HomeAPRIL 2024Montana Tucker

Montana Tucker

Special interview with the Jewish-American dancer and internet sensation Montana Tucker following her unforgettable appearance on the red carpet at the Grammys. Who designed her abundantly talked-about dress, her visit to Israel during wartime, and a tip from her on how Israel can win the war in the eyes of social media audiences.

Montana Tucker grew up in the entertainment industry. At the age of 6, her parents knew she was born to be in front of the camera. Initially, they were concerned about allowing her to pursue it professionally, but when she showed no signs of giving up they supported her all the way. Today, Montana lives in the Florida Keys, with her mother Michelle as her personal manager guiding her every step of her career.
    The Jewish-American TikTok star is more than a triple threat—a dancer, actress, model, and social media influencer with over 12 million followers across various platforms. With her significant internet presence, she has voiced unequivocal support for Israel. Alongside her lighthearted and amusing posts where she dances to bright pop tunes from stars like Britney Spears, NSYNC, and Michael Jackson, she also shares posts supporting Israel, raising awareness about the events of October 7th and speaking out against anti-Semitism in the United States.
    At the festive Grammy evening last week, Montana’s voice reached its highest peak when she walked the red carpet in a stunning dress with a giant yellow ribbon with “Bring them home” inscribed at its center, and a Star of David necklace around her neck. The special dress with its prominent message made headlines in major newspapers and news channels worldwide.
    During our interview, Tucker shared that she couldn’t attend such a big and globally televised event without raising the issue of all those who have been kidnapped. Tucker said, “I was born to grandparents who were Holocaust survivors. From a young age, I heard stories about concentration camps in Germany and antisemitism in Europe during World War II. Jews there had no voice, and there was no one to defend them. I have a voice, and I knew I had to use it. It’s important for me to leverage the platform I have not only for dancing and fun, but also to support Israel.”
Elad: How did your love story with Israel begin?
Montana: “Well, first of all, I’m Jewish, and I have friends and family who are Israeli both here and in Israel. I visited Israel for the first time 11 years ago, and it was a very good experience. Last December, I returned to Israel to support our people there. Many friends here said to me, ‘Don’t go, it’s dangerous there, there’s a war.’ They were tense about me flying to the country, but I didn’t care. I felt I had to visit Israel at this time.”

Elad: And how was the visit?
Montana: “It was very powerful. I met with three recently released captives. I met with the families of the captives whose loved ones are still in Gaza in Hamas captivity. I visited Kibbutz Kfar Aza, I attended a special memorial exhibition they held for the victims of terrorism at the Nova Festival, and I even met President Herzog. It was so moving, I cried a lot, I didn’t want to leave Israel. I can’t wait to go back for another visit.”
 
Elad: Was there a particular moment during the visit that touched you deeply?
Montana: “I met a survivor from the Nova Festival. Her name is Noa, and she simply saw her friend murdered in front of her in a terrorist attack. She was severely injured and is now in the process of rehabilitation in a wheelchair. What touched me deeply was seeing how Israelis deal with trauma, how they rise and continue forward with a lot of love and pride. I spoke with my grandparents, Holocaust survivors, about this strength that the Jewish people have. They told me that what is common to all Jews around the world is that despite the difficult things we go through over the years, we deal with everything and continue forward.”

Elad: Why does it seem like Israel lost the battle on social media?
Montana: “Even before October 7th, there was a lot of hatred towards Jews and towards the State of Israel. The problem is that there is so much misinformation on social media and online. When so many people use hashtags like #Hitlerwasright or #OsamabinLadenwasright or #Fromtherivertothesea all the videos go viral. In most cases, those behind them are kids sitting in their rooms at home who have no idea what’s going on. But they create videos that are circulated all over the internet, and the general public just believes them. They’re not like me or other Israelis. I went to Auschwitz, I flew to Poland, I know the true story and know how to ignore misinformation. Most people don’t have this knowledge. They see videos and believe them. That’s why we see people denying the Holocaust even though there is plenty of living evidence that the Holocaust happened, may G-d preserve us, there are still Holocaust survivors living among us.”

Elad: So, what’s the solution?
Montana: “We need to continue talking about what’s happening, sharing the truth on social media, but targeting audiences who are not Jewish and not in favor of us to try and change their opinions. That’s the real influence. We need to tell the personal stories of people who have been murdered and who suffer from antisemitism, to really show names and faces so people can connect with them. We need to invite more influential guests to Israel so they can understand and see for themselves what’s going on in our country and spread their experiences worldwide.”

Elad: What was the genesis of your support for Israel with the dress at the Grammys last week that made a lot of headlines? How did it all begin?
Montana: “When I received the invitation to the Grammys, I was so excited! For me, being invited to the Grammys and walking the red carpet is a great and amazing experience. With this joy, I knew I had to do something for the captives; I knew no one else would. I thought to myself, ‘what am I wearing?’ and I called an excellent designer I know. Her name is Ortal, and she is Israeli. Her brand is MadebyILA, and I asked her ‘what can we do to represent the captives and convey a message to the huge audience at the Grammys?’ We sat together with my makeup artist also called Ortal, and together we built the plan. We designed the dress with the big yellow ribbon for the captives, but huge. Many people were upset and told me it was too political, but I don’t care.
    Even Harvey Mason Jr., the head of the Grammys Academy, stood up and said things; he talked about the captives and mentioned the terrorist attack at the Nova Festival. I received a lot of feedback on the red carpet, but mainly I hope I opened the subject, and in future events, more people will be involved.”

Elad: You dance to songs of many famous artists and wear outfits like some of them. Which artist do you especially love?
Montana: “I love Beyoncé the most; she is a giant. Jay-Z’s speech at the Grammys was crazy (the rapper criticized the academy for never awarding Beyoncé album of the year). But I understand why he defended his wife. She works so hard and has won more Grammys than any other artist, how could she not win Album of the Year? But the truth is, she’s such a giant that she really doesn’t need those awards.
    I also really love Michael Jackson. He’s an inspiration for everything I do. I had the opportunity to work with his production company and also with the people who perform in his Broadway show. His sister Janet Jackson posted my videos on her page.”

Elad: What is your dream?
Montana: “My dream is to do a world tour. To perform and meet as many people as possible. To influence as many people as possible about what’s happening in Israel. I want to help the Jewish people fight against all issues of hatred and antisemitism. You know, I was just at the premiere of Bob Marley’s new movie, and I really liked his message. The movie is called ‘One Love’ and it talks about peace and brotherhood among all people around the world. That’s my message to this world and it’s so relevant in today’s times. And to the Israelis here and in Israel, I want to say stay strong. You are the strongest people I’ve ever met in the world, and I hope we can make a larger audience support you. I’m here to help always. The Grammys are just the beginning.”   

Elad Massuri is a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.

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