Supercar Blondie: The social media mega star leaving online trolls in the rear view mirror
The Dubai-based personality had to overcome vile abuse which led her to therapy on her long and winding road to success
To her legions of adoring followers, social media superstar Alex Hirschi is living the dream.
Known across the globe as Supercar Blondie, the thrill-seeking 34-year-old has found fame thanks to her love of high-end cars - the faster, flashier and more furious the better.
Ms Hirschi has amassed close to 20 million online fans, all enthralled by her high-octane videos showing her behind the wheel of luxurious cars worth millions of dirhams.
But her life in the fast lane didn't come without encountering more than the odd road block along the way.
Ms Hirschi had to endure vile abuse from online trolls as well as hostility from within the motor industry itself.
The situation became so bad she had to undergo therapy to find a way to cope with the pressure.
“It was really difficult at the beginning. I thought society had moved on from the issue of women in car industry but it hadn’t,” she said.
“One of the biggest obstacles was car journalists asking what does she know?
“They would say ‘why would they give her cars?’”
Ms Hirschi, a former radio presenter on Dubai Eye, has always been a car fanatic.
Her love for cars grew from the 14-hour drives she would take with her family growing up in the small town of Boonah, Australia.
Growing up in a driving culture from a young age did her few favours though in an industry that was a cold house for women when she began posting her videos.
“The majority of people at the events I would be asked to cover were men,” she said.
“I was the only woman on trips which would have up to 50 people at them.”
Her status as an outsider, however, helped make her a valuable commodity to the car companies.
“I’m not a traditional type of car expert and that’s why it works,” she said.
“Here I was, a woman talking about cars in a way that others weren’t.
“I was valuable to car brands because I was talking in a way people could understand, free of industry lingo that went over people’s heads.”
She began posting videos while still on the radio, but quit the day job in 2017 to focus on the social media channels, such was her level of success.
It was not long until the ugly side of being a celebrity emerged.
“At the beginning the abuse was just purely sexist comments,” she said.
“They said the only way I was successful was because I slept my way there.
“I would get messages saying I should kill myself and I was a stain on the industry.”
The pressure was so much she enrolled in therapy under the advice of her husband Nik.
“Even before when I was on the radio one guy was sending hateful messages every day for two weeks,” she said.
“I eventually had to see a therapist because there were days when I couldn’t get of bed because of it.
“I did and it helped me understand why I shouldn’t care about the abuse.”
She said for all the online abuse, the vast majority of her fanbase were completely supportive.
“I have to say 85 per cent of my followers are men,” she said.
“I get a lot of support from them, and the rest of my followers, from all over the world.”
Coming to terms with her fame was something she was not prepared for.
“It blows my mind when I meet people in cities all over the world,” she said.
“When I go out now I need security guards because there are so many people to meet and they all want to say hello.
Her fame also came at a cost in her adopted home city of Dubai.
“I can’t go walking round in Dubai Mall or do groceries as I am stopped every few metres for photographs,” she said.
However, she insists the positives of being a woman blazing a trail in a traditionally male-dominated sector make it all worthwhile.
She said the key to her success was connecting with her audience.
“I constantly pinch myself and don’t take it for granted,” she said.
She said while she encountered a lot of initial hostility, none of it came from the local community.
“When I first started filming, I have to say that the support I got from Emirati supercar owners was amazing,” she said.
“They welcomed me with open arms and were happy to see a woman driving among them.”
It is no secret in an age where companies are coming under scrutiny for their environmental policies, the car industry was in the spotlight more than most.
She was quick to defend it though.
“I think it’s important to note how many changes the industry has underwent in such a short time,” she said.
“Most companies now manufacture electric vehicles and they are making massive steps to move with the times.”
She also had a message for any women hoping to follow in her footsteps.
“I didn’t realise how many women wanted to get into the car industry,” she said.
“It’s important for women have to keep turning up at events.
“It has been a struggle for women and you need a lot of good people around you.”
Updated: January 16, 2020 12:49 PM