Within the past few years, the app, TikTok, has grown to be one of the most popular social media platforms. With the popularity of the app, many people have utilized the opportunity to create content to share with thousands around the world—including students right on my campus!
My name is Jessica Caampued. I’m a junior at Temple University studying Psychology, and I’m currently Campus Philly’s TikTok intern!
Many young people have been able to create a career from TikTok, including several college students right here at Temple University. As a Temple student, I was interested in learning more about these students and hearing all about how they develop their content.
I got the chance to speak with some of our local TikTok stars on campus to find out what it’s like being a Philly-based TikToker in college. Check out my interviews below!
Lexis Trechak (Temple, 2023)
Lexis Trechak is a junior Speech and Language Hearing major at Temple University from East Brunswick, New Jersey. Ever since she was young, Lexis has always joked about becoming famous. Today, she is living that dream, posting comedic skits to over 900K TikTok followers.
Campus Philly chatted with Lexis about her experience being a Philly student and TikToker:
First off, how did you get started on TikTok and what was your first video to go viral?
“Right when I graduated high school was when I first made my account. Once I got to freshman year of college I was like: ‘Okay, my goal is to go viral.’ I would keep posting stuff and it would get like 50 views max. I just kept posting things and one video I posted in January of 2020 went to one thousand views and I thought: ‘Wow, that’s a lot,’ and it kept blowing up and got to 300K views and I was so content with that. I continued posting videos after that because I really enjoyed it. Some of them stuck, some of them didn’t.
Right when Covid hit, I posted a video in April of 2020 of my brother. He built an actual rideable roller coaster in our backyard and I posted a video about that and it got seven million views—it was crazy. ESPN even posted it at some point! I got around 100k followers from that and since I already made it that far, I thought to just keep going and creating content. That’s how I ended up where I am today!”
Wow, with gaining millions of views so quickly, how did it feel as you started to grow on TikTok?
“It was so cool because ever since I was little I always said: ‘I want to be famous,’ as a joke, and now I’m actually blowing up, people are seeing my videos, and it’s so weird. I remember there were these two people from Temple who made a ravioli TikTok, and the fact that they went to Temple, had a viral video, and had 25K followers made me fangirl so hard. I thought, ‘They have so many followers, they’re famous!’ When I passed that number of followers, I was like ‘They don’t know who I am, but they have to fangirl over me now that I passed them!’ I just thought it was so funny and crazy because I was obsessed with their hilarious video for so long and then I passed them—it was a cool feeling.”
You’re really living the dream now! Has your life changed in any other ways since joining TikTok?
“Definitely. I think it gave me a lot more opportunities than ever before, just based on my profile being out there and people knowing who I am. I get recognized a lot by a wide variety of ages, which is really cool. I get a lot of sponsorship deals. I never thought I would be an influencer, so it’s cool now promoting products that I have purchased before. A few weeks ago I got asked to audition for a TV show—and it was super cool. Stuff like that didn’t happen until TikTok, so it’s definitely given me a lot more opportunities and outlets. I’ve also made a lot of friends through TikTok. It’s crazy how much my life has changed.”
With getting recognized so often, has your life changed on campus in any way?
“Definitely! People recognize me a lot and know who I am. I’m the President of Reflections Dance Company, and since a lot of my content is directed towards dancers, I had a feeling that people would probably know who I am when coming onto it. So many of them have opened up to me, telling me a couple weeks into the school year that they knew who I was. At Temple Fest, the club fair we have, about 30 people came up to my table and recognized me, it was so crazy. I didn’t expect that many people to know who I was, but it was really cool. I’m also a tour guide so people will come on my tour and slowly realize who I am. I’ll get a comment on a TikTok later saying: ‘You were my tour guide and you did great.’ It’s so cute and fun.”
Being in so many extracurriculars activities, how do you balance content creation and school?
“With some classes being online, it makes it a little bit easier. Two out of my six classes are online, so it makes it a little easier knowing the time of day that I’ll be home around my apartment. It is tricky when it comes to sponsored content because I have such specific deadlines. I have to make sure to work that into my schedule because at this point it is an income for me, and I have to treat it like a job. I need to make sure if someone is hiring me that I get it done by the deadline.”
What made you want to go to school in Philly?
“I grew up 45 minutes outside of New York City, so the city was something that I always enjoyed. I wanted to try something new, but I didn’t want to be too far from home. When I visited Temple, it just checked off all my boxes—the fact that we have an actual campus but are also in the city and get to experience so many opportunities. I love that Broadway national touring shows come to the city and I can go see them literally 15 minutes away. I’m all about the arts, I love participating in those things, so being in a city allows me to stay involved in everything that I enjoy.
Right! It’s so convenient that you can go to shows just 15 minutes away. Are there any other places in the city you like to go to?
