The glamour, the tragedies and the scandals: Ariana Grande celebrates 30

Her mother believed she would grow up to be a serial killer, record labels rejected her, but she never gave up on her dream; Ariana Grande welcomes a new decade in her life, and we’re here to applaud her amazing journey – while also reflecting on all the dramas she encountered along the way, and there’s even a Jewish angle!

It seems like just yesterday we watched Ariana Grande in her debut role on the Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious, but without realizing it, 15 years have passed. The superstar, who has since released dozens of hits and famously said “Thank u, next” to many broken hearts, will celebrate her 30th birthday on Monday.

As the songstress welcomes a new decade, we embarked on a nostalgic journey through her life – from her big breakthrough, through the ex that left us too soon due to an overdose, to the criticism she received about her appearance. We promise you that by the end, the singer’s timeless phrase, “no tears left to cry”, will hit different. I mean, seriously… how many tragedies can one person go through?

אריאנה גרנדה

Nice to meet you, Ariana
Ariana Grande-Butera was born on June 26, 1993, in Boca Raton, Florida. She is the daughter of Edward Butera, a graphic designer, and Joan Grande, the CEO of a large communications company. They separated when she was nine years old.
 
Her name was inspired by the character of Princess Oriana from the animated series Felix the Cat. She has one half-brother, dancer and actor Frankie Grande, who’s ten years her senior.
 
Grande was diagnosed in her childhood with hypoglycemia, a condition characterized by low blood sugar levels, which required her to consume sweets to maintain her energy. She studied at Pine Crest School and actively participated in community theater. She received her first role in the play Annie and took part in other musicals such as The Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast.
אריאנה גרנדה
Despite Grande’s princess-like appearance, it was not apparent during her childhood that singing was her destined path.
 
Describing herself as “a very weird little girl,” Grande told Billboard in a 2014 interview, “I always wanted to have skeleton face paint on or be wearing a Freddy Krueger mask, and I would carry a hockey stick around. I was like a mini-Helena Bonham Carter… For my fifth birthday party we had a Jaws theme and all my friends left crying. I mean, I still am that way.
 
‘Who is going to buy a 14-year-old’s R&B album?!’
 
In 2001, eight-year-old Grande sang in a karaoke room where singer Gloria Estefan happened to be a guest. Impressed by the young girl’s talent, Estefan told her parents she possessed all the qualities and skills to become a star.
Ariana and her parents heeded the advice, and she began singing for various ensembles and even made her first appearance on national TV singing the U.S. national anthem. In 2005, she starred in the musical 13 and received the Best Featured Actress award from the National Youth Theatre Association.
 
 
However, the path to success was not without obstacles. When she was 14, Grande auditioned for different record labels but was rejected by all of them. “I remember when I first came to L.A. to meet with my managers, I was like, ‘I want to make an R&B album,’” recalls Grande in the Billboard interview. “They were like, ‘um, that’s a helluva goal! Who is going to buy a 14-year-old’s R&B album?!’

אריאנה גרנדה על השטיח האדום בטקס הגראמי, 2020

Nevertheless, she didn’t have to wait long for her big breakthrough, which came in 2009. At the age of 15, Grande was cast in the series Victorious, where she portrayed the character of Cat Valentine.
 
After the first season concluded, she decided it was time to pursue her music career. She recorded herself singing songs by iconic artists such as Adele, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, and uploaded her covers to YouTube. Like in a story taken out of a fairy tale, it paid off: The CEO of Republic Records noticed her videos, was deeply impressed by her talent, and signed her to a contract.
 
In December 2010, Grande released her debut single Put Your Hearts Up (which she later admitted she didn’t like that much), and two years later, she released her virgin album, Yours Truly, which went on to sell 138,000 copies in its first week and debuted at number one on the Billboard album chart.
This marked the beginning of a successful and fruitful music career, which included numerous hit songs and chart-topping albums and led to collaborations with musicians such as rapper Mac Miller (remember that name, we’ll come back to it later), Ryan Tedder, Nicki Minaj and Jessie J.
 
She was also named Favorite Breakthrough Artist at the People’s Choice Awards and ranked first on Billboard’s Top 100 list – the first woman to earn that honor.
 
Even then-U.S. President Barack Obama couldn’t remain indifferent to the burgeoning talent and invited her to perform at a special concert at the White House. And that was just the beginning.
 
Hanging out with demons and licking doughnuts
Like many young stars who took their first steps in showbiz at a young age (hi, Justin Bieber), it was only a matter of time before fame brought scandals and some really bizarre statements with it.
אריאנה גרנדה
In 2013, Grande told Complex magazine that she encountered spirits after visiting a cemetery in Kansas City. “I felt this sick, overwhelming feeling of negativity over the whole car and we smelled sulfur, which is the sign of a demon, and there was a fly in the car randomly, which is another sign of a demon,” she said.
 
“I was like, ‘This is scary, let’s leave.’ I rolled down the window before we left and said, ‘We apologize. We didn’t mean to disrupt your peace.’ Then I took a picture and there are three super distinct faces in the picture—they’re faces of textbook demons.” She said that she later deleted the photo after “weird things started happening” to her.
 
