wished to become famous without major label backing. As the single failed to chart, many consider that Tila’s efforts backfired.
In March 2007, Tila released an EP through record label The Saturday Team. The label and distributor, Icon Music Entertainment Services, reportedly sued Tila just four months later due to her alleged breach of contract, eventually winning the legal case.
“A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila” aired on MTV in October 2007. With 16 straight male and 16 lesbian participants, the show became the topic of a heated debate between Tila and conservative Christians. Nevertheless, the controversiality only helped make the show more popular, with the second season premiere airing in April 2008.
As we mentioned earlier, the late 2000s also saw Tila release her second and third official singles, which both failed to chart, and her self-help book.
2010s to Present Day
Tila reinvented her image in 2010 by changing her stage name to Miss Tila and releasing yet more raunchy singles under Little Miss Trendsetter, her newly established label. In May of the same year, she launched her celebrity gossip blog MissTilaOMG.com. A few months later, Tila was pelted with bottles, rocks, and other potentially dangerous objects during one of her tour stops at the Gathering of the Juggalos, a musical festival founded by Insane Clown Posse.
At the same time, an explicit sex tape featuring Tila was leaked online. Although the model tried to buy the tape back before its release, she reportedly failed to reach an agreement with Vivid Entertainment. From then on, the next few years were quiet ones for the reality TV star, as other online personalities took her spot; in the meantime, she spent time in rehab for her drug addiction and gave birth to her first daughter.
Tila made her big comeback in May 2015 after years of silence with an announcement of new music on the way. Mere months later, she began her short-lived “Celebrity Big Brother” journey and was booted out of the house after one day due to viewer complaints. The viewer complaints stemmed from 2013 Facebook posts of Tila praising Adolf Hitler and posting anti-Semitic comments; although the model apologized for the posts and blamed them on her depression and drug addiction, the damage was done, as she lost a large part of her already-dwindling fanbase.
Less than a year later, Tila tweeted that she wished to be the Asian version of Adolf Hitler and other inflammatory statements. In June 2016, she also accused Sarah Silverman of killing Jesus and claimed that the comedian was next on a celebrity sacrifice list.
As Tila’s antics failed to garner the same attention that they used to, she took things a step further by attending alt-right meetings, posting photos of herself doing Nazi salutes, and even claimed that the Earth was flat. Although at first there was genuine concern for Tila’s mental health and the wellbeing of her child, people soon lost interest and she became little more than an early 2000s relic.
These days, Tila maintains the same views that led to her being blacklisted from the entertainment industry. Despite being banned from Instagram and Twitter, the former TV personality has a YouTube channel in which she preaches to her followers and claims to be the “hidden bride of Christ”.
It remains unclear what Tila is doing to make money, but we do know that in 2019 she started a GoFundMe to raise $30,000 for the making of a gospel album. Unfortunately, Tila failed to reach the goal.