“I just took a pole dancing class at Flaunt Fitness the other day and that was super fun. I go to Koresh Dance Company to take open classes so I like going there. I also like going to the Kimmel Center to see shows. Chinatown and Rittenhouse are also really nice!”
Last question: What is your favorite thing about Philly?
“I like the scenery. It’s very much a city, but there’s also Cira Green or Penn’s Landing. There’s different things to do within Philly that make you feel a little separated from the city. All the different aesthetics of the city—I love it.”
William Hornby (Temple, 2022)
William Hornby is a senior at Temple University from Baltimore, Maryland. He has earned his BBA in Business Management and is currently working towards completing his BFA in Musical Theatre. Hornby uses his platform to represent men with eating disorders, creating the male eating disorder recovery content that he was not able to find when he needed it.
Reaching more than his 350K followers, Hornby has been able to create a conversation around men with eating disorders and break the stigma surrounding it.
Campus Philly spoke with William about his journey on TikTok and living in Philly:
How did you get started on TikTok and what was your first video to go viral?
“My first TikTok that went viral was the second TikTok I ever posted, which was a pumpkin of the muses from the Disney movie Hercules. I carved 18 pumpkins last October and gained around 13K followers from doing that. I thought it was a huge deal and was super excited about it.
Then, I transitioned last year into making eating disorder recovery content, because I was finally in a good place with my eating disorder. I had really needed a guy to be talking about eating disorder recovery when I was struggling and I couldn’t find any men who were talking about it in a non-triggering and helpful way, so I wanted to start making what I didn’t have for other people. Now, I’ve been doing that for over a year and I have much more visibility than I ever expected in my life. I know the content I make helps people, and helps people get help, and that’s really important to me, so that’s the reason I do it.”
It’s amazing you’re able to help so many people. How did it feel when you started to grow on the platform with your content?
“It was very overwhelming. You can’t be responsible for someone’s mental health through the internet as a non-mental health professional. Overall though, the response is incredibly positive. I constantly get messages that say things like “your content saved my life.” I personally would never take credit for that, but I do view it as I’ve helped people save their own lives, and I feel very good about that.”
You’ve been able to have such a great impact on people through your content. How else has your life changed since starting your account?
“It has given me the opportunity to make a lot of friends with people I never would have expected I would become friends or acquaintances with. The reach TikTok has given me, in terms of reaching out to the people I admire, has been tremendous. I’m friends with people who I admire; people who make content that I genuinely enjoy. I also launched a music career recently with my debut single “Clay” and I’m planning on releasing a lot of other music—and it’s gotten a really positive reception. I’m really proud of it, and I don’t think I would have had the courage to do that if none of this had happened, so I am immensely grateful for all of this.”
Has life changed on campus for you at all?
“It hasn’t changed much. I’m in the musical theatre department here and all of them have known me and I’ve known them for a really long time. Because my life is so secluded in that one specific community, I don’t meet a lot of new people. This is my 5th year here so I’m not incredibly involved in campus living. I only go onto campus for classes and I’m usually wearing a mask outside and inside, so that usually prevents people from recognizing me, but not always.”
With TikTok and your newly launched music career, how do you balance content creation and school?
“It’s like balancing any job: you have to prioritize whatever is most important at that moment. This is how I make money, and it’s the most meaningful work I do in my life, so it is very much my job and very much my greatest priority, but also I still have to finish school, so I have some school work to prioritize as well. It’s all about balance.”
You’ve almost finished earning your degree. How exciting! What made you want to go to school in Philly in the first place?
“I chose Temple because I really loved their musical theatre program and it is pretty conveniently close to everywhere I need to be. It’s a solid 2 to 2 ½ hour drive from everywhere I go. I also like this city quite a lot—it’s a good place to be. It’s kind of like Baltimore but larger, so Philly feels familiar in the best way.”
What are your favorite places in the city to go to?
“My favorite places to go are Wissahickon State Park and Victor Cafe. Victor Cafe is a really wonderful Italian restaurant in South Philly where all of the waiters are opera singers, so it’s a really fun place to go. I also love the Kimmel Center; the roof of the Kimmel Center brings me a lot of joy. Being inside and looking up—it’s a really magical place to be. I also really love Rittenhouse Square, especially in the snow.”
Britta Grace (Temple, 2020)
Britta Grace is a recent Temple University graduate from Doylestown, PA. Britta graduated with a BA in Advertising and now uses her TikTok platform to spread positivity and self-growth tips to her 66K+ followers.
Campus Philly got the chance to chat with Britta about her experience on TikTok and living in Philly:
First up: How did you get started on TikTok and what was your first video to go viral?
