TikTok star Khaby Lame started using the social media app in 2020, when he was working at a factory in Chivasso, a small town in the Turin district, Italy.
But within a short notice, he was fired, forcing him to return to his family’s “modest home.”
According to The New York Times, the Senegalese sensation chose to pivot his attention to TikTok on a full-time basis instead of getting a so-called “real job,” and it was the best decision he’d ever made.
“It’s my face and my expressions which make people laugh,” he said to the outlet while adding that his muted expressions are a “universal language.”
Whether you understand what he’s saying or not, Lame definitely found a winning formula. He’s almost at 100 million followers on the micro-video app, and a site reportedly stated that someone like him can charge anywhere from $1 million to $2 million per post thanks to his dedicated, engaged following.
“Companies have been known to pay $200 to $20,000 per branded video promoted by influencers, depending on the individual’s level of influence,” says Influencer Marketing Hub, a longtime company specializing in social media sponsorship procurement.
But for each Black TikTok sensation like Lame on the app, there are several white “influencers” on the app that are making tons.
Mr. Lame’s meteoric rise as a digital creator is especially noteworthy because his work lacks the polished production value associated with the most famous TikTok stars of today, many of whom have been adored by Hollywood.
The secret to Lame’s success is his universal exasperated everyman quality. “His content almost debunks or mocks the overproduced trends that happen across social media, whether it’s life hacks or other things like that,” said Samir Chaudry, a founder of The Publish Press, a newsletter covering the creator economy. “He almost represents this authenticity over production. I think that’s very appealing at scale to people, this feeling of someone not trying too hard, it’s something that feels authentic.”