Young, driven and bursting with talent, these creatives are Gen Z’s answer to teen idols. But the chances are you’ve never heard their names or seen their faces. Unless, that is, you happen to be on TikTok.
For these seven teenagers and 20-somethings represent some of the biggest names on the video sharing platform.
In slickly-produced videos lasting no longer than three minutes, these TikTok stars, known as ‘creators’, share outfits, jokes and makeup tutorials with millions of fans. The most popular is Charli D’Amelio, a 17-year-old from Connecticut who found fame with dance videos shot in her bedroom and now has more than 130million followers.
There is nothing is too mundane for TikTok and there is something for everyone. There is ‘TherapyTok’, ‘WitchTok’ and ‘GamerTok’, depending on your interests.
There is also no need to choose. Cleaning hacks, entertainment news and cute dog videos can sit side-by-side on the ‘For You’ page, compiled based on a user’s activity.
TikTok power players: 1. British YouTube star turned musician KSI; 2. Self-taught British makeup guru Abby Roberts; 3. America’s TikTok queen Addison Rae; 4. Texas fashion icon Wisdom Kaye; 5. London-raised style guru Ben Parks; 6. London-based style blogger Ambika Dhir; 7. British comedy genius Ehiz Ufuah. The content creators were all invited to the British Fashion Awards 2021, presented by TikTok, cementing their celebrity status
The result is a highly addictive, highly engaging platform that has pulled in users at a rapid pace. In October it passed 1 billion users, reaching the milestone in less time than Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
What the most popular creators have in common is that they have found a way to either carve out a niche – one successful creator specialises in Microsoft Excel hacks, another gives brand logos hilariously bad redesigns – connect with their audience, convey their winning personality, or a combination of the three.
US megastar Addison Rae, 21, has 85.8million fans and has racked up a staggering 5.5billion likes across her videos, which range from her relaxing on a yacht to brushing her teeth.
Like many of the most successful creators, Rae has used her follower count to leverage big name deals both on and off the platform.
She has her own brand of beauty products, is the face of Pandora jewellery and has signed a multi-picture Netflix deal worth millions of dollars.
Addison, a close friend of the Kardashians, was just one of the global TikTok stars who this week attended the The Fashion Awards at the Royal Albert Hall, cementing their celebrity status.
Here, FEMAIL reveals some of the names you need to know…
1. YOUTUBE MILLIONAIRE
KSI, 8.4million followers
Hitting the big time: Raised in Watford, 28-year-old KSI first found fame on YouTube where he shared videos of him playing computer games in his bedroom. Now he has 23.6m subscribers on the platform, and a further 8.4m followers on TikTok. Pictured, KSI performs at the Team GB homecoming event in August. Right, on the red carpet at the British Fashion Awards
Living large: KSI boasted a net worth of £16 million as of June 2020 and has been savvy with how he spends his money. He reportedly has a property empire worth an estimated £10million. Above, posing with super cars in an Instagram snap
Reality TV: KSI appeared alongside producer friend S-X on the 2020 edition of Celebrity Gogglebox, pictured
Making headlines: KSI squared up against rival ‘vlogger’ Logan Paul in two pay-per-view boxing matches (pictured in 2019)
Raised in Watford, Hertfordshire, 28-year-old KSI first found fame on YouTube where he shared videos of himself playing computer games in his bedroom.
Now he has 23.6million subscribers on the platform, and a further 8.4million followers on TikTok.
KSI, real name Olajide Olayinka Williams Olatunji, has diversified the type of videos he shares and now posts everything from comedy sketches to clips of him trying on fancy dress costumes.
He is also making a push into the music industry. A recent song with rapper Lil Wayne has more than 23million views on YouTube. All these views mean KSI can earn hundreds of thousands in brand partnerships.
KSI boasted a net worth of £16 million as of June 2020 and has been savvy with how he spends his money. He reportedly has a property empire worth an estimated £10million, made up of 12 flats and homes in affluent neighbourhoods.
He made headlines when he squared up against rival ‘vlogger’ Logan Paul in two pay-per-view boxing matches, in a deal thought to be worth £700,000.
And he’s not shy about showing off his wealth in videos with titles like ‘spending over $200,000 on a watch’ and ‘Buying a 24k gold iPhone in Dubai’.