Grande, who was raised Catholic, is no stranger to the occult and has also explored Jewish mysticism. In a 2014 interview, the singer told The Telegraph that she and her brother, who has faced criticism for being homosexual, took up Kabbalah, and even attributed her smashing success to the Jewish mystical practice.
 
“When my brother was told that God didn’t love him I was like, ‘OK, that’s not cool.’ They were building a Kabbalah center in Florida so we both checked it out and really had a connection with it,” she said. “And since then my life has unfolded in a really beautiful way, and I think that it has a lot to do with the tools I’ve learned through Kabbalah, I really do.”
 
אריאנה גרנדה.
 
As we were still recovering from her encounter with wicked spirits, the star managed to stir up another controversy. In 2014, a close associate of the singer revealed that she doesn’t much appreciate her fans.
An industry insider told the New York Daily News that while visiting a New York radio station, “She did autographs and pics and was all smiles until she got into the elevator, and as soon as the doors shut she said, ‘I hope they all f***ing die’.”
 
The fan incident occurred shortly after Grande stormed out of a meet-and-greet in Sidney because she reportedly didn’t like the way she was being photographed. Before the shoot, her camp is said to have told photographers, “Don’t use natural light” and “Do shoot only from the left side of her face.” One reporter said she was “a total nightmare” to work with.
 
Fast forward to 2015, and we’re about to kill any craving you may have had for doughnuts in a second: Ariana and three friends were caught on a doughnut shop’s security camera licking an entire tray of jelly doughnuts they did not pay for and laughing. Up until this point, it could have passed quietly, if it weren’t for Grande also interjecting, “What the f*ck is that? I hate Americans. I hate America.”
 
Of course, the hatred wasn’t one-sided. The audience and the media turned against her, and the pastry chain boycotted her, announcing that she was no longer allowed to enter any of their stores.
In November 2015, Grande was invited to appear on the Jonathan Ross Show, but bailed at the last moment. “We were told she would be in the car at 6pm to be here for 7pm then it got to 7pm and she was not in the car – 7.30pm and she is still not in the motherf***ing car. So I don’t think we can hold out much hope,” Ross told the disappointed audience. “She was booked but the lazy little f***er has not come.”
Grande never apologized for her behavior, but in later interviews, she addressed her negative diva image and said, “If you see a woman working hard who is successful – who doesn’t stop until she reaches her goal, who is strong and has wishes and dreams she wants to fulfill, and who works hard every day – you label them a diva,” she ranted. “But if you see a man doing that, you’re like, ‘He’s incredible, he’s an amazing businessman’.”
Manchester concert bombing
On May 22, 2017, a horrifying terrorist attack in Britain resulted in the deaths of 22 people and injured an additional 59. The blast occurred outside the Manchester Arena after an Ariana Grande concert, attended by approximately 20,000 spectators. Authorities confirmed it was a suicide bombing, and the assailant was found dead at the scene.

אריאנה גרנדה

Mourners leave flowers and signs outside Manchester Arena after deadly suicide bombing
(Photo: Christopher Furlong/GettyImages)
Just after the attack, Grande tweeted: “from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”
Following the tragedy, Grande canceled five shows in Europe, and a month later, she organized a special charity concert in Manchester to support the victims. The event featured artists such as Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Bono, Liam Gallagher, Robbie Williams and others. The concert was broadcast in over 50 countries and raised a total of 17 million euros, leading the city of Manchester to honor Ariana as an “honorary citizen.”

אריאנה גרנדה

Miley Cyrus embracing Grande at charity Manchester concert following deadly suicide bombing
(Photo: Dave Hogan/GettyImages)
Thank U, Next: Ariana’s love life
Despite her young age, Ariana Grande’s romantic life has been filled with quite a few dramas. To ease your curiosity, we’ll give you a spoiler and mention that she is currently living happily with her husband of the past two years Dalton Gomez. But what led up to their picture-perfect relationship?
Ariana’s first serious partner was Graham Phillips, or as we like to call him, Zach Florrick from The Good Wife. The two met while starring together in the musical 13 in 2008 and were together until 2011.

אריאנה גרנדה

Grande and Graham Phillips
(Photo: John Lamparski/GettyImages)
Less than a year after their breakup, Ariana sought solace in the comforting arms of Jai Brooks. However, after a year of dating, they parted ways, and he accused Grande of cheating on him with singer Nathan Sykes. “Yes I was cheated on. Yes it does suck. Yes I was left for another man,” Brooks tweeted.

אריאנה גרנדה

Jai Brooks
(Photo: Mary Clavering/GettyImages)
Grande, on her end, responded resolutely to Brooks’ accusations. “Woke up this morning in complete and utter shock… I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised…You said to me if I didn’t come back to you, you’d make me look bad to the entire world… I’m no longer afraid of you or your lies anymore,” she tweeted. It’s worth noting that despite the drama, the two got back together in May 2014 but separated again just three months later.
Unsurprisingly, a few days after her first breakup with Brooks, Grande began dating Sykes, but their relationship was particularly short-lived. According to their close circles, the reason for this was that “they could barely see each other.”

