The DNCE member, 31, acknowledged in a new interview that the nickname had really been harmful to Frankie, 20. “I refused to call Frankie ‘Bonus Jonas’ after he opened up to me about how that was hurtful to him,” Joe told Bustle for a profile about the newly minted TikTok star.
“It completely makes sense, and we’ve had lengthy conversations and apologies behind closed doors that showcased my understanding and respect for his wishes,” he added. “I think to feel like you are second, third or fourth best from something is unfair; we are all equals.”
Though Jonas Brothers fans used the moniker affectionately, Frankie admitted that he never liked it. “I always hated that nickname,” he said in the Bustle interview. “A lot of my problem with being in the public eye was that I was seen as this commodified vision of myself.”
The Ponyo voice actor appeared in a handful of movies that starred Joe, Kevin, 33, and Nick, 28, as well as the band’s two documentaries and the series Married to Jonas, but his initial attempts to pursue fame on his own terms were not successful at first. Now he’s a bona fide viral star, with nearly 2 million TikTok followers. He also recently signed with United Talent Agency, whose clients include Gwyneth Paltrow, Harrison Ford, Paul Rudd, Channing Tatum and Angelia Jolie.
“This experience on TikTok is so different because I’m being so authentically myself and not caring and just doing what I can,” Frankie told Bustle of his recent social media fame. “I was just making jokes, thinking no one was hearing them. And then people heard them and liked them. I thought, ‘I’m going to continue to do this,’ because I’ve never had my thing really. This feels like so much of my thing. It feels so empowering to have a thing.”
Joe, who last July welcomed daughter Willa with his wife, Sophie Turner, added that Frankie has spent a lot of time working on himself out of the spotlight, which helped him learn how to shine in his own right. “He’s done a lot of healing behind the scenes, and this is his way of bringing you into his own universe,” he explained. “He has a lot of fun with it. The guy is the social media star we honestly need.”
In a TikTok he shared last month, Frankie revealed that he previously considered suicide while struggling with a drug and alcohol addiction. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the fact that I’m alive today because my world has changed so beautifully and so astronomically, and I am not that person anymore,” he said. “I couldn’t be more grateful that I’m alive and happy.”
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).