Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on — whether you’re one of the superfans who know and love everything about Ariana Grande or you’re part of the rest of the public and know just enough about the pop star — we can all agree that Grande has had quite the past couple years, and she’s truly grown from them.
Not only was she able to organize a benefit concert last summer a mere two weeks after a bombing at her concert at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, but she’s also been able to defend herself, take a stand and become more and more independent.
We’ve watched her grow up, make mistakes and learn from them — and the result is a strong, beautiful woman who’s clearly living her best life. (Have you seen her Instagram lately? She and fiancé Pete Davidson are head over heels in love with each other. It’s way too cute.)
Ahead, we’ve rounded up a few things you never knew about Grande.
1. Her celeb impressions started way before SNL
We’ve seen Grande bust out her best celeb impressions on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live, but she was working on her impersonating well before she became a pop star. In fact, she was making webcam clips in her Florida bedroom, doing impressions of her idols, including Britney Spears and Judy Garland.
Below, watch Grande also do impressions of a crying and laughing baby, Judy Garland and Shakira.
2. She hates homophobia
Grande doesn’t understand homophobia, and she strongly feels it has absolutely no place in society.
“I wasn’t raised in a household where it was considered abnormal to be gay,” she told V Magazine in September 2015. “So for me to meet people who use the word ‘faggot’ as an insult, with a derogatory meaning, I can’t take it. I don’t understand it. It’s so foreign to me. I was raised in a household where being gay was like, the most normal thing.”
She added that even the most traditional members of her family embraced her brother, Frankie J. Grande, when he announced he was gay.
“You know, my brother is gay, all of my best friends are gay. When my brother came out of the closet, it wasn’t a big deal for my family. Even my grandpa, who is like, super old-school, was like, Good for you!” she said.
3. But she loves doughnuts
Like, so much she could lick them. Literally.
Three years ago in July 2015, Grande caught some major heat after she was secretly filmed licking unpurchased doughnuts that were on display in a California doughnut shop. In the same video, she was also heard saying “I hate Americans… I hate America.” Did we mention it was Independence Day?
She issued a kinda apology not long after the incident, but not many people were buying it.
4. She’s a quotable feminist
Also in June 2015, Grande penned a blog post chock-full of super-empowering quotables, like “Being ’empowered’ is not the same as being a ‘bitch,'” “HAVING SOMETHING TO SAY… is not the same as HAVING A BAD ATTITUDE,” and “I am tired of living in a world where women are mostly referred to as a man’s past, present or future PROPERTY/POSSESSION. I… do not. belong. to anyone. but myself. and neither do you.”
5. She had a supernatural experience
While in Kansas City for a performance, Grande and her band decided to go to Stull Cemetery, which is considered in some circles as one of the seven gates to Hell on Earth. There, she had what she described to Complex as a demonic experience.
After feeling “sick” and seeing “signs” of demonic presence, Grande “took a picture and there are three super-distinct faces in the picture — they’re faces of textbook demons.” Before she deleted the pictures, she heard strange noises and whispers and even saw a black mass in her bedroom at night.
6. She’s more Streisand than Cyrus
Unlike her hypersexual pop music peer, Miley Cyrus, Grande favors being a bit more demure. “I like Barbra Streisand, and when was the last time you saw Babs getting, like, turnt up? That’s kind of the road that I, as a lady, would like to go down,” she told Cosmopolitan. She has openly admitted she’s “not comfortable enough to be forwardly sexual.”
7. She’s obsessed with Harry Potter
Actually, Grande is admittedly “a big nerd.” Of her hobbies outside of music, the starlet told Complex, “I love Lord of the Rings. I love Harry Potter. I love scary movies. I love dinosaurs, science, aliens, ghosts.” She considers herself an old soul, noting that ideal evenings for her involve hanging out in her PJs, singing and watching Harry Potter. Unlike her friends who are partiers, Grande “never really clicked with that.”
8. Her nonna taught her how to deal with haters
Like most young celebrities, Grande often has to endure taunts from detractors, particularly on Twitter. “Oh, they’re evil as hell!” she laughed in an interview with Cosmopolitan. But she doesn’t let it get her down, thanks to some advice she got from her grandmother. “I said, ‘Nonna, how do you deal with the jealous ladies at the home where you live?’ And she said, ‘I don’t blame them. I’d be jealous, too.'”
9. She’s a reformed Italian eater
Coming from a “stereotypical poker-playing, loud, friendly, food-shoving, loving Italian family,” Grande consumed more than her fair share of carbs growing up, but not anymore. “When I was a kid, I was raised to believe a bowl of pasta was healthy and good for you,” she explained. “Then I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve been killing myself all these years.'” Now, she says, she only eats “salmon, vegetables and fruits — super-healthy.”
10. She’s got Miley’s back
She may not have much in common with Cyrus personally or professionally, but that doesn’t mean she agreed with all of the Miley backlash in 2014. “Miley looks like she is having the time of her life, and I think anybody who’s giving her a hard time is wishing deep down they were having as much fun as she is right now,” Grande said. “People are being so cruel. I think that’s bullying, and she should do whatever the hell she wants.”
11. There’s a method to her social media madness
Grande is known as a social media maven, often interacting with her fans through Twitter and Instagram. But the pop star has certain rules when it comes to these outlets. A major don’t? “Not too many selfies,” she told Glamour in 2013. “Space them out — you have to wait a few days in between selfies.” She does, however, encourage making your Instagram “look cohesive” and “clean and precise.”
12. Her musical inspirations span about six decades
Grande definitely counts some contemporary artists among her musical role models — like India.Arie, Imogen Heap and Frank Ocean — but much of her inspiration also comes from decades past. “My favorite era was the ’50s and ’60s… the Chiffons, the Shangri-Las,” she revealed to The Guardian. “My grandparents played it and I fell in love with it, because it was more about romance and love, and less about getting drunk and going home with someone you don’t know.”
13. Justin Bieber’s manager hooked her up with her ex-boyfriend
Grande is totally open with her fans, so she didn’t have any qualms about revealing her relationship with Nathan Sykes of The Wanted via social media. But how did she meet the boy band cutie who, despite being broken up, still holds her in high regard? They met when Sykes was “headhunted” by Scooter Braun — Grande’s manager who is, perhaps, most famously the manager responsible for Justin Bieber.
14. Her domesticity was not inherited
Grande, who loves baking and gardening, says she definitely didn’t get her homemaker traits from her mother. “My mom is a CEO and owns a company that manufactures communications equipment for the Marines and the Navy, so she’s not really the housewife type, if you get what I’m saying. She’s the most badass, independent woman you’ll ever meet — not the cookies-in-the-oven type.”