2. BEAUTY MEGASTAR
Abby Roberts, 17.4m followers
Self-made beauty queen: Twenty-year-old Abby Roberts, from Leeds, was just 11 when she started posting make-up tutorials on YouTube. In 2019, she began posting on TikTok and is now the platforms biggest beauty creator with over 1.4 billion likes and 17.4 million followers. Her sister Charlotte (right together at a recent film premiere) is also a TikTok star
Twenty-year-old Abby Roberts, from Leeds, was just 11 when she started posting make-up tutorials on YouTube. In 2019, she began posting on TikTok and is now the platforms biggest beauty creator with over 1.4 billion likes and 17.4 million followers.
Speaking to Glamour this year, she revealed how she’s ‘terrible at overworking’ and has launched her own beauty line in addition to her plans to move to LA and start a music career.
‘People think that because I’m young and I’m a “TikToker”, or “influencer” that I’m not a businesswoman,’ she said.
Cover girl: Abby Roberts landed a digital Glamour UK cover this year and spoke about her rise to fame
‘I’m looking for investors and going to events with all these 50-year-old men. I’m a 20-year-old girl with red hair, I stand out quite a bit in those rooms.’
Abby, who appeared as a guest judge on BBC makeup reality show Glow Up, took a break from social media earlier this year after being hospitalised with exhaustion.
‘I’m really bad at overworking,’ she said. ‘I don’t know when to stop. They said it was stress causing my heart to do all sorts of funky things. That was a realisation moment for me that I need to take time for myself. So I’ve been making that my mission.’
Completely self-taught, Abby said she was ‘s**t’ at makeup when she started and credits YouTube for her skills. Now she wants to use the same approach to forge a path in music.
She added: ‘I’ve achieved so much with makeup, so I wanted to revisit some more of my childhood passions. As a kid, I would write songs with my cousin and we would perform them to the family.
‘If I can get to where I am with makeup – I was s*** at makeup when I started, let me tell you – if I put in the same hours and dedication.
‘I can be a good musician. I started learning guitar last year, because it was important to me to be able to contribute to my sessions, and I’m super-involved in songwriting as well.’
3. PRINCESS OF TIKTOK
Addison Rae, 85.8m followers
Screen queen: US creator Addison Rae, pictured at the British Fashion Awards, is the third biggest name on TiKTok
Support system: The influencer is close with her parents, Sheri Nicole Easterling and Monty Lopez, and her younger brothers
TikTok star Addison Rae could well serve as the poster child for ‘overnight success,’ having shot to global fame — at least among her fellow Gen Zers — in a matter of months after securing her status as one of the video app’s most popular users.
Less than two years after uploading her first post on the platform, the 21-year-old has gone from an unknown Louisiana teen to burgeoning social media star to celebrity ‘It Girl,’ complete with A-list pals like Kourtney Kardashian, lucrative brand deals, a Netflix movie role, and a spread in the latest issue of Vogue, cementing her status as a true Hollywood star.
As quickly as her star as risen, so have her earnings, with Addison — whose full name is Addison Rae Easterling — being named as TikTok highest-paid star, pulling in an estimated $5 million in earnings in just one year.
But long before she made it big on social media, moved her family out to live the high life in LA, and started palling around with the likes of the Kardashian family, Addison was an aspiring dancer whose family struggled to make ends meet and even had to live in a one-room camper that was loaned to them.
Addison was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, to parents Sheri Nicole Easterling and Monty Lopez on October 6, 2000.
Sheri Nicole had just turned 21 and was dating her now husband Monty when they welcomed Addison, their first of three children. They married in 2003 but divorced about a year later, making Sheri Nicole a single mom.
Low key: Like many other teenagers, Addison began filming herself in her home in Louisiana – but unlike others, her posts racked up millions of views
When she was in fifth grade, her family briefly moved to Texas, where they lived for two years. Sheri Nicole and Monty, who were still divorced, welcomed their youngest son, Lucas, during that time. (Both of Addison’s brothers have taken their father’s last name, Lopez, though she continues to use her mother’s maiden name.)
After Monty got a job offer he couldn’t refuse, the family returned to Louisiana — this time the northern part of the state — when Addison was about to start eighth grade. They moved into an apartment and had ‘pool chairs’ in their living room in place of furniture.
