Meet the TikTokers who found fame during the pandemic

Hunkered down with nothing to do, Americans flocked to TikTookay throughout COVID lockdowns. The video-sharing platform exploded in recognition through the pandemic, with a staggering 850 million downloads in 2020 alone. Before lockdowns, TikTookay had lower than 600 million month-to-month energetic customers. Today, it’s nearing 1.4 billion.

That propelled many creators to newfound ranges of fame. TikTokers of each background — from grandmothers to toddlers — have loved influencer standing and life-changing alternatives due to the app.

Here are 5 of their tales:

The Golden Gays
Robert Reeves, Mick Peterson, Bill Lyons, and Jessay Martin of Cathedral City, Calif.
Matt Furman for NY Post

The ‘Golden’ Gays

Robert Reeves, Mick Peterson, Bill Lyons, and Jessay Martin of Cathedral City, Calif., have exploded into stardom of their golden years as @oldgays on TikTookay. At 78, 65, 77, and 68-years-old, respectively, their following has reached a staggering 6.6 million.

Some of the blokes have recognized every because the mid ’80s, and their friendship group step by step expanded to a wonderful foursome throughout the next a long time. But they’d by no means have thought to publish movies to TikTookay if not for an opportunity encounter with Ryan Yezak, whose accomplice was a rental tenant of Robert’s. Yezak works in leisure, and he instantly realized their dynamic personalities and lovable friendships had critical social media potential.

Since January of 2021, they’ve made all kinds of TikToks, from movies of them dancing to sharing photographs from their youthful years. “We try to bring humor and joy. We’re not afraid to make fools of ourselves,” Mick mentioned. “And we try to throw in a few bits of wisdom, too,” added Robert.

Their sudden stardom has additionally introduced model partnership offers with Shake Shack, T-Mobile and VRBO, in addition to alternatives to collaborate on content material creation with celebrities like Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, and Lance Bass. They’ve even appeared on “The Drew Barrymore Show.” “On the way there, we stopped at six different airports, and we were recognized at every single one,” Bill advised The Post. “We had whole lines waiting to take selfies with us. I was absolutely shocked!”

The Old Gays run into fawning followers consistently, they usually adore the eye. “I’m always getting love and thanks and gratitude and just yummy loving,” Jessay mentioned. “I’m a hugaholic, and I will hug you whether you want it or not!”

The group’s expertise of exploding into “golden years” stardom due to TikTookay is really one in 1,000,000. “I’m absolutely flabbergasted by the whole thing,” mentioned Mick. “It’s such a treat that, late in my own life, I can have this kind of effect.”

Jacob Whelan
Jacob Whelan is already an Internet sensation with 1.5 million

The Irish Toddler Charmer

At simply 4 years previous, Jacob Whelan is already an Internet sensation with 1.5 million followers as @keepupwithjacob on TikTookay. He lives together with his dad and mom and little sister, Maisey, in Dublin, Ireland. His mother, Donna, is the mastermind behind his budding stardom.

“From a baby, I always recorded Jacob and shared his videos with close family and friends,” she advised The Post. “I just wanted to see if these videos cheer other people up as much as they do for me.” Their movies primarily include informal conversations, and Jacob’s precocious humor and memorable allure shine by means of. “He’s very funny and clever and witty and definitely has an answer to everything,” Whelan mentioned.

Now, the household repeatedly hears from their million-plus followers in each nook of the globe, and have obtained an outpouring of affection. When Jacob talked about in a TikTookay that his dream is to work in a toy store, Smyth toy retailer (a type of Irish model of Toys “R” Us) even made a tiny uniform for him and invited him to spend a day at their Dublin store, a lot to his delight.

Jacob’s having fun with his newfound life within the highlight. He and mother have been interviewed by native newspapers and on native broadcaster RTE’s The Today Show in Ireland. Plus, he will get stopped on the road, on the grocery store, and even on the playground by adoring followers, to whom he offers high-fives.

“Kids that age are just so funny, and I’ve been able to capture those moments,” Donna mentioned. “His personality and his honesty and the way he expresses himself are what people love about him.”

Cory Bradford
Cory Bradford now lives in New York City and is the host of a podcast.
Emmy Park for NY Post

The Accidental Podcaster

Just a number of months in the past, Cory Bradford was a political organizer primarily based in Oxford, Ala. Now, due to his TikTookay fame as @thisiscory, he’s moved throughout the nation for a dream job as a podcast host in New York City.

While working in politics, Bradford, 30, dabbled on the planet of standup comedy on the aspect. That’s when a comic good friend prompt he publish his content material on TikTookay. “I didn’t know what would happen. I had no plans,” he recalled. “I just started making videos, and learned what people liked.” Cory has since amassed a staggering 728,000 followers making movies about historical past — however at all times with a dose of humor thrown in.

