The pressure is on for celebrities to get on TikTok. Understandable — that’s where the action is these days, and they don’t want to miss out on even the smallest shred of potential relevancy. But TikTok is not Instagram; you can’t just throw up a pic of yourself looking hot by the beach with a couple of emojis in the caption and expect to get hundreds of thousands of likes. Instead, you — or, more realistically, someone on your team — has to put in the work. That means being on the app every single day, keeping up trends, and possessing enough ambient awareness that you can ascertain what a butter board is and whether you are for or against them at any given moment.
There are only two ways for a celebrity to have a good TikTok account. The first is to use it like an influencer, which means understanding what people want from both you and your online presence. Lizzo is the gold standard here — you can tell she is spending a lot of time on the app and genuinely enjoying it. She posts vegan food reviews, answers fan questions, comments on insular TikTok drama, and promotes her athleisure line. This is to say, she uses TikTok like any other personality-based online content creator, and not like someone whose manager has put a gun to their head and told them to post one video a week.
The second way for a celeb to be good at TikTok sits on the other side of this spectrum, where the normies reside. One example of this is Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams, who treats her page — an unverified account with the handle @lil.hustla — just like any other 25-year-old would, posting random shit that she finds funny in fits and spurts every three months.
Also part of this camp are actresses Elle Fanning and Amanda Seyfried, with Fanning posting under a randomly generated default username and Seyfried posting as her dog. Neither seem to have been forced onto the app to promote an upcoming project, and in fact probably got into it the way most regular people do: Someone younger than them said that there were funny videos on there, and eventually they felt compelled to sign up and see for themselves.
This is not the usual route for most famous people, and as such, most famous people’s pages suck. Seeing someone like Justin Timberlake pop up on the For You Page is not only a jump scare, but also a sad reminder that about 90 percent of being a celebrity is working with the devil to remain relevant (the remaining 10 percent is doing the thing you’re supposed to be good at). But I am an optimist who loves to look at famous people, and in my heart, I truly believe that I can fix them. Here’s my advice on how to rework some of the worst TikTok accounts in Hollywood:
Lupita Nyong’o’s account is actually an interesting case study of correct tactics coming from the wrong person. Nyong’o is doing the trends, she’s posting videos set to viral audios, and she’s having fun with filters, but somehow it all feels wrong. The Black Panther star’s TikTok is an unfortunate mirror for her career: All the parts (a master’s degree from Yale, legitimate talent, and a literal Oscar) are there, and yet she still ends up getting stuck in trash like The 355. How we fix that situation is a question for another day, but for right now, we can work on her TikTok persona.
Nyong’o’s problem is that her videos strip away her mystique, revealing the actress to be almost unbearably corny and earnest. This is an issue that many celebrities run into, largely being theater kid-types. Nyong’o either needs to hire the person who wrote the jokes during Brad Pitt’s Oscar campaign — was he ever more likable as a person than when he was joking about Tinder about Brexit? — or she needs to pivot solely to lifestyle content like recipes, workout routines, outfit inspo. If she can’t be funny, she can at least develop an #aesthetic that can be spun off into a line of cookware sold exclusively at Target.
But there is a third, more daunting option, which is that she goes full January Jones. Just start being truly bizarre on the app, with more videos like this one, in which she rolls around in the tide for five seconds while a child’s voice talks about having fun. Get weird.
This man made two TikTok videos back in July — presumably to promote his new song with Calvin Harris, Halsey, and Pharrell — and has not touched the app since. This is as good/bad as it’s going to get, and it should stay that way.
Zooey Deschanel has not looked like Katy Perry for about a decade, so I don’t know what she and her social media person were going for with this one. The She & Him songstress does an organic post about once a month, and it rarely ever features her talking. She’s usually participating in a challenge that does not require her to speak; sometimes all it really involves is googling different photos of herself. What’s sad is that her TikTok could be so much more, especially since so many zoomers are discovering Jessica Day for the first time: Give us stories from the New Girl set, a “get ready with me” video that shows off her collection of A-line skirts, hell, even a couples challenge with the Property Brother she’s inexplicably married to. Deschanel’s literal voice is missing from this account, and if a non-famous person posted like this they would have maybe 25 followers.
There is no “fixing” to be done with Madonna in 2022, she is just going to be like this forever. If anything, she should get more bizarre. Get David Cronenberg on the horn and let’s turn this into an experiment in body horror. Call it a commentary on the aging celebrity and install it at the MoMA.
A message for Mrs. Knowles-Carter’s eyes only, from the bottom of my heart: Girl, you do not need to be here and it’s honestly embarrassing that you are.
Men who are famous for being hot and charming should have no problem having a good TikTok, and yet Hemsworth’s is a drag. The people want thirst traps, which is something that whoever is running this account sort of understands, but is not committing to fully. Hemsworth’s page should lean into the self-aware humor that Marvel fans and TikTok teens love and just post all cheeky homemade fancams. Preferably they’d be set to K-pop music, but I’m not picky.