By then a teenager, Addison, who had been dancing most of her life, had her sights set on joining the Louisiana State University dance team known as the Tiger Girls. She was so dedicated to her dream that she missed her senior prom to attend tryouts.
While she made it past the first round, she was eventually cut, which broke her heart and made her briefly reconsider attending LSU. She ultimately decided to go to the school, and her family moved to Baton Rouge with her to save money on room and board — but she wasn’t there for long.
Addison made the life-changing decision to join TikTok in July 2019, the summer before she entered her freshman year at LSU, where she studied broadcast journalism.
Mentor: Addison has developed a close friendship with Kourtney Kardashian, who has taken her under her wing. Right, as her star continued to rise, she scored branded merchandise and sponsored content deals, including a partnership with American Eagle
Netflix deal: Addison has also launched her new clean makeup brand, ITEM Beauty, which is a joint venture with the startup Madeby. She also has a multi-film deal with Netflix, worth millions of dollars. The first film, He’s All That, came out this year
She remembers the exact date she reached one million followers, telling Forbes it was October 27, 2019. By that point, people were starting to recognize her on campus thanks to her videos, which mostly showed her dancing and lip-syncing.
‘My name would be called out when I was walking to class, which was pretty mind-blowing,’ she recounted.
A month later, she dropped out of school. Around the same time, she shared her first sponsored content post for the online retailer Fashion Nova. By December 2019, she had moved to Los Angeles to turn her budding fame into a lucrative career.
She befriended other TikTokers and helped form Hype House, a content creator collective that calls an LA mansion of the same name home base.
As her star continued to rise, she scored branded merchandise and sponsored content deals. Forbes reported last year that she made an estimated $5 million from June 30, 2019, through June 30, 2020, with the two revenue streams counting for two-thirds of her estimated earnings.
In January 2020, Addison signed with the WME talent agency, which also represents her parents. That same year, she was named a global spokesperson for American Eagle and was featured in the brand’s digital and print campaigns as well as TV spots.
She also launched her new clean makeup brand, ITEM Beauty, which is a joint venture with the startup Madeby. She also has a multi-film deal with Netflix, worth millions of dollars.
4. TIKTOK’S BEST DRESSED
Wisdom Kaye, 7.4m followers
Fashion icon: Dubbed the ‘most fashionable guy on TikTok’ by Teen Vogue, Wisdom Kaye has gone from fashion nobody to catwalk star in less than two years. Pictured, showing off his ensembles in Instagram snaps
Starry night: Addison Rae, Wisdom Kaye and KSI strike a pose at The Fashion Awards at the Royal Albert Hall on Monday
The fashion set: Wisdom Kaye, Anna Collins, Stuart Vevers, Hari Nef, Quincy Brown, Benjamin Seidler, Tommy Dorfman, and Lolo Zouai attend the 2021 CFDA Awards in New York earlier this month
Dubbed the ‘most fashionable guy on TikTok’ by Teen Vogue, Wisdom Kaye has gone from fashion nobody to catwalk star in less than two years.
Wisom, 20, from Houston, Texas, discovered an interest in fashion when he started high school in 2014 and wanted to change his appearance to ‘fit in’.
‘I used to get bullied a lot for my physical features, so I thought the best way to minimize this would be through conformity,’ he previously said. ‘As the years went by, I stopped caring what everyone thought about me and I started experimenting more. I discovered Hedi Slimane maybe around 2018.
‘Prior to that I was familiar with his work at Saint Laurent—I just didn’t know who was behind it. I just loved the whole Saint Laurent aesthetic and I’ve tried to implement some of what he does with my style.’
He joined the app in January 2020 and started by simply sharing compilations of outfits he had put together.
Now, Wisdom has 7.4million followers, a contract with IMG Models and collaborations with Ralph Lauren, Dior and Fendi under his belt.
Wisdom, who has taken a break from his studies at Texas State University to focus on his burgeoning career, was spotted this year sitting FROW at Prada’s Fashion Week show and walked for Balmain in Paris.
‘It’s been great,’ said in an interview earlier this year. ‘I’ve gotten to do more than I ever had done, ever — go more places and see more things.’