Using comedy and satire, Bradford teaches his viewers about politics and historical past, from the Bill of Rights to the Second World War. “I think that young people actually are interested in history, but they’re taught it in school in a really boring way,” Bradford advised The Post. “I try to be more entertaining and lively with it.” He’s even heard from younger individuals who say they’ve aced assessments due to his content material.

What started as a pastime for Bradford shifted into one thing far greater when a producer at a Manhattan-based media startup, The Lost Debate, discovered his movies and acknowledged his expertise in entrance of the digital camera. She reached out, and earlier than lengthy, Bradford secured a suggestion to maneuver to New York and co-host “The Lost Debate,” a political podcast aimed toward bringing completely different views collectively in dialogue.

Now, due to TikTookay fame, he’s nonetheless making movies whereas dwelling his dream. “I was totally taken aback by the opportunity,” he recalled. “ The only reason I’m here in New York today is because of TikTok. It has profoundly changed my life in that regard.”

Olivia 'Liv' Cochrane
Olivia ‘Liv’ Cochrane is closing in on 300,000 followers.
Emmy Park for NY Post

The Teen ‘Thrifting’ Sensation

Olivia “Liv” Cochrane, 17, was simply your typical teen earlier than she blew up on TikTookay. Now, the highschool junior and vogue lover is closing in on 300,000 followers. It all began in March 2020 when a good friend advised her to affix TikTookay as a result of they’d seen creators with related types and thought she might additionally turn out to be successful on the platform. That’s when Cochrane joined below the deal with @yrstup1d and commenced exhibiting off her distinctive outfits.

Almost immediately, the New York City teen went viral after posting a video of her sporting an outfit impressed by the Monster High vogue doll line. Since then, she’s branched out into making a “dress-like-me” collection and taking her followers on her thrifting hauls. “I show the process of how I put together my outfits, because that’s what people wanted to know,” the Brooklyn-based influencer advised The Post.

Cochrane has formally gained Internet celeb standing, and it has completely modified her life. “I never really aspired to be an influencer. It’s not why I joined TikTok, but once I started, it was very much something I was into.” To date, she’s been stopped on the road dozens of instances by followers who say they give the impression of being as much as her for model inspiration, particularly in thrift shops. She has additionally been adopted by a few of her personal favourite influencers, together with Madeline Pendleton, who has over 1 million followers

Liv has been in a position to monetize her TikTookay presence by becoming a member of the TikTookay creator fund — a stipend TikTookay supplies for particularly bold content material creators — and promoting “style bundles” to followers who need her to select garments for them. “Being a professional influencer is something I’m definitely capable of doing,” she mentioned. “I think it’s a sustainable career path, and I have a lot of friends who make a living off it, which is crazy.”

In the approaching years, Cochrane aspires to check vogue design on the Fashion Institute of Technology, and her final dream is to open her personal retailer the place she sells consigned garments in addition to her personal authentic designs.

Lill Droniak
Lill Droniak, 92, is an Internet sensation with 4.1 million followers.
Zandy Mangold

The Connecticut “Grandfluencer”

92-year-old Lill Droniak is a mom of three, grandmother of 5, and nice grandmother of three. She additionally occurs to be an Internet sensation, with 4.1 million followers as @grandma_droniak on TikTookay.

The Shelton, Conn., resident started rising a social media presence after her grandson, Kevin Droniak, acknowledged her potential to go viral. “I always saw my grandma as someone the Internet would like, because she’s just so funny,” he advised The Post. So, in 2012, they started making YouTube movies collectively.

When TikTookay turned the most popular new platform, Kevin knew Lill needed to get on there. That’s the place she received her huge break as a real “grandfluencer.” Grandma Droniak’s huge persona shines by means of in her movies. She posts every part from dancing movies to courting and life recommendation. Lill is delighted by the outpouring of affection that’s come from her unlikely TikTookay profession: “I just started messing around with it, and they loved me! I never expected so many people to watch, but it feels good. I really can’t believe it.”

She and Kevin have branched out into creating merchandise like Grandma Lill T-shirts and doing model offers with corporations like Amazon. They’ve even appeared on Steve Harvey’s present. Lill says the additional money in her pocket from her influencer profession has been a lot appreciated. “The food prices are going up, the gas prices are going up. I’m just lucky that I can do this.”

Now, Grandma Droniak will get stopped in every single place she goes by adoring followers, and she or he says the expertise retains her younger: “A lot of people can’t believe I’m still doing it. It keeps me young. I might be 92, but I feel like I’m 65!”

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