TikTok screen captures
TikTok seems to be the most recent social media fad, and Manual is no stranger to the app. While much of the student body finds themselves scrolling through and liking the short, usually humorous videos for a ridiculous number of hours of the day, a few students have made it big in a different way ー as content creators.
Collectively, the five Manual TikTok ‘celebrities’ have secured a spot on the following list of over 345,000 people around the world.
“It’s another creative outlet and a lot of fun,” John Woodhouse (10, J&C) said about his experience on the app. John first got some attention on TikTok over the summer, and now has 100.4k followers, making him the most TikTok famous student at Manual.
“Everyone was on it over the summer and I just got it on a whim. I had musical.ly back before TikTok was a thing. I got [TikTok], uploaded a few videos, and by my third video it got a little more attention and it just went up and up from there,” he explained.
In John’s 27 videos, he has around 1.1 million likes collectively. Although he has been very successful in creating content, John also spends much of his time scrolling through the app as well.
“Honestly, it’s my most used app,” John explained. ” It takes up so many hours of the day. I could say a decent six to seven hours of the day.”
While many teenagers strive to reach TikTok celebrity status, there are some darker sides to the life of having thousands of followers; not only are there multiple hours of John’s day dedicated to scrolling through and creating his own content on the app, but some of the comments can be harmful as well.
“I read all of them,” Woodhouse said. “I read everything they say, and if I get a rude comment, it sticks with me. But I also try to laugh it off.”
Having so many views on videos opens John up for not only compliments and funny remarks in the comment section, but hateful comments as well.
“That kind of stuff can bother me. There’s also a stigma around TikTok, but I get over that,” he said. He tries to look at the bright sides of the app.
“I just have a good time,” he said. “Knock it all you want, but don’t knock it till you try it.” You can follow John on TikTok using his username, @johnwoodhouse.
Along with John, there are four more students who have found their way to celebrity status on TikTok. Emma Redmon (10, YPAS) has gained 92.3k followers on TikTok along with 1.2 million likes on her 37 videos since September 2019.
“I posted a video of me singing a remix of a song, and people really liked it,” Redmon said regarding her rise to fame. She bases her account around singing covers of songs and other remixes she creates, which has done her well with getting exposure for future endeavors in her singing career.
“I’ve had some really cool managers and producers reach out to me, and I’ve gotten to do some fun projects and talk to really cool people,” Redmon said. She uses her TikTok platform as a way to get her voice out there and has been very successful in doing so.
“You can get a lot of exposure and good opportunities from [TikTok], but it’s not consistent, and you never know if your video will do well or not,” she explained. You can support Emma and her voice by following her TikTok with her username, @emmaesmusic.
Anna Carpenter (10, HSU) has also gained exposure TikTok. With her 83.7k followers and 1.4 million likes throughout 102 videos, Carpenter had her first experience of going viral the first time she hit upload.
“I posted a video in May of my freshman year, and all of the sudden I started getting all these notifications. My friends were saying ‘Look at your TikTok!’ I was so confused,” she said. “So I looked at it, and [my video] had gotten around 20k likes and I was freaking out. The next day it had 40k likes and it kind of dawned on me, ‘Woah, you’ve gone viral.”
Carpenter consistently posts comedic videos and spends much of her day scrolling through the app.
“The community is hilarious,” she explained. “I save around 20 videos a day from people because it’s so funny and it makes me happy. It’s just a way to get away from life.”
Although Carpenter enjoys her time spent on TikTok, she also explains how the community can sometimes be a not-so-funny place.
“There can be a lot of negativity in the comments,” she said. “A lot of sexualization that I don’t really care for. That needs to change and we need to make the community a better place.”
Carpenter tends to look to the brighter, more comedic side of TikTok to drown out the negative comments on her feed. Although she downloaded the app as mere joke, the recognition Anna has received since has been very real.
“This summer I went North Carolina and I was shopping at this big shopping mall. This little boy came up to me and was like ‘Are you anna?” she said. “I was shocked and in the moment, I just looked at him. I said ‘yeah!’ And he asked to take a picture with me. It was an interesting encounter and it dawned on me, ‘Woah, people see me.”
She continues to make her comedy-based videos as her follower and like numbers continue to climb higher and higher. You can follow Anna for her content at her handle, @annakcarp.
