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'Fiji Water Girl' Kelleth Cuthbert on What It Feels Like to Become the First Meme of 2019

Last updated: 01-10-2019

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'Fiji Water Girl' Kelleth Cuthbert on What It Feels Like to Become the First Meme of 2019

At this year's Golden Globes, the biggest story wasn't who was snubbed or which celebrities were dressed the best. (Although we do have thoughts on that.) No, the night was all about Kelleth Cuthbert, the 30-something woman caught photobombing several celebrities on the red carpet while holding a tray of Fiji Water. If you've looked at any red carpet photos from the 2019 Golden Globes, you've definitely seen her:

Dubbed "Fiji Water Girl," the memes quickly came flooding in about the mysterious woman with the excellent photobombing skills. "If Bradley Cooper doesn't bring the Fiji girl out on stage to perform 'Shallow' with him I'm turning this show off," one new fan wrote on Twitter. "FYI: I have already written 200 pages of the Fiji Water girl's inner monologue tonight," said another. A star truly was born.

The memes were fun, but we had questions. Mainly, how did this all come together? And what's Cuthbert's story? What does it feel like to reach sudden Internet fame just for standing there?

We were able to track down Cuthbert after the red carpet, once she was off the clock and had changed out of her signature blue dress (to match Fiji Water's bottle cap color, of course) and into jeans. Turns out, she's a model and actress in her early thirties, married, and from Toronto but currently living in Los Angeles. Cuthbert used to be a social worker in Canada, specializing in mental health and addictions counseling, while modeling on the side. She was going to apply for grad school, but the modeling work was going so well she decided to take a year off and fully commit to it. She never went back.

In the years since, she's done commercials, PSAs, short films, and worked modeling gigs at other award shows, but this is by far the biggest exposure. Cuthbert tells Glamour she's confused and overwhelmed by all the attention, though she thinks it's hilarious. "I do love a good meme, so I think it’s incredibly ironic and funny that I’m one now," she says. "The first meme of 2019, apparently! My husband is laughing very hard about all of this."

"This is something I would go viral for," she jokes. "I feel like I’ve been photobombing people since I was a kid."

Cuthbert says it took a while for her to realize something was happening. "A couple people came up to me and were like, ‘FIJI’s going viral,’" she says, but she assumed it was about all of the women there for Fiji. "I thought maybe I'm in the background of a couple shots."

But more and more strangers started coming up to her to tell her she had become A Thing. Others asked for selfies (no celebrities though, womp). Hours later, when she finally went on break, she looked at her phone and saw hundreds of texts and DMs from people. Her Instagram following the morning of the Globes was 53,000; now, it's at 76,300 at press time. "One of my print agents tagged me in a meme of myself," she says, with a laugh. "I called my mom on my break, and she was already laughing when she picked up the phone. My parents are not very hip to things going on, so the fact that they had already received this information says a lot about how viral it already went."

When Cuthbert woke up that morning, she certainly didn't expect Internet stardom. This was just a side gig in between modeling and acting. She did her own hair and makeup before the event, though, "I wish now that I hadn’t chosen to sleep in a little longer. I thought, 'I don’t need to put that much effort into myself...no one’s really going to see me.'" Yeahhh, that didn't happen.


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