Nikki Leonti is a singer-songwriter who created “For real,” that song you’ve been hearing (& singing along to) in all of our videos this season. Find out what inspired Nikki to write our new anthem & what makes her #AerieREAL… for real!

When did you start writing music?

I started writing music with my brother when we were only 12/13 years old. He had a keyboard that could program beats and he would give me music to write to. The music we created ended up helping me to get my first record deal. 

How would you describe your music?

My music always has a mix of soul, pop, throwback, dance…. I’m a pop music fanatic. Always have been one drawn to catchy anthems and sing-a-long hooks. 

What inspired you to write “For real?”

“For real” was something I had written in my writing journal. I collect thoughts and ideas that can potentially work into the music I’m working on. I wrote the title “For real” on one of the pages because I wanted to write something about being our true authentic selves. I think the era of airbrush is coming to an end and people are ready for what is real. That’s why I love what Aerie stands for. They’re leading the way in their ads… and breaking down walls.

#AerieREAL is about being true to who you are & empowering those around you to do the same. That’s why we love your song—it feels like a celebration of authenticity. What makes you #AerieREAL?

I connect to being #AerieREAL in a big way. Real attracts real… when you’re truly your authentic self, you’ll find YOUR people who want to do that with you because they connect to the real you. I’ve been keeping it as real as I can by staying true to myself and my story. As a woman who was once a teen mother trying to make a way in the music business with kids and story of obstacles, I never let it keep me back from moving toward my dreams. There were always hurdles, judgments and doubts, but I continued to keep it real and embrace all the things that made me, me. 

Share your AerieREALism with us!

I was at a meeting last week with two gentlemen who were wearing full on business suits. This was a members-only private club that was all outdoor seating… and it was 90° out!!!  I was sweating like crazy in my knee pits (back of knee lol) and it was rolling down into my shoes. Unfortunately, my closet light stopped working that day so when I looked down to assess the sweat-uation, I was wearing two different pairs of athletic shoes. I continued the meeting by sweating it out, rocking the look and imagining how terrible it must’ve been pretending to be comfortable in a business suit. 

You heard it from Nikki… #AerieREAL is rocking two different shoes & some serious knee sweat!

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