Since the tragic death of her husband, René Angélil, in 2016, Céline Dion has relied heavily on backup dancer and close friend Pepe Muñoz for support. However, we’ve learned that some members of Dion’s inner circle fear that he may have too much influence over her and that he is isolating her.
But despite the fact that we’re told, “she knows he’s gay and is accepting of it,” others think Dion is in love with him and has made him her personal “boy toy.”
Regardless of what the rumor mill claims, here’s what we know about Muñoz
She’s 17 years older than him
Dion is the latest in a long lineage of pop divas to hone their affection towards a younger man. The 51-year-old star has been spotted at numerous public events with her 34-year-old backup dancer and creative director.
His has some major dance experience
Muñoz trained at institutions all around the world from the Royal Academy of Dance in London to the National Ballet of Cuba in Havana.
At 19, he was a struggling dancer working for tips in Madrid when he caught the eye of an agent and was invited to audition for the Spanish production of “Cats,” according to Vogue. From there, he toured in European productions of “Chicago,” “West Side Story” and “Dirty Dancing,” as well as the Cirque de Soleil show “Zumanity,” before getting a call from Dion’s personal assistant asking if he would join her tour.
“I’d always been a great fan, not like a psycho fan, but I’ve always loved her music,” Muñoz said. “I said ‘yes,’ of course, then rapidly went to the gym to start doing sit-ups.”
She turned to him in her time of mourning
Following the death of Angélil in January 2016, Dion sought refuge in Muñoz. In an interview with People in April 2019, she called Muñoz her “best friend” and a source of great comfort.
“The thing is that he’s my best friend and he did so much for me and even just holding my hand… it’s something that I haven’t had for a long time,” she said. “A hug from a 6′ 3” man, it was wonderful.”
While she denied the romance rumors, she maintained that, “He did so much for me, for my mental health, my spirituality, my inner strength.”
He might have a boyfriend
While some suspect that Dion and Muñoz are more than just friends, it appears that Muñoz may be in a relationship. New York-based dancer Brayden Newby and Muñoz have been popping up on each other’s Instagrams recently. Newby shared a photo of the two at the Top of the Rock in New York, where he referred to Muñoz as his “soul” in Spanish in a caption complete with a rainbow flag and heart emojis.
In another post, they were holding hands as they walk down the street, and even visited a European nude beach together.
Regardless of whether or not the relationship rumors are true, the two are undeniably close.
He is a gifted illustrator
Muñoz occasionally posts his fashion sketches to his Instagram — often using Dion as his muse. In fact, it is because of his eye for fashion that he accompanies the music icon to fashion shows globally.
“She didn’t even know I drew,” Muñoz told Vogue in June 2017. According to him, one of her assistants introduced her to Muñoz’s illustrations, and she extended a front-row invitation to Couture Fashion Week in Paris.
She credits him with revamping her style
Accompanying Dion to many fashion shows over the course of their relationship has had such a profound impact on Muñoz that he now works closely with her to keep her style edgy.
People reported that upon rediscovering her inner strength following Angélil’s death, Dion began pursuing her passion for fashion.
“I love fashion,” Dion said. She credited her stylists, including creative director Muñoz, with helping her choose bold looks that are “reflecting how I feel inside.”
She also credited him for her slimmer figure, mentioning that the two do ballet together four times a week.
People also reported that while at the Alexandre Vauthier Haute Couture Show in January 2019, Muñoz even saved Dion from a wardrobe malfunction, as he readjusted her gown’s plunging neckline before she showed too much.