While some TikTok stars are popular overnight, others grind hard in the hopes of reaping the benefits one day. Cape Town TikToker Kelly Ernstzen, 28, did it the long way but it’s now her career.
Today Kelly – known as “Kelly KiKx” on social media – is a full-time content creator, model, actress and dancer.
She began on YouTube in 2011 and then in 2015 moved to Musically, which is now TikTok.
For her, the platform provided a comfortable space to have fun and show off her dance skills.
“It has been a long journey from creating content since 2011 till now, but hard work definitely pays off,” she said.
Developing content and creating trends
The TikTok name @kelly_kikx is famous for dance.
It takes time as she must choreograph dance pieces, find music, plan shoots, then record. She also often collaborates with others.
“I have an entire to-do list on my phone and set goals for each day to keep me on top of things. Especially since I post a minimum of one or two videos each day,” Kelly explained.
She also dedicates time to scroll through her “for you” page to research new trends.
Kelly’s transition trend
In 2018, Kelly created the #infinitytransition trend on TikTok, and she did not expect it to go viral. The trend sees you transition through wearing multiple hats and hoodies, like a rollercoaster.
“That one trend changing everything for me.”
She said however that she did not “get much credit for it globally but it has been used by some of the big transitioners on TikTok around the world”.
“It’s still being used in almost every transition video you see on the ‘for you’ page today.”
Ultimately, the trend pushed her to establish and fight for creator rights in South Africa on TikTok. At the time, her video was not the first trend from a South African content creator to go global without recognition.
What TikTok fame means
“Because of where I started, I don’t take any of it for granted,” Kelly said.
The TikToker is verified and has 688 300 followers and 17.8 million likes.
Apart from her dance niche, she enjoys spending time chatting to her viewers, liking their videos and responding to their comments.
“I don’t see myself as famous and I don’t see them as fans, so I don’t treat them as such.
“They are the reason I can do what I love so if they bump into me in public, I won’t hesitate to talk to them or even make a TikTok with them!”
While the fame has not changed Kelly as an individual, she thinks her years on social media have made her stronger and more vocal when it comes to injustice.
Her next goal is to set a standard of quality content for South African creators so that they are seen as equals on a global scale.
The Kelly KiKx squad
Over the years, @kelly_kikx has hosted and attended numerous meet-and-greet TikTok events in South Africa.
“I am so overwhelmed by the turnout every time,” she said.
One of her highlights was hosting a dance workshop for her “KiKx Squad” – followers of @kelly_kikx. She stepped out of her comfort zone and mentored them in person.
Content creation myths and trolls
The biggest, and most common, misconception she thinks people have about content creating is that it is “easy”.
Coming from a background in the entertainment industry, Kelly likes to think of content creating as a film set.
“It’s made up of different departments, location scouting, talent, wardrobe, directing, videography, post-production and admin to name a few. All of which you are covering as an independent content creator!”
Despite a huge fanbase, Kelly also at times faces trolls on the app. Sometimes this is for unusual reasons, such as “not looking South African” and for “doing local style dances”.
However, she studied African dance for four years at the University of Cape Town.
“I’m much too grounded now to be bothered. I am secure in who I am, so when those trolls do come, I just ignore or educate where I can.”
Kelly’s professional advice
While there might not be any specific requirements to become a TikTok personality, Kelly urges users to just be themselves.
“You are your own brand, so you represent who you are and not TikTok.”
She leaves all future TikTok dance stars with these four tips, however:
- Do not let the numbers change your morals and values.
- Do what you love and do not allow negative words to stop your growth.
- Do not get comfortable but keep challenging yourself and keep practising your craft.
- Be willing to stay humble and be teachable.