Where is Ronaiah Tuiasosopo now? Her secretive life detailed

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was at the center of a catfishing scandal that shocked the world. For years, he pretended to be a woman named Lennay Kekua, forming an online relationship with rising Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o. Ronaiah toyed with Manti’s emotions, telling the prodigiously talented star that Kekua had passed away. 

At around that time, Te’o lost his grandmother – but despite the grief, he lined up against Michigan State and led Notre Dame to victory. However, Kekua didn’t stay dead: Ronaiah called Manti days before the Heisman Trophy ceremony and told him that Lennay wasn’t dead. 

“I don’t know what to think,” Lennay said in Netflix’s The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist. “I don’t know what to do – like, what’s true?” This introduction does little justice to what is a jaw-dropping true story.

Ronaiah goes by the name Naya and is a transgender woman who works at Lowe’s

Ronaiah created Lennay Kekua to deal with her identity struggles: he was born male but felt like a woman. “Being a natural-born male, I could never be what I wanted,” she said in the Netflix doc. 

Therefore, she decided ‘to have that experience in the life of a female even if it were fake. And so I created this whole fictional character.’ After the saga broke, Tuiasosopo moved to American Samoa, started learning about the LGBTQ community, and began life as a woman. 

When she filmed the documentary, Ronaiah, who now goes by Naya, was still transitioning into a transgender woman. Naya lives in Carson, California, and works as an assistant store manager operations at Lowe’s Home Improvement. 

Naya said in the documentary that for years, she struggled to find a job. She said: “People would see my name on applications and automatically be like, ‘Oh no, Ronaiah the catfisher? Yeah, no, we don’t want to hire them.”

Tuiasosopo added she used to feel uneasy about appearing in public or on camera, but she gradually overcame that fear. Naya said:

“I used to think, ‘I’m never going to be able to show my face in public again.’ And then I was like, why wouldn’t I? Someone out there needs to hear my story, and someone out there needs to know that there is a light of hope.” She added:

“I still feel horrible, and sometimes I wish that everything had been undone – but then also another part of me was like, I learned so much about who I am today and who I want to become because of the lessons that I learned through the life of Lennay.”

Manti said he’d forgiven Naya for her role in the saga.