When it comes to celebrities, the generation gap is pretty wide. The internet is full of stories of teenagers bemoaning that their parents have no idea who the latest teen heart-throb is. But still, a good parent will generally make an effort to understand at least a little of their child’s interests. And that’s what one dad was doing when he texted: “Who is Nick Jonas?” to his daughter. From there, a great story started.
So… who is Nick Jonas? Well, once upon a time he was one of the Jonas Brothers, a band which took the world by storm in 2007. Nick, Joe and Kevin had frequently showed up on the Disney Channel in the early ’00s, but their second album, named simply “Jonas Brothers,” became their breakthrough hit in August 2007. Suddenly, they were everywhere.
That year, the band’s song “S.O.S” sold over 1.5 million copies in the U.S. and reached number 17 in the Billboard Hot 100, their highest chart position so far. And from there they only got bigger. They joined forces with Miley Cyrus, who was then the star of Disney show Hannah Montana, and performed a song with her in an episode that was watched by over ten million viewers.
By 2008, the Jonas Brothers had their own show on the Disney Channel, Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream. And they certainly were. That year all three of them starred in the Disney TV movie Camp Rock, which was massively popular. The release of a third album, A Little Bit Longer, sold even more copies than their second album had.
In early 2009 the band brought out their 3D documentary movie, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. Their ever-growing army of dedicated fans went to see it in their droves. It ended up becoming the sixth most financially successful concert film of all time, and cemented the reputation of the Jonas Brothers. They were major stars and they were making multi-millions.
But gradually, Nick Jonas started to make the transition to more adult work. Starting in June 2010, he played the role of Marius Pontmercy in the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert for several weeks. Then in August, he took to the stage at the Hollywood Bowl to perform as Link Larkin in Hairspray. But although the success and money were flowing, all was not well in the Jonas Brothers’ camp.
The trio drifted apart over the next few years. Nick was arguably the most famous of the three – he was frequently appearing in musicals and had a role as mentor on The X Factor – and in the end, it was he who first suggested the band should go their separate ways in 2013. “In a nutshell, I said, ‘Look, I feel like we’ve had some complications within the group for a long time without addressing them,’” he told Good Morning America that year.
The Jonas Brothers remained friends – they were actual family, after all – but Nick cut loose to completely demolish his previously clean-cut image. By the end of 2014, he’d stripped off in front of the audience at gay club BPM, beefed up for the TV series Kingdom, and done some raunchy pictures for Flaunt magazine. Yet for the girls who had grown up with him, that didn’t dampen his appeal in the slightest.
In fact, most of them loved the new, hot Nick Jonas just as much as they’d loved the old, squeaky-clean, Disney Channel Nick Jonas. And among this army of fans was student at University of South Florida, and Twitter user, Deanna Hall. So when she received a text from her father in August 2017 asking “Who is Nick Jonas?” she immediately knew the answer.
She didn’t know why her dad, who was flying First Class on a Delta Airlines airplane, would want to know about some celebrity he had clearly never heard of. But she calmly sent an explanatory text. “A famous singer,” she wrote. “I love him. He was a part of the Jonas Brothers.” Her father then sent her another message. “He is sitting beside me on the plane.”
Deanna instantly went into fangirl mode. She sent four tweets all in capital letters: “SEND PIC. TAKE A PIC WITH HIM. TELL HIM I LOVE HIM. GET AN AUTOGRAPH.” And her father, who is surely now in the running for Dad of the Year, obliged. Soon after, Deanna received a picture of Nick, and then a selfie of her dad next to him.
Deanna decided to post the whole adorable conversation on the internet. She uploaded her text message exchange and the two photos to Twitter, with a caption underneath saying: “When your Dad sits next to Nick Jonas on an airplane and has no idea who [he] is.” It gained hit after hit and comment after comment, before going viral around the world.
People were very impressed by Deanna’s father. “Your dad is so pure,” one Twitterer wrote. Others loved that Deanna had reacted how any fan would, just via text rather than being there in person. “Omg this is so precious. I love how you switched to capitalised letters once you knew your dad was next to him bc I’d have done the same,” someone else commented.
One of the air stewardesses on the flight also dropped into the Twitter thread to confirm the story had happened exactly the way Deanna said it had. “Yeah ur dad was so confused lol.. it was cute!” she wrote. “i was working the flight & ppl were so shocked that Nick was actually on it!” But Deanna herself would never get to meet Nick, alas. Or would she?
In September 2017, Deanna and her father Louis were invited onto Ellen’s Show Me More Show, a YouTube spinoff of the hugely popular The Ellen Show. There, they talked to the camera about how Louis had noticed on the plane that his seatmate’s Starbucks cup read “Nick Jonas.” Louis explained to the camera: “So I sat down and did the text to Deanna.”
“I was just so shocked and I was like so excited. I was so jealous. I wanted to be there,” Deanna added. And just then, as she switched the topic of conversation to how much she liked Nick Jonas, she more or less got her wish. Nick appeared behind her while she was talking. “I love this story!” he said, to gasps of delight and surprise.
Nick shook hands with Deanna’s father while she held her face in shock. “You know I met your dad already,” he told her, before noting that it was “pretty hilarious” how the story had taken off on the internet. “Me and Ellen thought we’ve got to have you come out so we could meet you now. So we’re going to invite you to go the show today and watch the show live.”
Deanna’s day was utterly made. “It’s so nice to meet you!” she gasped to the superstar, completely overwhelmed. “It’s nice to meet you too,” he told her. “We should take some pictures.” So they took a couple of selfies – one of Nick and Deanna, and one with Louis in there too, since after all it was him who was partially responsible for their meeting!
Then – after getting a hug from Nick – Deanna and her father headed to the Ellen studio to watch him perform. He was singing his new single “Find You” for the first time on TV. “I cannot believe I just met Nick Jonas,” an overjoyed Deanna said afterwards. “And I’m so excited to be here with my dad to watch him perform today. Thank you so much, Ellen, for bringing us out here for this.”
“That’s a memory you’d never lose, is it?” Louis Hall told his daughter as she looked at her new selfie with her idol. Then, she gave him a very well-deserved hug. Later on, she posted the treasured picture to Twitter underneath the original text message chain and airplane selfies. “When you get to meet Nick Jonas and know exactly who he is,” she wrote happily.