Chasing TikTok Dreams in the ‘New Black Hollywood’

Producer/Director Lora Moftah
Reporter Taylor Lorenz

Watch on Friday, June 4, at 10 p.m. on FX and streaming on Hulu.

Kaychelle wants to be on TV. Rob’s chasing a million followers and a screenplay deal. Khamyra seeks financial independence, while Tray wants to earn enough money that his mother never has to work another day in her life.

To make their dreams come true, they’ve combined forces with other self-styled influencers at Collab Crib, a group house that doubles as a video studio in Atlanta, where a concentration of talent has helped attract other aspiring stars of Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

Those social platforms are where many of today’s young, ambitious creators are making their names — and fortunes. “This is more than just kids making videos on the internet,” says Kaelyn, another Collab Crib creator. “This is the new American dream.”

For some, that dream starts in Los Angeles, where influencer collectives living in decked out hillside mansions have no or very few Black creators. The residents of Collab Crib, by contrast, are all Black.

“There is drama — it’s the internet, after all — but also an overwhelming sense of community and camaraderie,” our internet culture reporter Taylor Lorenz wrote in December about Collab Crib and another Atlanta creator house.

Black creators have made and popularized some of the internet’s biggest trends, Lorenz reported, but they receive fewer deals from big brands and they’re consistently paid less than their white social media peers.

A new documentary by The New York Times follows Collab Crib on a 90-day blitz to rack up followers and win over sponsors. Watch as they pursue their dreams of internet stardom while contending with a society — and social media algorithms — that seem to put them at a persistent disadvantage.

“The New York Times Presents: Who Gets to Be an Influencer?” will premiere on Friday, June 4, at 10 p.m. on FX and streaming on Hulu.

Senior Editor Liz Day
Directors of Photography Carissa Henderson and Trevor P. May
Video Editor Pierre Takal

“The New York Times Presents” is a series of documentaries representing the unparalleled journalism and insight of The New York Times, bringing viewers close to the essential stories of our time.

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