By Len La Rocca
Social media influencer Kelvin Peña, also known as Brother Nature, visited the College on Sept. 24 to discuss his origin as a viral sensation.
Peña earned the name of “Brother Nature” by posting videos of himself feeding and making friends with a family of deer on social media, which made people eager for more of his interactions with wildlife.
Born in New York City, the 21-year-old bounced around from several parts of the world due to unforeseeable circumstances. At the age of 2, he moved to Puerto Rico due to his grandmother being diagnosed with cancer. After growing up in Puerto Rico, he moved to Texas. Rather than dwelling on the move, Peña was optimistic and comedic.
“On the flight there, me and my and my older brother were just talking, like, ‘damn, bro, we’re about to ride horses to school,’” he said.
However, when Peña came back to the U.S., he wasn’t focused on school until he decided to enroll in a college readiness class. He received his promising — yet not exactly excellent — ranking in his high school class. He then decided to get serious about his grades, join the swim team and become more goal-oriented overall.
Peña was thriving under his newfound responsibility. However, the manner changed when his mother’s boyfriend had an affair.
“The boyfriend that my momma had ended up cheating … and she put his ass out,” Peña said. “Which is good for her, but for the household, it kinda messed us up.”
With bills piling up, the Peña house began to become nearly uninhabitable. On every winter morning, Peña would see his breath inside of his home.
“I would wake up, see the breath, but I just, like, forced myself out of bed and go to swim practice and bust my ass in school because it was the only thing I could do,” Peña said.
In a scholarship interview with the school board, Peña was asking the ultimate question — what he wanted to do with his life.
“I don’t know where these words came from. I told them ‘honestly, I feel like I go so hard everyday that I’ve mastered humanry (human life). So I want to go out into the Amazon and hang out with the animals and see how they live,’” Peña said.
These words meant little to Peña in the moment, but they turned out to be foreshadowing success.
After making himself and his family proud in his academic success, he was on his way to East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.
One afternoon after Peña and his cousin were playing video games, they walked out into the yard and locked eyes with a deer. His cousin then nonchalantly hand-fed a piece of bread to the dear. Peña was impressed.
“This man got a pet dear … this is crazy,” Peña said.
Upon pulling into his own driveway, Peña spotted a deer in the front yard, where he saw an opportunity.
“I grabbed some apples, bread and crackers … I gotta gain his trust,” he said. “I rolled him the apple and it hits his hoof. He sniffs it a little bit, takes a bite, shoots his head up, wiggles his tail, looks me in the eye and I knew I had him.”
Peña wanted to give the deer a name that was meaningful to him. He named the deer ‘Money.’
His next action would make him a viral sensation. Peña pulled out his phone, opened Snapchat and recorded a video saying, “I’m out here with my pet deer. His name is Money. We love the woods. We love it all.”
He posted the video to Twitter and within a day, the video got approximately 700 retweets, starting his viral career.
The next day, more deer were in his backyard. He walked out to the deer and hand-fed them fruit. He coined his catchphrase in the second video he posted. “This the deer squad — everybody eats,” he said.
With his viral buzz, Peña wanted to do good for the community. His manager helped him start the Everybody Eats Foundation, which provided poor families in the East Stroudsburg community with Thanksgiving dinners.
His fame only grew from there — a documentary on his rise as a social media superstar made it to the Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the U.S.
His viral status has allowed him to travel the world with the aid of several wildlife organizations such as the Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Africa.
While unorthodox, his rise to fame has been for the greater good of nature — his experience, whether feeding animals or the people of his community, could be boiled down to the catchphrase that changed his life — ‘everybody eats.’
He left the audience members with a message to be patient in their quest for success.
“Every small action counts. The universe is paying attention to what you do so be true at heart,” Peña said. “Just know that someday… things are just gonna go up.”