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What is Raya?

Launched in Feb. 2015, by tech developer Daniel Gendelman, Raya is an invite-only, exclusive dating app that deems itself a “Digital Dinner Party” for people in “creative industries.” Though its intentional secrecy and intrigue have earned the app the title “Illuminati Tinder.” In 2018, Gendelman told The New York Times that Raya had over 10,000 members across “dozens” of countries.

While members are not allowed to name-drop who they’ve seen on the app, Us Weekly, reports a number of celebrity sightings on Raya including Demi Lovato, John Mayer, Channing Tatum, Kiernan Shipka, Drew Barrymore, and Lizzo.

Who is on Raya?

Photo in the know
Photo in the know

According to The Cut, professional athletes make up a portion of Raya’s users, as do “Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, Dancing With the Stars professional dancers, a YouTube beauty guru, the designer of a streetwear brand popularized by Kanye West, a teen celebrity chef, and Moby”.

Drew Barrymore reportedly tried the app in the past, with the actress revealing during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen that she saw a “lot of” fellow celebrities while trying Raya - but did not have the best experience overall.

“I did terribly too,” she said, adding: “I got stood up, and I didn’t match with anyone. And my friends gave me this sort of bloated sense of false confidence. They were like: ‘You should try it. You will do great.’ It was a car wreck.”

The app, which launched in 2015, has also reportedly counted celebrities including Channing Tatum, Amy Schumer and Trevor Noah among its members.

There are also non-famous people on the app, with the outlet noting that artists, models, record-label executives, and others in creative industries can gain access to the exclusive platform.

As for whether Affleck is actually on Raya, he previously told Diane Sawyer during an appearance on Good Morning America last year that he is not on any dating apps.

“I know people who are on them and they have a fun time, but not me. I would love to have a relationship that was deeply meaningful and one to which I could be deeply committed,” he said at the time.

How Does Raya Work?

Though Raya may be dubbed, “Tinder For Famous People,” the music and slideshow function makes it feel more like a ...PowerPoint. “You pick a song and a make a slideshow of your pictures,” Ryan says. “While you view the slideshow, the song plays in the background.”

Like Tinder, Raya operates on a swipe, match, and message system. If you click on someone’s photo, their slideshow and song will start playing. From there you can swipe “Yes” or “No.” If both people say, “Yes,” you can text message or video chat within the app. But, matches expire after 10 days if no one bites the first message bullet, and you’re only shown a limited amount of profiles per day. “It’s like five to 10 [profiles] every few hours I think,” Ryan says. As one App Store reviewer puts it, “You only see a few people per day, so it’s not just a numbers game.

In addition to the slideshow, users upload one main picture for their profile, a short bio, along with their age, location, and work. “You apply with Instagram,” Ryan says. “So your handle is on the page.” Ryan says he has 8-10 photos on his slideshow. While your Instagram handle is on your page, you will have to upload your own photos.

Unlike Tinder, your potential Raya matches can be from all over the world. You can’t filter by location — only age and gender. There’s a “Maps” page to find users near you, but Ryan says it’s an extra cost to message people near you.

How Do I Get On Raya?

Like a Telfar Shopping Bag, a Raya membership is hard to secure. According to The New York Times, Raya has an 8% acceptance rate, meaning joining the app is akin to getting into an Ivy League college. According to the app’s website, Raya admission is a multi-step process. You need to fill out an application viewed by “hundreds of anonymous committee members.” You also need a referral from someone (or, according to some users, a lot of people) already on the app. Then, you wait.

How Long Does It Take To Get Off The Raya Waitlist?

In 2018, Business Insider reported the Raya waitlist was over 100,000 people. Additionally, if you don’t make the cut, Raya likely won’t send you a rejection notice — various users say your application will just say “pending” forever.

Ryan shares that having many friends already on the app refer him likely helped move his application along. Though he was only on the waitlist for a week, Ryan shares that in the last year, he’s referred a dozen of his friends. It’s taken them multiple weeks to hear if they’ve been accepted.

“When people sign up they see their contacts who are on the app and if [they] pick one for a referral, they get a pop-up asking if they would refer you or not,” Ryan says.

While the site says Raya adds new members every day and that it could take “anywhere from a day to a few months” to get admitted to the app, it’s hard to tell how long the average wait time is. Laura, 32, an artist and model from LA, says that she’s been on the waitlist for over two years. One reviewer on the App Store has been waiting since 2017. Even former Bachelorette Hannah Brown took to Instagram in Feb. 2020 to complain about being on the waitlist for months.

"I’ve even messaged them asking and they just told me to wait,” Laura tells Bustle. “I get the impression that’s it’s just influencers on there. A friend with a lot more Instagram followers than me was accepted, and told me that’s largely what she sees.”

