Ballerina, beauty queen and Mormon: Who is Ballerina Farm owner, Hannah Neeleman?

By Abby Amoakuh

Updated Feb 21, 2024 at 12:50 PM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Old McDonald had a farm, and on that farm, he had some cows, some chickens and, apparently, a Juilliard-trained dancer turned beauty queen who returned to the spotlight only two weeks after giving birth. Next to being incredibly determined and resilient, this woman is also a skilled homemaker, a mother of eight young children, and a Mormon. Despite this seeming like an odd combination for a social media star at first, @ballerinafarm isn’t the first Mormon to make a major splash on TikTok. Remember Nara Pellman? Yet, the creator is still being subjected to a major amount of criticism, so let’s break it down for you.

@ballerinafarm

Introducing homemade mozzarella-topped meatballs paired with warm sourdough baguette. So fun to make!

♬ Mambo Italiano - Dean Martin

Who is Hannah Neeleman?

Hannah Neeleman, or @ballerinafarm, puts the ‘can’ in American, according to her 8.8 million followers on Instagram and 6.9 million on TikTok.

@ballerinafarm

Day 3! Pt2 #mrsworldpageant #lasvegas

♬ C'est Magnifique - Peggy Lee

The 33-year-old is a professional ballerina who was trained at the prestigious Juilliard School for Performing Arts in New York City after attending Brigham Young University’s theatre ballet programme at age 16.

The Utah native married her husband Daniel Neeleman in 2011, and the couple lived abroad in São Paulo, Brazil, for four years while he worked and she danced and learned Portuguese. This is also the place where the two supposedly fell in love with agriculture. Following their stay abroad, they opened up a farm in Kamas, Utah, where old McDonald and his wife are now running a successful farm business called—you guessed it—Ballerina Farm.

Think subscription boxes of meat, ready-to-bake goods, honey, spices and, of course, merchandise, made with care by someone you actually recognise, rather than some industrial giant. That almost makes it less painful to flock out £24 for a small glass of Ballerina Farm Seasoning, right?

However, Neeleman’s abilities extend far beyond farming: next to being a talented dancer and agriculturalist, she’s also a pageant queen. She won the title of Miss Springville and went on to become second runner-up for Miss Utah and Miss National Sweetheart. In August 2023, Neeleman was crowned Miss American. In January 2024, the beauty queen also competed in the Miss World competition in Las Vegas only two weeks after giving birth to her eighth child, Flora Jo.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Hannah @Ballerina Farm (@ballerinafarm)

While some netizens praised her decision to compete and hailed the contestant as a super mom for strutting down the stage in a gorgeous swimsuit seconds after breastfeeding Flora Jo behind the stage, others questioned whether she was setting an unreasonable standard for other postpartum women. Some even suggested that it is unwise to take a newborn on an aircraft and into a crowded casino.

@ballerinafarm

Getting strong for us, baby!! ❤️ 💪🏼

♬ original sound - Ballerina Farm

And while the dancer did not take the crown for Miss World home, she did earn herself several features in global news outlets, such as the New York Times, The Guardian, and The Daily Mail.

Still, new fame and fans come with more scrutiny. Netizens uncovered two things about Neeleman’s life that they had some unpleasant thoughts about: her husband’s wealth and the family’s Mormonism.

What is Daniel Neeleman’s net worth?

Hannah’s husband Daniel is the son of David Gary Neeleman, an American-Brazilian businessman who serves as the chair of Azul Brazilian Airlines and chief executive of Breeze Airways. This places his net worth somewhere around Richie Rich and Dagobert Duck—just kidding. But he is worth around a whopping $400 million. As one of David’s ten children, this makes Daniel the heir to a sustainable fortune.

This, of course, presents a stark contrast to the humble and modest farm life Hannah and David have been showcasing on their social platforms.

@ballerinafarm

Sourdough flatbread grilled cheese! The perfect summer meal 🌿🌞 (also! I wanted to add music but was having technical difficulties, so no music it is!)

♬ original sound - Ballerina Farm
@ballerinafarm

I’ve always liked to swoon Daniel with good cooking. And since this week is our 12 year anniversary I’ve been hip-deep in pans and dishes. 😎His favorite meal is chicken parmigiana, not a small ask. This year I upped the ante by rolling out homemade pasta, which made all the difference. Happy anniversary, @hogfathering 😘

♬ Che La Luna - Louis Prima

Consequently, many netizens started to question the authenticity and commitment to the couple’s farm business that is integral to their brand. It was also critiqued that contrary to other farmers, the family had an exceptional safety net, which reduced the stakes of their operations and potentially gave them an unfair advantage.

Are the Neelemans Mormons?

