Photo: Abrams Books / Contributed Photo
Sixteen-year-old Charli D’Amelio was living an ordinary life as a typical high school student in her hometown of Norwalk a little over a year ago. Today, she’s making social media history as the first person to officially hit 100 million followers on TikTok, having hit this milestone Nov. 22. And did we mention she’s publishing her first book?
The book, “Essentially Charli: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping it Real” which will be published by Abrams Books on Dec. 1, is filled with photos and stories of her life, being real and how she has dealt with cyberbullying and online haters. Her lifelong love of dancing, which is at the core of her viral TikTok videos, is featured, of course. In her quest to live her life authentically, she also offers advice for readers on how to deal with life’s challenges, the ins and outs of posting on social media and maintaining friendships in real life.
Harnessing the power of social media while taking the good along with the bad is something she has become very familiar with. As she grew her TikTok following by increments at first then leaps, Charli has had legions of supportive fans but also online trolls who are quick to write hateful comments whenever she uploads her videos. She and her sister, Dixie, use their social media channels to raise awareness for cyberbullying. As an advocate against cyberbullying, Charli has partnered with organizations like UNICEF to raise awareness on the negative effects cyberbullying has on young adults.
Controversy often goes hand in hand with fame. Just recently, a YouTube video featuring a D’Amelio family dinner they posted created a backlash from followers, seeing Charli lose nearly a million followers overnight. The backlash didn’t last long and within a few days, she not only regained but surpassed her numbers of followers to hit the 100 million mark.
While Charli jokes that her years of dance training didn’t prepare her for her TikTok style of dancing, she is a passionate supporter of dance. To commemorate her TikTok milestone, she announced that $100,000 will be donated Dec. 1 to the American Dance Movement, an organization that works to improve access to dance education with ten dance schools in the country each receiving $10,000.
In her videos, she not only stresses messages of living an authentic life but also embracing positivity. She has told followers, “I think I’m working on being a lot more positive in my everyday life because I realize comments and things can hurt.”
In an overall banner year professionally, Charli has gone from recording dance videos in her bedroom — the first ones appeared in TikTok in May 2019 — to voicing a character in the animated film, “StarDog and TurboCat,” TV talk show appearances, including the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” collaborating to create new products with beauty and fashion brands and being in a Super Bowl ad. Dunkin Donuts’ even named a drink in her honor, The Charli, for a limited run this fall, featuring a cold brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirl.
While keeping busy with her TikTok fans, regularly posting content there, Charli has expanded her outreach to other social media platforms and other avenues. She and her sister host a podcast and now she can add published author to her resume.
In the age of COVID-19, authors have gone digital to promote their books in lieu of in person talks, and Charli will do a virtual fan Q&A in real time with R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. to talk about her book. Tickets are available online and include a copy of her book.
Anne Heltzel, Executive Editor of Abrams Children’s Books/Amulet Books said, “We’ve been longtime admirers of Charli for her infectious confidence, killer dance moves, and astronomical ascent to fame. We loved getting to know her while working on this book — not only as a rare talent, but also as an endlessly interesting young woman — and we know her readers will too. Essentially Charli, which showcases her personality as well as her talent, will be the ultimate gift for her millions of fans.”
Andrea Valluzzo is a freelance writer.