- TikTok star Addison Rae spoke to Insider about the pitfalls of her huge success on the platform.
- She said she hopes social media will become a place of positivity rather than “tearing people down.”
- The 21-year-old has faced criticism and trolling since rising to TikTok fame in 2019.
TikTok’s fourth most-followed creator Addison Rae Easterling says fame has “completely changed my life,” but becoming an overnight social-media sensation isn’t all positive.
Easterling, who has over 86 million followers on TikTok, praised the way social media gives people the chance to speak about issues in open conversation, but acknowledged there are pitfalls to having such a large public platform.
Many big TikTokers, including 21-year-old Easterling, face huge scrutiny at a young age when propelled into the public eye. Easterling’s fashion sense, her attempted music career, and her signature pouty face have all been subject to trolling.
“I think constructive criticism is never wrong, but I think tearing people down is, and that’s kind of what I think the world will learn hopefully to stray away from,” she said. “Sometimes people use social media to kind of mask themselves or disguise themselves and be able to say whatever they want, whether that’s going to hurt someone or not.”
One of the challenges for Easterling and other TikTok stars is the monumental speed at which the platform can propel young adults and teenagers into the limelight.
“The way TikTok works is anyone can go viral,” she told Insider. “You can have a video go viral one day that you randomly post to your 10 followers and the next day it has hundreds of thousands of views. People have been more capable of experiencing the power of the internet.”
Handling that popularity can be challenging, but Easterling has a simple mantra she lives by, and which she recommends to young, would-be creators: “Not everyone is meant to like you.” She hopes that social media users will eventually recognize the harm they can cause to those who are subjected to snipes.
“Hopefully, we continue to grow on the internet and learn ways to use it in a positive way,” Easterling told Insider. “And use it kind of what it was initially meant for, which was sharing things that we’re passionate about.”
Easterling, who has faced criticism for co-opting the dances of Black creators and presenting them to large audiences, including on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” wasn’t sure whether social media platforms would do more to promote diverse voices, after Forbes’ list of the highest-earning YouTubers and TikTokers in 2021 — of which she was part — featured predominately white faces.
“That’s an interesting question,” she told Insider. “I think it’s all very new and very new to everyone. I think there’s a lot to learn about it and a lot to figure out in the next few years. That whole change in life has only happened recently. I guess we’ll have to see.”
Easterling rose to fame in late 2019 with her TikTok videos featuring lips-syncs, dances, and comedy skits. In September 2021, she signed a multi-picture deal with Netflix worth $2 million off the back of the success of her first movie “He’s All That.”
Easterling told Insider she hadn’t had the chance to watch the Netflix reality series “Hype House,” based in a communal TikTok creator mansion of which she was once part, but that she was “super excited” about potential future films with the
She said there are “lots more projects down the road” which she’s working on, but isn’t ready to share with her followers yet.
For now, she is focused on the fight against cancer. In partnership with the NFL and the American Cancer Society, she’ll be attending the Super Bowl with one fan picked from a selection of those who donate at least $10 to the American Cancer Society’s Crucial Catch campaign, which helps more people catch cancer early and addresses the unequal burden of the disease in marginalized communities.
“Being able to be a part of the American Cancer Society and raising money to fight cancer is a great opportunity, because I know it’s affected me and it’s affected people I know,” she said.