Over the last year, TikTok star Addison Rae has been steadily crossing over into traditional media. I know lots of people have their opinions about whether or not social media stars can get their names on the A-list, but Addison is the latest who is coming for that space. She’s currently working on He’s All That (a reboot of She’s All That) and performed her song “Obsessed” for the first time on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon on Friday. The PR team behind this Addison is working hard. Will it work and will it last?
For the unfamiliar, Addison Rae has almost 79 million followers on TikTok, which makes her the second most popular creator on the app. I didn’t get the TikTok hype at first, but now...I get it. When I fell for the TikTok trap around this time last year at the beginning of quarantine, I knew there was no going back, it’s just so...addictive. It knows exactly what you want to watch. With Addison, it was people watching her dance videos, so many that it was enough to shoot her to TikTok supremacy. Still, a lot of other creators were making the same content. And yet, for the majority, it never got them into the same household name seats. Sure, Lil Nas X got his start on TikTok with “Old Town Road”, but Addison began by using the app for fun without any direction of where this could take her. What set her aside from everyone else is her ability to quickly adapt.
Connecting with celebrities was an important step. Her friendship with Kourtney Kardashian has definitely been a factor. Kourtney’s son Mason was a huge fan. Kourtney and Addison then started creating content together, which has been a huge catalyst for Addison’s name getting introduced to the mainstream world.
take 5 @kourtneykardashianâ™¬ original sound - payton graber
But even though she was making big moves within the right circles, she was also making sure not to forget about her fans on TikTok. Her posting stays consistent, and even though she is way busier than she was just last year, her content hasn't changed much - that’s key. Sometimes when influencers start branching out, the content on the platforms that launched them become inconsistent because they are putting all their energy in other projects that may not even translate smoothly with their fan base. Addison, however, is still updating new TikTok dances and sharing with followers whether or not she’s still with her boyfriend and fellow TikToker, Bryce Hall.
Bryce is a polarizing character. There have been times when I’ve worried that his image would give her a bad rap as well, but for some reason or another, things like his chaotic outburst at a restaurant don’t seem to affect Addison’s career in a negative way. If anything, it just makes us want to know more. When paparazzi release footage of her looking emotional after rumours of him allegedly cheating come out, of course the eyes are going to be on every single one of her social media channels to see if she is going to tell us more. Since she lets her fans into her life so intimately, they get attached easier and want to know it all.
But TikTok fame is one thing, famous by traditional media standards is another. We’ve seen so many YouTube stars try to become household names beyond the social media space and few can extend beyond it. Lilly Singh, who I grew up knowing as iiSuperwomanii, now has an NBC late-night show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh. Even though it got renewed for a second season that premiered earlier this year, I have never heard any of my peers talk about it, let alone watch it. This is significant, because I don’t think I had one friend who wasn’t obsessed with her YouTube videos growing up (especially because she’s Canadian). I don’t think it has anything to do with her talent, because she is hilarious. I just don’t think enough of her original audience followed her on the ride from YouTube to conventional television.
So far with Addison, she’s using TikTok to her advantage in a way that’s just as effective, if not more, than some A-listers. For example, this is where she dropped her song (I didn’t even know she sang?) AND music video - smart because it can generate buzz on TikTok and become a trend of its own. Now, she can use her own sound in her posts that get millions of views a day, which also can connect directly to Spotify and Apple Music. It plays off of our generation’s need to have things instantly, as well as be involved in something. Doja Cat recently used the silhouette dance trend in the music video of her song, “Streets”, that was used for the same trend created by fans.
Building off from that on The Tonight Show, it was a showcase for her performance skills.
I was impressed with her stage presence and ease. On the music side of things, I wouldn’t go as far as to say the song is great. The lyrics don’t have much creativity. But the chorus is really catchy, and her confidence while performing it makes it up for me.
So for sure, she’s achieved a moment in traditional media. What’s next is turning that moment into something more, something lasting. Even though she has so much support from her fans, it’s important she finds an identity other than “TikTok girl” if she wants to start winning Grammys – if that’s even the goal. What makes her so loveable on social media is her relatability. But what makes traditional media difficult is standing out. Billie Eilish wears baggy Gucci (I call it cool-girl chic), Lady Gaga wore a meat dress, and Shakira’s hips never lie. The point isn’t to find something just to stand out either; it has to be completely authentic too because pop culture stans can tell if it’s just for show or not. If Addison is able to tap into expressing herself in a way we’ve never seen before, she could make this happen. If not, there’s another social media influencer waiting for their moment.
And then there’s the controversy: I was disappointed during a segment on The Tonight Show where Addison did a bunch of viral TikTok dances without crediting the original creators, many of them being Black creators.
This is why I bang on EVERYBODY about the economics and race of social media— ðŸ‡¬ðŸ‡¾ðŸ—½Sydette Dread Gorgon ðŸ‡¬ðŸ‡¾ ðŸ—½ (@Blackamazon) March 28, 2021
â€œTik tok dancesâ€
the names of the artists not there
The actual choreographers not there
Sheâ€™s on national television but where are the Black kids who actually made these https://t.co/jSdMMBbQu0
Some might say that it’s not that big of a deal because everyone does these dances, but it’s deeper than that. Addison has built her career up on these dances to the point of standing on Jimmy Fallon’s stage, so the least she could do is ensure those creators are acknowledged for their art. It’s even more upsetting when you take into the account that it is harder for Black influencers to find success than white influencers.
Here’s a list of the people who created those dances so you can take a look at their awesome content:
Do It Again - dance credit @noahschnapp
Corvette Corvette - dance credit @yvnggprince
Laffy Taffy - dance credit @flyboyfu
Savage - dance credit @keke.janjah
Blinding Lights - dance credit @macdaddyz
Up - dance credit @theemyanicole
Fergalicious - dance credit @thegilberttwins
*The internet is still trying to figure out who created the “Savage Love” dance.