אריאנה גרנדה

Grande and Nathan Sykes
(Photo: Uri Schanker/GettyImages)
Afterward, she went on to date rapper Big Sean, but the start of their relationship was accompanied by a small scandal when his then-fiancée, actress Naya Rivera, who starred in Glee and passed away in July 2020, revealed that she found him and Ariana spending time together at their home while they were still engaged.

אריאנה גרנדה

Grande and Big Sean
(Photo: Jon Kopaloff/GettyImages)
Grande and the rapper parted ways eight months later in April 2015, and he even got a mention in her song Thank U, Next, where she sings, “Thought I’d end up with Sean / But he wasn’t a match.”
Following that breakup, she embarked on a brief summer romance with Ricky Alvarez, one of her backup dancers. She told Billboard magazine that she was “very happy,” but despite that, they separated just two months later.

אריאנה גרנדה

Grande and Ricky Alvarez
(Photo: Robino Salvatore/GettyImages)
But here the plot thickens: In August 2016, Grande began dating rapper Mac Miller. The two met when they worked together on the hit song The Way, but they parted ways two years later in May 2018. “I respect and adore him and am grateful to have him in my life in any form,” the singer wrote in an Instagram post after the breakup.

אריאנה גרנדה

Grande and Mac Miller
(Photo: GC/GettyImages)
Less than a month after their split, Grande got engaged – yes, you read that correctly – to comedian Pete Davidson, whom she started dating shortly after she and Miller parted ways.
But tragedy dampened the budding relationship: Three months after announcing their engagement in September 2018, Miller was found dead in his home from an overdose.
His fans quickly blamed Grande for his death, and in response, she disabled comments and eulogized him: “I adored you from the day I met you when I was nineteen, and I always will. I can’t believe you aren’t here anymore. I really can’t wrap my head around it. We talked about this. So many times. I’m so mad, I’m so sad I don’t know what to do. You were my dearest friend. For so long. Above anything else. I’m so sorry I couldn’t fix or take your pain away. I really wanted to. The kindest, sweetest soul with demons he never deserved. I hope you’re okay now. Rest.”

אריאנה גרנדה

Grande and Pete Davidson
(Photo: Nicholas Hunt/GettyImages)
A month after Miller’s death, Grande called off her engagement to Davidson. Sources close to the former couple told TMZ they had “split this weekend, with both parties acknowledging that it simply was not the right time for their relationship to take off.”
Davidson took the breakup hard and posted a troubling message. “[I] really don’t want to be on this earth anymore. I’m doing my best to stay here for you but [I] actually don’t know how much longer I can last. [A]ll [I]’ve ever tried to do was help people. [J]ust remember I told you so,” he wrote, earning him a visit from the police.
Grande reached out to the comedian through her Twitter account and wrote, “I’m not going anywhere if you need anyone or anything. I know [you] have everyone [you] need and that’s not me, but [I]’m here too.”

 
(Photo: Mega)
Many users expressed anger at her response and wondered why she didn’t contact Davidson personally. She replied that she didn’t have his phone number and that this was the only way she could reach out to him.
But here’s the happy ending: In December 2020, after ten months together, Grande got engaged to businessman Dalton Gomez.

אריאנה גרנדה ודלטון גומז

Grande and Dalton Gomez
(Photo: via Instagram)
The couple tied the knot five months later in a small and intimate ceremony held at their home, and People magazine reported, “It was tiny and intimate — less than 20 people. The room was so happy and full of love. The couple and both families couldn’t be happier.”
‘Many different ways’ to look healthy and beautiful
In recent months, Grande has made headlines for different reasons after receiving criticism about her appearance, specifically for looking extremely thin.
 

 
 
 

 

Grande talks about her weight

A source close to Grande said the singer has always been on diets but has now “taken it to extremes.” “She subsists on the bare minimum – like smoothies, kale, seeds, nuts, broccoli and tofu,” the source added. “It’s gotten to the point where her shoulder blades are poking out. There’s very little flesh on her figure.”
Photos of the singer from the set of the movie Wicked, in which she stars, have led internet users to criticize gaunt her appearance. Grande responded, saying there are “many different ways” to look healthy and beautiful, adding that people should be less comfortable commenting on others’ bodies.
“Healthy, unhealthy, big, small, this, that, sexy, not sexy, I don’t… We just shouldn’t. We should really work towards not doing that as much,” she said.

אריאנה גרנדה

 
(Photo: Dave Kotinsky/GettyImages)
If we set aside the weight issue and believe Ariana when she says she genuinely takes care of her health and knows what’s best for her, it appears that the singer has finally found her place.
After all, she is only 30 years old, and her past is filled with more turbulence and tragedies than most of us can imagine. Therefore, all we can hope for is that she is happy and no longer licks pastries for fun. We wish you good health, both physically and mentally, Ariana!
 
 

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