What Famous Couples Met On Raya?

Because of the heightened secrecy rules, it’s hard to say which celebs found love on Raya. Though in her book, The Girl with The Lower Back Tattoo, comedian Amy Schumer alludes to meeting her ex, furniture designer Ben Hanisch on the app. But who knows, maybe Affleck will leave you a video next.

How to Change your Location in Raya on an iPhone

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Photo alphr

The best way to change your location on your iPhone without being in that new geolocation physically is to use a virtual private network (VPN). By using a reputable VPN provider like ExpressVPN, you can use apps and browse content that you normally couldn’t access from your actual location. The following steps will show you how to use ExpressVPN to change your location on Raya on your iPhone:

-Once downloaded, you’ll need to create an account and sign in. A monthly subscription is around $12.99.

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Photo alphr

-Once you have signed in, read the privacy agreement and, if you agree, click the “Agree and Continue” button.

-Click “Continue” to set up your VPN.

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Photo alphr

-ExpressVPN will ask to add VPN configurations. Choose “Allow.” This is a standard message for any VPN app installed on iOS devices. ExpressVPN will never filter or monitor your network activity.

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Photo alphr

-On the next page, enter your passcode to continue.

-Select your preferences for your ExpressVPN notifications and then tap on “OK.”

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Photo alphr

-A new page will ask if you want to help improve ExpressVPN; choose between “OK” or “No, Thanks.”

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Photo alphr

Your VPN is now set up. Now you’ll need to set your location before logging on to Raya. This is how you go about it:

-Open ExpressVPN on your iPhone.

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Photo alphr

-On the “Home” screen that opens, tap on the icon with the three dots next to the “Smart Location” bar. The different locations you can choose from will appear in a menu.

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-Select the location that best suits your needs by tapping on the “All Locations” tab.

-From here, select the continent, the country, and the state in which you want to set your location. The “Home” screen should reappear automatically once you have made your selection.

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Photo alphr

-Tap on the large “Connect” button on the screen. When connected, the red ring around the button will turn green. The location of your IP address is now set to the location you have chosen.

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-Launch Raya on your iPhone. You will now be showing your new location.

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Photo alphr

If you head over to the “Maps” tab, you can search for people near you to connect with for the new geolocation you have chosen.

To change your location to a different place, sign out of Raya, reopen ExpressVPN, and follow steps two through five. If you want to disconnect the VPN completely, open ExpressVPN and tap the “Connect” button. This button will turn grey and indicate it is disconnecting.
How Much Does Raya Cost?

According to the App Store, once you’re admitted to Raya, a membership is $9.99 per month. But users can pay more for extra in-app purchases, such as extra likes.

How to Change Location in Raya on an Android

Because Raya is only made for use on iOS devices, chances are you are running the app as an APK file on your Android device. You can use a VPN while using these apps to change your location. We suggest using ExpressVPN to change your location on Raya on your Android device. First, you will need to download and set up your VPN:

-First, sign up for ExpressVPN

Navigate to the Google Play Store, search for ExpressVPN, download and install it. The app is only compatible with Android 5.0 and is free to download. To use the VPN, you will need to sign up for a monthly subscription for $12.99.

-Once the app is installed, you need to create an account and sign in.

-On the next page, when asked if you want to help improve ExpressVPN, choose “OK” or “No, Thanks.”

-To set up your VPN, tap “OK.” A pop-up will ask your permission to approve ExpressVPN’s connection request. Click “OK.” This message is standard for adding a VPN to an Android device, and ExpressVPN will never filter or monitor your network activity.

The VPN on your Android device is now set up.

-Once your VPN is set up, you need to select your new location and turn on your VPN before using Raya. These are the steps you need to follow:

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-Navigate to the “Smart Location” bar on the app’s Home screen. Next to this bar is an icon with three dots; click on it.

-In the “Locations” menu, click on the “All Locations” tab. From here, choose your continent, country, and then state. Once you have made your selection, the app will go back to the “Home” screen.

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Photo alphr

If it has not automatically started connecting, tap the “Connect” button. When connected, the ring around the button will turn from red to green, and it will read “Connected.”

-Go back to your Android device’s “Home” screen and locate your “Raya” app.

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-Launch the app, and you will now be connected using your new location. You can also head to the “Maps” option and see people near you for this new location.

If you want to change the location on your VPN, sign out and close the Raya app first. Then, reopen ExpressVPN and follow steps two through four again before signing back into Raya.

Should you want to turn off the VPN, open the ExpressVPN app and click on the “Connect” button to disconnect from the VPN.

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