“I actually started TikTok as a joke. I saw my best friend absolutely consumed by it and would tease her about it. Then, I made an account and understood why it was so addictive! I think my first video to blow up was a skit I made about different types of girls at the bar.”
Has your life changed since joining TikTok?
“My life has completely changed since joining it. I didn’t really get super into posting consistently until I moved out of my parents’ house. I had a lot more room for creative ideas when I was alone, and thought it would be cool to share my story on my account. People loved how I took control of my life by quitting my 9-5 and moving into a beautiful lofted apartment AND people were starting to like me for me. I’ve done Instagram my whole life and granted, have grown a great following and community there, but TikTok allows you to show your personality more, rather than just smiling and posing for the camera. TikTok also gives you access to MILLIONS of people around the globe, so connecting with people from different cities and countries is something you could really never do on any other social media platform.”
I love that you’re able to share your story in such a creative way. Do you have any advice for anyone who is trying to grow on TikTok as well?
“Three things. 1. BE YOURSELF. The beauty of TikTok is that there are ONE BILLION users. Be yourself and find the people that like you for you! 2. DON’T OVERTHINK IT, JUST POST!! A lot of people put too much time and effort into overthinking their content. My content that gets 500k+ views and thousands of followers are the ones that I put minimal effort into that are relatable, story-telling, inspiring, or entertaining. 3. POST AS MUCH AS YOU CAN and see what hits the algorithm, then continue to make content that fits that niche. Once you grow a large enough following, then you can expand your content pillars, or dive deeper into the one that the people really love. Do what feels authentic to you.”
With the different types of content you create, how do you balance content creation with other aspects of your life?
“I like to batch content! I create a ton of videos 1-2 days a week, then post them throughout the remainder of the week. However, since my life IS content creation, my brain is always ‘on,’ thinking ‘Ooohh, this would look so good filmed this way’ or ‘I know a song that would match perfectly with this moment’ etcetera.”
What made you want to get your degree in Philly?
“When I was going through the college process, I actually wanted to go to a school as far away from my hometown as possible. My parents encouraged me to apply to one school that was in-state, so I picked Temple because I knew a lot of people who went there and it was right in the city. When I visited all of the other colleges, none of them felt right. But when I visited Temple, I was immediately drawn in by the drive, enthusiasm, and brilliance the faculty and people on campus radiated. The opportunities for growth were things I’ve never seen before. I felt butterflies sitting in that auditorium during accepted students day. I never felt so sure of something in my life.”
Temple really has a great atmosphere with so many opportunities. What else did you like about going to school in a city?
“The accessibility to the city. You weren’t confined to one area within the campus—you had an entire playground of skyscrapers, restaurants, parks, farmer’s markets, breweries, libraries, museums… you name it, Philly has it. Living in a city at such a young age, you get real-world experience that far surpasses anyone who ended up somewhere remote. It gives you a different perspective on life, and gives you the opportunity to really get outside of your comfort zone and try different things to see who you really want to become.
The opportunities for internships, jobs, and organizations are unlimited. The networking in and around the city is extraordinary. The different walks of life that not only Temple University housed, but that the City of Philadelphia is home to, is unimaginable. You really get to experience people who are completely different from you, and learn 10x faster what the “real world” is actually like. I wouldn’t change my time at Temple or my time living in Philly now for anything. Philly has molded me into the person I am today, and I owe this city everything.”
What’s your favorite thing about the city?
“The proximity of everything. Don’t get me wrong, Philly is a massive city, but you can get from East Philly to West Philly in 20 minutes. It feels like one big XL neighborhood, and the Philadelphia pride is unmatched. I love the people here. I love the restaurants and parks and organizations. I love the community here. I feel like I belong here.”
Right! It’s so convenient being able to get from one place to another so quickly. What are your favorite places to visit?
“My favorite places to go are:
- Rittenhouse Square Saturday Morning Farmers Market for fresh flowers, produce, and in the fall, apple cider donuts
- Mission Taqueria for a special occasion or post-work dinner
- The Continental for a girls night out
- Sampan for Happy Hour
- STUMP in Northern Liberties for house plants
- El Vez for their blood orange margarita and chicken enchiladas
- Harp & Crown for craft cocktails and a bowling speakeasy
- La Colombe for an iced oat milk dirty chai latte
- Double Knot for a romantic candle-lit date night
- IndeBlue for the best Indian food in the city”
Being a TikToker is more than just making videos to post on the internet. There are many layers to TikTok stardom, even making it a full-time job for some. TikTok has created a field of opportunities for young people. It is a platform that allows people to reach others across the country, and touch the lives of thousands.
With the amazing content Philly college students have been making, I want to know more about influencers on YOUR campus! Are you a content creator at a Philly-area college or university? DM us on Instagram to be featured in our next series. And, of course, follow Campus Philly as we grow our own TikTok!