Another successful TikToker of Manual is Jasmine Howard (10, HSU). She gained her TikTok fame with her witty videos to different sounds on the app, getting her 38.9k followers and 1.2 million likes on her 268 videos.
“It’s fun when people relate to your videos and tell you in the comments,” Howard said. Using TikTok just for fun, she never expected to become successful on the app.
“My first video blew up the last day of summer, so I woke up on the first day of school in a good mood because my video hit a million views,” Howard explained.
Since becoming bigger on the app, gaming companies have sent Howard games to try and different opportunities for her to take part in. This surprised her because she had never planned on blowing up in the first place.
“I just kept making videos consistently that I thought were funny and people stuck around for that,” she explained. You can watch Howard’s content by following her with her username, @jasmiinehoward.
One more successful TikToker of Manual is Iman Dashti (10, MST). He has gained 30.4k followers since late 2018. Dashti originally posted a TikTok video for his school friends but it quickly gained the attention of 300,000 others. Since then, he has made 85 videos that have collectively received 2.1 million likes.
“I thought my comedy was dumb and I made [my first video] for a couple of my friends to see,” Dashti said about his first encounter on the app. “My friends liked it, but then a lot of other people liked it too, it was surprising.”
Dashti is known for his creative and funny videos, including one that received 2.4 million views and 521k likes, along with hundreds of other TikTokers using the background sound he made for the video.
“The stupidest things can get so big, but also the most wholesome things too,” Dashti said. Social media can be a very toxic place for some teens, but he makes sure that he doesn’t allow TikTok to become bad for his mental health or well being.
“A TikTok blowing up can change a person’s life,” he said. “Some people are so supportive, and the few bullies that are on the app are completely drowned out by the positivity. It’s such a positive app, that’s why I love it so much.”
He also makes sure to not let the app take up too much of his day, unlike the majority of teenagers with the app.
“I spend around fifteen minutes a day on the app. I don’t have that much time, and even if I wanted to spend more time, I’m too busy,” he explained. When Dashti creates his own content, he will check the app periodically to see how his new video is doing. Besides the few minutes spent checking on his own content, he spends minimal time scrolling through the app.
“Sometimes I have those days where I spend an hour and just watch [TikToks,] but then I get off,” he said. “I try to limit myself.”
Overall, the experience of influencing other people makes downloading the app worth it for Dashti.
“Kids I’ve never met come up to me and say they’ve seen my videos, and that makes me so happy,” he said. “I just like having the ability to make people laugh. It’s one of my biggest loves.”
You can see Iman’s TikToks at his username, @iman_.dashti.
While the few Manual students who have managed gain the status of TikTok famous have experienced circumstances of being noticed as an influencer, none of them consider themselves celebrities.
“There is no substance to being TikTok famous; there’s no tangible part of it,” Woodhouse said. “It really means absolutely nothing at the end of the day.”
Even though he has been approached for pictures at different events around Louisville, he believes that TikTok fame is completely separate to celebrity fame.
“Even though they knew me, they didn’t really care who I was,” Woodhouse said. “They just knew I was who I was, and so they wanted pictures. I thought it was kind of odd.”
Woodhouse considers his TikTok following as a fun plus to the app but nothing to obsess over.
“I don’t take it too seriously because it’s just something fun to do. There’s no real use for being TikTok famous,” he said. “If you’re TikTok famous, then you’re probably just famous on TikTok. That’s not applicable anywhere else.”
Along with Woodhouse, Carpenter does not see her success on TikTok as something to be taken too seriously.
“People take it as a joke, it’s not a big deal,” she explained.
Carpenter believes that there is a distinct difference between TikTok fame and celebrity fame.
“When someone’s music goes viral, you get noticed more. It’s a different kind of attention, and I’m just a normal kid at Manual. It’s really no big deal,” she said.
With being approached for pictures, receiving music deals and their phones constantly blowing up with notifications, these teens’ lives are a bit more interesting since downloading TikTok. Even though behind a screen there are hundreds of thousands of people viewing them as famous, these five Manual sophomores live their normal lives just as anyone else scrolling through the app.
This story was originally published on Manual RedEye on February 4, 2020.