Steinhardt sophomore Alexandra Meli was in no way looking for fame this summer, but it found her anyways on TikTok.
Made famous by lip-syncing middle schoolers, video app TikTok has risen in popularity as a comedy platform for Gen Zers, and is considered a replacement for the late Vine app.
“Initially, I had two followers and [the first video] had two views,” Meli said. “The next day I got 1 million views and had 6,000 followers or so. It was really weird since I didn’t really know what it [TikTok] was since it [my video] wasn’t the style of typical TikTok videos. It was completely unexpected.”
Though Meli had no intention of rising to TikTok stardom, she is a natural performer and entertainer, and could never picture herself doing anything else other than musical theater. Her love for entertaining others is apparent through her videos and explains why they have become so popular — they will leave anybody laughing at how seriously millennials love Hydroflasks, metal straws and the stickers that obnoxiously cover computers and water bottles — all in a matter of two minutes or less.
“The [first Tik Tok] that [my siblings and I] watched was making fun of VSCO girls,” Meli said. “I didn’t really know what a VSCO girl was, so my younger brother and sister tried to explain to me what it was. Basically, [VSCO girls] care about things and how they look and do things because they’re popular or trendy. Since I had some of the things a VSCO girl has, like metal straws, I decided to make a video with my sister Gabby.”
While media outlets like BuzzFeed has struggled to define the elusive VSCO girl, Meli has made her own path to internet fame with her situational humor.
But she’s not entirely sure how she became TikTok famous.
“I guess I was hopping on a trend that I realize wasn’t a trend,” Meli said. “It was just timing. The delivery of everything I said was really annoying. The video got reposted on meme accounts on Instagram. When I reposted it on Instagram, people started sending it to me, and younger girls at my job would come up to me and show me my video.”
Since she posted her first video at the end of August, Meli has accrued a massive following of 242,000 followers and has over 3 million hearts on her videos. Her TikTok fame got her an invitation to a sketch comedy club group on campus, the Telegraph Nights, where she is now a writer.
As a proud owner of something emblematic of many VSCO girls, Redbubble stickers, Meli also made a TikTok promoting Redbubble’s website and has enjoyed promoting them since. It gave her the opportunity to promote the work of Redbubble’s niche artists, not to mention the fact that she also received commission on Redbubble sales from the access link she shared on TikTok.
Since Meli has gotten the attention of various brands, she is not sure if she will seek out paid opportunities to be a TikTok influencer any time soon.
“I’m not sure how I could make a career off TikTok since my humor is based on situational stuff, but I’m open to exploring opportunities […] maybe on Instagram,” she said.
Though some trolls leave mean comments on her videos, Meli finds humor in how scathing they can be. While some of the sexist comments bothered her, Meli enjoys laughing at herself and doesn’t need other users to validate her.
“I’m not looking for approval,” she said.
Email Sara Miranda at [email protected]