@screenshothq

Hannah Neeleman from Ballerina Farm has nearly 7 million TikTok followers who love watching her cook and live life on a rural farm in Utah. However, controversy ensued when it was exposed that her husband, Daniel Neeleman, is a multi millionaire and that they’re Mormons. #mormoninfluencers #ballerinafarm #tiktokviral

♬ Minimal for news / news suspense(1169746) - Hiraoka Kotaro

Hannah Neeleman has been very outspoken about her Mormon faith so far, especially during beauty pageants.

“When you stick to who you are, they [the judges and the other contestants] notice you more,” she said in an interview with The Deseret News, a news publication that is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I was representing myself, not playing a role, so modesty, for instance, was really important to me always.”

Hannah and her husband also enjoyed a temple wedding in their native Utah to tie the knot, in-between completing their studies at the Mormon Brigham Young University.

When she was asked about when she felt most empowered in her life at the Miss American pageant in 2023, Hannah also replied: “I have felt this feeling seven times now, as I bring these sacred souls to the earth. After I hold that newborn baby in my arms, the feeling of motherhood and bringing them into the earth is the most empowering feeling I have ever felt.” Neeleman’s answer was met with cheering and applause from the crowd.

For some netizens, analysing these comments under the framework of Mormonism gave them a sour aftertaste.

Mormonism is famously controversial for its rigid and uncompromising gender roles. Fathers preside over the family and hold the priesthood, while mothers are primarily responsible for nurturing the children. Its ongoing doctrine of polygamy for men also seems to reinforce the notion that women are a form of property that can be amassed to many of the church’s critics. To the dismay of many netizens, the faith also lays heavy emphasis on heterosexual marriage for admission into the highest level of Mormon heaven.

The dislike of the Neeleman’s religion quickly opened the floodgate for a general dislike of them, as well as the assumption that Hannah is pushing a dangerously outdated and harmful narrative through the @ballerinafarm social media accounts.

It is important to consider that Hannah hasn’t used her platform to speak about her Mormonism yet. Instead, she just seems to embody several convictions that are central to the traditional Mormon faith, such as modesty, frugality, and domesticity. These qualities, such as being a homemaker and wanting to have multiple children, aren’t explicitly Mormon.

Thus, a growing number of people online are now speaking up in the couple’s defence. One account on TikTok said: “I don’t get why ppl are even commenting let the woman live her best life.”

“Eight children and rural Utah, why were people surprised that she’s Mormon?” another TikToker wrote.

“I’m surprised most people didn’t know farmers can be uber-rich… common knowledge in midwest,” another user replied. Someone else stated: “I don’t see the issue? she wanted a farm life. No one announces their income.”

Neeleman and her family have never lied about who they are or hidden their faith and net worth. So is this potentially another cause of ‘Just let them live and look away if you can’t bear to watch?’ I think so.

Keep On Reading

By Abby Amoakuh

Who is Nara Pellman? Meet the Mormon tradwife taking TikTok by storm

By Alma Fabiani

Nearly 1 in 4 gen Z Mormons are LGBTQ, new study reveals

By Charlie Sawyer

How to become a sugar baby: Everything you need to know about pursuing a safe sugar lifestyle

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

O.J. Simpson’s father revealed to be a prominent gay drag queen called Mama Simpson

By Charlie Sawyer

The Mean Girls musical reboot trailer just dropped and it’s giving gen Z tryhard energy

By Emma O'Regan-Reidy

Is BookTok ruining reading? Critics seem to think so

By Charlie Sawyer

Man partied for four days unaware he had been shot in the head

By Abby Amoakuh

The things we still don’t understand about sexual assault: Why we need EU-wide Only Yes Means Yes laws

By Abby Amoakuh

Kim Kardashian shows up with cameras for jury duty in gang murder case

By Charlie Sawyer

Singer Luke Combs sickened to hear about his team’s $250K lawsuit against loyal fan, offers to help

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Tripping through J.Lo-land: Unpacking the singer’s most insane project yet

By Abby Amoakuh

Drake responds to his nudes being leaked just hours ago

By Charlie Sawyer

You are shaming me: Nancy Mace calls news presenter disgusting for rape-shaming her over Trump

By Abby Amoakuh

British homes for British workers: Tory party pushes new controversial housing scheme

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Influencer Chiara Ferragni issues apology amid €1M fine for misleading charity Christmas cake sale

By Charlie Sawyer

Timothée Chalamet finally addresses Kylie Jenner and Selena Gomez feud in TMZ video

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

UK police left children at mercy of grooming gang paedophiles, review finds

By Alma Fabiani

Alicia Keys surprises London commuters with piano performance at St Pancras train station

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Fox News host accuses trans community of trying to replace God

By Lois Freeman

The ugly path to freedom: How I finally ended my teenage eating disorder