If you’ve happened to open up TikTok within the past year, you’ve probably come across Addison Rae.
The 20-year-old is known for her dance videos, where she pulls cutesy faces as she lip-syncs to songs and performs little routines. It might not seem like much, but the former dancer rakes in an estimated $5 million a year thanks to lucrative brand partnerships that want to reach her 112.2 million followers across TikTok and Instagram.
She’s achieved Gen Z “It Girl” status after deciding to drop out of Louisiana State University and make content full-time, putting on hold her plan to become a broadcast journalist. It’s a bet that has certainly paid off.
Since joining TikTok in the summer of 2019, Rae has launched a makeup line, tried her hand at singing, and landed a starring role in the upcoming movie He’s All That, a remake of the 1999 film She’s All That.
Rae has even caught the eye of the Kardashian family, modeling for Kim Kardashian West’s SKIMS loungewear line and regularly hanging out with 41-year-old Kourtney Kardashian.
Now, Glamour UK has put Rae on its digital cover for February, giving her the full celebrity treatment. Stylist Law Roach, whose work consistently lands Zendaya on “best dressed” lists, pulled Dolce & Gabbana and Miu Miu frocks for Rae to wear. Celebrity photographer Mike Rosenthal snapped the cover images and Mary Phillips, who recently worked with Jennifer Lopez for Coach and Kendall Jenner in the now viral SKIMS Valentine’s Day lingerie shoot, was hired for makeup.
But beyond the interview, where Rae discussed dealing with trolls, her mental health, and hopes for her career, the influencer making the cover is news in and of itself. It signifies that Rae and other TikTokers have garnered enough star power to infiltrate the celebrity landscape—and the industry is welcoming them with open arms.
Just last week, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) announced it would allow content creators across all social media platforms to become members. Previously, only YouTubers were extended the opportunity to join the union if they produced sponsored videos.
“As new ways of storytelling emerge, it’s imperative that we embrace and lift up these artists,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said.
The union’s new agreement allows influencers to secure health and pension benefits, and an easier route to Hollywood, as membership can lead to more roles and gigs.
Rae will be far from the only TikToker who now qualifies to join SAG-AFTRA.
For instance, there’s 16-year-old fellow dancer Charli D’Amelio, who is the most followed creator on the app with 108.1 million followers. Declared as the face of the platform by The New Yorker, she was featured alongside Megan Thee Stallion, T-Pain, Spice Girl Mel B, and Real Housewives of New Jersey cast members in Sabra Hummus’ Super Bowl commercial in 2020.
Plus, she’s recently teamed up with Dunkin’ to create a new signature coffee drink after the success of “The Charli” cold brew beverage in September.
D’Amelio’s sister Dixie also boasts a large following and used her platform to launch a music career. Her debut song “Be Happy” climbed its way to Billboard’s Top 50 by November after its release last summer. (Rae is also rumored to be embarking on a music career, releasing a single soon.)
The sisters are so popular that Hulu picked up a docuseries that will follow their family as they navigate their newfound fame, with the eight episodes set to air later this year.
Noah Beck is also a sought-after creator to work with due to his 21.5 million followers. The former soccer player, who happens to be dating Dixie, was tapped by Louis Vuitton as a VIP guest at its virtual fall 2021 menswear show, earning him a write-up in Vogue.
“It’s crazy to think I went from wearing gym shorts and tees 80% of the time when I was playing soccer, to now working with some of the hottest luxury brands and being invited to Fashion Week,” he said.
He also seems keen for an acting debut, explaining how he squeezed in a self-tape on the same day as the show.
“It’s crazy to think I went from wearing gym shorts and tees 80% of the time when I was playing soccer, to now working with some of the hottest luxury brands and being invited to Fashion Week.”
But despite the seemingly endless stream of branded deals, it’s still too soon to tell how far TikTok influencers will go. The platform has long been compared to Vine, a now defunct video social media app that allowed users to create quick 6-second clips.
A wave of Vine creators became overnight sensations and headed to Los Angeles in hopes of launching full-time careers, including King Bach, Gabbie Hanna, brothers Jake and Logan Paul, Lele Pons, Nash Grier, Liza Koshy, Brittany Furlan, David Dobrik, and of course singer Shawn Mendes.
Some found mainstream success. Mendes has been nominated for two Grammys, King Bach has consistently secured work in various television shows and films, and comedian Liza Koshy interviewed celebrities during the Met Gala for Vogue in 2018 and 2019.
The controversial Paul brothers pivoted to YouTube, where they have amassed millions of followers for pulling various stunts, including COVID-denier Jake taunting Conor McGregor in hopes he’d agree to a boxing match. Logan is set to go up against Floyd Mayweather in the ring on February 20.
But many Viners’ social media fame had fizzled out by the time the app was shuttered in October of 2016. Several are right back on TikTok in hopes they might finally make a career out of creating short-form content.
As for Rae, she’s not worried about what will happen if TikTok’s popularity is suddenly overtaken by the newest craze. For now, she’s enjoying her current success and taking “every opportunity I can to just accomplish everything that I dreamed of.”