5. FASHION GURU
FashionBoy, 199,700 followers
Diverse inspiration: Ben, known as FashionBoy, spent his early years in London before going to a ‘military boarding school’, according the The Tab, where he found himself influenced by the fashion showcased by the international student body
Ever wondered who the youngest couture designer is, or the true story behind the House of Gucci? These are the sort of sartorial questions answered by FashionBoy, aka Ben Park, on TikTok.
Ben spent his early years in London before going to a ‘military boarding school’, according the The Tab, where he found himself influenced by the fashion showcased by the international student body.
He became seriously interested in the fashion industry aged 16 and has slowly worked to build up a designer wardrobe.
Unlike some of his contemporaries, Ben’s parents didn’t just ‘open their cheque books’, and the teenage fashionista funded his taste for expensive clothes by working.
Ben enrolled as a first year student at Edinburgh University last year, but it is not known whether he is still a student.
His videos cover all the latest fashion updates; from a roundup of all the red carpet looks at Cannes Film Festival, to deep dives into renowned designers such as Alexander McQueen. More recently he has shared footage from the FROW at London Fashion Week.
He said in an interview with TikTok: ‘TikTok has taught me more about personal style than any publication or fashion resource… [My aim is] to make fashion less scary, less serious and more accessible. Plain and simple. What’s the point in fashion if we’re too scared or intimidated to enjoy it.’
6. OUTFIT INSPIRATION
Ambika Dhir, 118,000 followers
Burgeoning blogger: London-based Ambika Dhir began posting her outfits while she was in 6th form four years ago
London-based Ambika Dhir began posting her outfits while she was in 6th form four years ago.
‘I was quite lucky in that my sixth form had a relaxed dress code policy and that meant I could play around with what I wanted to wear each day,’ she said in an interview with Renouveau Media. ‘Planning my outfits became an important part of my morning routine and a few people at school suggested I start a blog, and it went from there.’
Although she has a smaller TikTok following than other creators on the power list, Ambika has still bagged collaborations with brands including NastyGal, Astrid and Miyu and Selfridges.
She has been identified by the style mavens at Who What Wear as a face to watch.
Speaking on how TikTok has changed her fashion sensibilities, she said: ‘So I started up a TikTok account at the beginning of quarantine and it’s such a different place in terms of style to Instagram.
‘I think Gen Z have a really different take on fashion to Millennials and courtesy of TikTok, I’ve taken aspects of Gen Z style and incorporated it into my own.
‘I think now I like a good mix between scandi-minimalism and 90s princess-diana esque fashion. I’ve also found that I can’t lounge in jeans like I used to be able to, so I caved and bought some sweatpants, and now I’m never lounging in jeans again.’
7. COMEDY TALENT
Ehiz, 12.1m followers
Cinderella story: London-born Ehiz Ufuah has had a rollercoaster two years. In January 2020 Ehiz and his family lost their council home in Romford, east London, and were temporarily moved into a Travelodge. Now he is a TikTok star. Pictured, at an event in the Saatchi Gallery in London in October (left) and with Tallia Storm in Westfield shopping centre in July
Jet set: This year has brought trips to Greece and Dubai, and invitations to London Fashion Week and film premieres. Pictured, waiting to board a plane at London Heathrow in October
London-born Ehiz Ufuah, 21, has had a rollercoaster two years. In January 2020 Ehiz and his family lost their council home in Romford, east London, and were temporarily moved into a Travelodge.
The following month Ehiz made a decision that would change his life and joined TikTok to ‘see what the hype was about’. He struck gold early on with a video of him debating whether to do the washing up for his mother, or leave it for his siblings. The clip racked up 750,000 views.
‘I’d only had about three followers until then,’ he told the Daily Mirror in March. ‘My family and friends were texting me, telling me I was famous. I couldn’t believe all the attention that video got me.’
Fast forward a year, and Ehiz was one of the promising young creators selected to join a ‘hype house’ in Surrey. Hype houses are rented properties where creators live together to make content.
This year has brought trips to Greece and Dubai, and invitations to London Fashion Week and film premieres.
He has also been recognised in Primark and has his videos reposted by celebrity fans including Megan McKenna from The Only Way Is Essex.
Ehiz was a drama student at Greenwich University, but it is not known if he has taken a break from his study to focus on his career.
Earlier this year, he revealed his big ambition is to buy a house for his mother, three sisters and two brothers.