Charli D’Amelio’s appearance on her sister Dixie D’Amelio’s YouTube series, The Early Late Night Show, was both refreshing and a little sad. Refreshing, because it was nice to see them have what felt like a candid discussion between siblings in the spotlight. Sad, because from what was said, it doesn’t seem like Charli is looking forward to continuing the TikTok lifestyle. With the amount of followers she has (she is the most followed person on the platform), she is most likely wrapped up in deals that span at least the next year. She also left all of her friends to move to California, and even has a family reality TV show in the making. It’s a lot of pressure and commitment which means it would be very difficult for her to find a way to leave the app.
If you don’t already know, Charli D’Amelio is 17. Her 115,000,000+ followers (no, that isn’t a typo!) basically made her the face of the app and its rise in popularity over the last couple of years. She is leaps and bounds ahead of the second most followed person on the app, who happens to be Addison Rae at around 79,000,000. Most of Charli’s content consists of her doing TikTok dances, showing off cute trendy clothes, or hanging out with friends. When Dixie asked her what she does on a normal day, she said, “I don’t feel like I do a lot, but I don’t know if that’s true.” To me, that just means she goes about her regular day and records what she does for her fans to see. On the other hand, TikTokers from the Hype House are very obviously preparing and practicing their content for a while before filming it in perfect lighting. To Charli, it’s just her life. To her industry professionals, it’s her job. Since she’s a teenager going through the motions of growing up, her interests change. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to make your job change just as quickly. It’s even more difficult when you don’t have the option of just dropping it.
It’s clear that Charli is trying to figure herself out like every other 17-year-old. In the conversation above, she talks about how the negativity she receives is part of what makes it hard for her to find TikTok fun at times. Not everyone is built for it, especially at an age where you are so vulnerable to what other people want and think. But it can’t be good that she could be stuck in this place, the most followed person and account on TikTok, with very little clarity on what she wants to do with it. Not to say that she can’t be trusted with decisions – but at the same time, at her age, a decision made for today isn’t necessarily one that she’ll want to make tomorrow.
Like when it comes to all the secret projects she said she’s working on. First, she vaguely spoke about the things she is doing behind-the-scenes that she’s never done before but when she started talking about possibly getting involved in dance again, there was a sparkle that came back in her tone and expression, an excitement in her voice. Before all of the TikTok fame, she was training to be a legit dancer. She even did competitions like what Dance Moms girls did. So it was kind of heartbreaking seeing her enthusiasm about getting involved in dance again, only to remember that she won’t have the time in her schedule to get into it as much as she used to. This is the moment when I wondered whether this whole TikTok thing is turning into a chore that's getting in the way of what she really wants to do. Not only does it take up her time, but it also puts an expectation on her shoulders that she might not want to uphold. Throughout the interview, she keeps mentioning the words “exploring” and “trying new things'', but it didn’t feel like she was confident in them. It feels like her publicist told her to say those buzzwords to try and keep her in the game when her head was already out of it a long time ago.
She also mentioned how she is afraid to step on people’s toes if she were to expand her reach into other things. After hearing her go around and around about the “maybe’s”, she wrapped it up by saying, “everyone already has their thing and I don’t know if I’ve found mine yet.” I don’t want to be that person, but I’m not too sure that an answer like this would ever come from someone who wants to find full-fledged celebrity fame. I’m sure Addison Rae didn’t think of any toes she was stepping on when she said yes to showing up on KUWTK. The same goes for Olivia Rodrigo when she posted “drivers license” on TikTok for the first time. In order for fame to last, you have to be willing to reach out and step on toes in the process if need be. You have to not be afraid of judgement from people who say you aren’t a good enough actress or singer. But most importantly, you have to want it. Charli mentioned multiple times how she doesn’t want to take the spotlight from friends in their own “things”, which is why it's been kind of hard to find hers. Her priorities are already not in line with her peers who are in the same game, because their eyes are on the prize of fame. It’s more than just having projects; it’s about doing them with confidence. Charli just hasn’t found her thing yet, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing for her as a teenager. At this point in anyone’s life, it’s important to have as many options as possible. What’s tricky here is her success might actually be limiting her options, what with all the responsibilities and weight on her shoulders from being on TikTok that will make it almost impossible to just quit. It doesn’t mean she isn’t capable of growing out of the spotlight naturally, though, if that’s what she actually wants. But that’s the question: what does she want and is there any space for her to figure that out without literally millions of people watching her trying?