Almost 14 years ago television changed forever with the premier of a little reality TV programme entitled Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Although it starred a family that was little known to the mainstream at the time (they had featured briefly in Paris Hilton’s own hit reality TV series and as part of the infamous OJ Simpson murder trial), the show was a worldwide blockbuster hit.
Not only did it smash all viewing ratings expectations, it forged a new chapter in global television. The appeal was simple, it offered an intimate non-scripted portrayal of the dramas of real people living lavish yet relatable lives. The characters were larger than life and the drama plentiful; resulting in truly addictive viewing.
The Kardashians also offered an outlet to a burgeoning obsession with celebrity, fame and the medium of television. It became almost emblematic of the cultural moment we were experiencing across the globe, heightened by the growing penetration of social media into daily life.
Over a decade later and now social media has overtaken television. No longer are the stars of tomorrow built around this format, but rather TV has begun to farm its future talent from the grassroots content that grows out of apps, streams and shares. Twitter, Vine, YouTube, Snap and Instagram began this trend by gaining billions of fans and views but now the mantle is being passed on to the newcomer; TikTok.
TikTok launched in 2016 in China as an application called Douyin with the view to becoming a competitor in the expanding social micro-video space. Two years later and with billions of dollars behind it, it purchased Musical.ly a competitor with offices in China and Los Angeles. With the merger came TikTok, a super hyped and extremely well financed new entity determined to become the number one app in its space.
Since then, TikTok has become a behemoth with over two billion users and a momentum unseen before even by its rivals. It is growing at an unprecedented pace and has brought with it a new cultural zeitgeist predicated on hype, trend and youth which is influencing the world around it – not the other way around.
TikTokers are no longer fringe users but rather mega media moguls in their own right (even if the average one is about 16 years old) with up to billions of fervent fans hanging on their every word (or dance). Among them, however, there is only one queen, hailing from one ‘royal TikTok family’… the D’Amelios.
DDW take a look at who these new social media royals are and what the future holds:
Undisputed queen amongst TikTokers is Charli D’Amelio, a young competitive dancer that exploded the ‘TikTok dance’ phenomenon to new heights, achieving over 100 million followers in less than a year – all before her 16th birthday.
This quickly growing fanbase has let to multiple collaborations with brands, Superbowl commercials, appearances on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and PFW’s Prada show, the launch of her own bank for teens and the subsequent fame of her entire family – starting with her sister Dixie and even her parents: Marc and Heidi.
As a company, TikTok was quick to back the D’Amelio phenomenon, understanding that this sudden burst of popularity proved the scope of the app’s prowess with competing platforms and elevated it from a secondary outlet to among the most downloaded applications in the world.
Not far behind young Charli is older sister Dixie (19), with over 47 million followers and counting. Where Charli excels at dancing, Dixie shines as a singer; releasing her first single “Be Happy” in June of 2020 and gaining over 60 million streams in less than 6 months. Subsequent tracks have already been released including a collab with Wiz Khalifa and a major record deal has been minted to take her to the next level.
Not content to just rest on her laurels, this year Dixie also starred in the YouTube web series Attaway General.
The patriarch of the D’Amelio family is/was running for US Senate. If that seems bizarre, perhaps it shouldn’t – Kim Kardashian’s husband Kanye West ran for President and Donald Trump was arguably elected based on his television persona but so were Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger for that matter. In any event, Marc is the co-captain of the D’Amelio’s new empire alongside his wife Heidi and already has 6 million TikTok followers thanks to his daughters.
Just like Kris Jenner in the Kardashian clan, the mother behind the magic of the D’Amelios is Heidi. Apart from having a sizeable multi-million person following herself, she is the engine that keeps the machine going and the momentum building for her daughters – and her family. A former Louisiana cheerleader, she understands what it means to be in the spotlight – and entertain.
The giant growth of TikTok in 2020 and the simultaneous build up of the D’Amelio clan has officially hit stratospheric heights. Today it was announced that the first family of TikTok will officially follow in the Kardashian footsteps and take their leap to television thanks to the Hulu network.
Like their Kardashian predecessors (who also announced a deal with Hulu last week) “The D’Amelio Show” will give fans a behind the scenes look at their lives outside of the short form video they are used to. This will mean huge new exposure and name recognition for those not yet fans via TikTok.
One thing is for certain – we can expect to hear a lot more about the D’Amelios in 2021. Get ready for a new reality TV monarchy to officially take their thrones…