Celebrities. They’re just like us. Except instead of using Tinder, they use their own special dating app called Raya. A membership to this invite-only dating app is as exclusive as you’d suspect, with only a small number of elite applicants accepted on the app — which means your chances of charming and dating someone rich and famous on Tinder just got even slimmer, because even if your favourite celebrity was single, it’s likely they’re finding their next hook-up on Raya.
Launched in 2015, Raya is described as an “online membership-based community for dating, networking and making new friends”. It’s designed for ‘creative’ types, which in Raya terms basically means ‘hot people’, influencers, sportspeople, and those in the public eye.
Applying for Raya
Before you can even so much as humour the idea of applying for the ‘Illuminati Tinder’ (yes, apparently that’s what it’s been referred to as), you have to first be invited by an existing member. Their clout, along with your Instagram following (the bigger, the better apparently), influences whether or not you’ll make the cut.
According to the very minimal Raya website, applications are “assessed based on algorithmic values” and scrutinised by a committee of members worldwide before approval, which could take days, weeks or a matter of months.
Once approved (assuming you’re not left in waitlist limbo forever), you’re asked to hand over your credit card details and fork out $11.65 a month. Who said love don’t cost a thing?
Inside the world of Raya
According to those who’ve made it into the exclusive app, you set up a profile that includes a romantic PowerPoint presentation of selfies accompanied by a backing track.
Instead of swiping right, a match will only be made if both parties tap the heart icon. It’s said to be commonplace to come across a celebrity, but there’s a reason why you’ll never see a screenshot.
Privacy is key to the success of the app, and so if any users ever try to screenshot a match, they’ll be instantly threatened with the “suspension and/or removal of your membership”.
Who is on Raya?
Matthew Perry is the latest high-profile member of Raya. While he’d previously had a profile on the app, the actor recently activated his account once more after splitting with his ex in 2020. The Friends actor and his Raya profile have been in the headlines this week after he matched with a 19-year-old TikTok star, who went on to release their private conversations in a move Chrissy Teigan called “tacky” — on the flip side, Teigan also called out Perry’s online antics as “creepy” and “desperate”.
Ben Affleck is another high-profile member currently active on Raya who has also made news this week for sending a video message via Instagram to a young woman he’d matched with on the app.
A year on from Raya’s launch, NYLON compiled a list of 28 celebrities they’d witnessed as users of the platform at one point or another.
Cara Delevingne, Ruby Rose, Sharon Stone, Alexander Wang, Moby, John Cusack (!!!), Patrick Schwarzenegger, Teri Hatcher, Elijah Wood, and Zach Braff were among the elite crew. Drew Barrymore also became a rumoured member after her friend Amy Schumer met her husband through Raya.
Aside from celebs, you can also expect to find models, Olympians, fashion designers, YouTubers, celebrity chefs, and DJs (cough, Flume).
“There’s plenty of non-famous people on the app, too,” NY Mag’s The Cut wrote in a feature about the platform in which one writer joined for three weeks.
“Artists, models, record-label employees, ad execs, photographers. Most had Instagram follower counts starting in the low thousands, or else were young and very attractive.”
The future of Raya
While Raya still maintains a certain exclusivity us commoners will likely never experience, it’s predicted the platform will see A-listers replaced by influencers as more people discover it.
“As soon as enough people hear about it, photos will leak, undesirables will show up, and hype will evaporate,” wrote The Cut.