Benji Krol is a self-described soft-boy, known for painting flowers on his face in TikTok videos.
Over Zoom call, 20 year old Benji Krol is open and laid-back, with a warm personality and an easygoing smile (and of course, that signature fluffy hairstyle).
The star first gained popularity on video-sharing site TikTok in 2019 for his dreamy-aesthetic videos, loveable personality, and makeup-process videos. Now, Benji has reached staggering success on the app, and off of it: his TikTok following recently reached 18.3 million followers, with his newer YouTube channel standing at 1.25 million subscribers and his Instagram reaching 2.2 million subscribers.
The Beginning, and Staying Grounded
It started small, however. Before full-fledged makeup videos, Benji used to steal makeup from his mom for subtle touch-ups. Later, he gained more confidence with bolder looks.
He still remembers the video that initially propelled him to stardom: a cosplay of the boy-version of Vanellope von Schweetz, of all people—a character from Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph—after viewers told him he bore a resemblance to her. The video went viral, and Benji got his first taste of internet fame.
He kept it to himself initially, however, saying, “I was a little bit insecure about what everyone at my school thought...Even in my own family, I was like, I kind of want to keep this to myself. So I kind of just thought of it as my own little bubble. I didn't really tell many other people. But like, obviously, people from my school saw, my friends saw, so they would ask me about it.”
Though the fame obviously opened new doors for him, Benji stressed the importance of staying grounded through his close school friends. “I love having them because they're so supportive of everything I do,” he said, adding, “They're always giving me ideas. And it's nice to have friends who don't do social media because it brings you back into real life. Having people who aren't part of [social media] who can take you into the real world again, and you can go have lunch with them. You can go on walks, you can go, I don't know, rollerblading, and not thinking about creating content is really good to have.”
Krol’s parents didn’t understand social media at first, he explained, laughing, but they’ve grown to be extremely supportive, as have the rest of his friends.
A Whole New World
Becoming a popular creator on the app has come with its benefits, including introducing Krol to a world of other creative creators like himself. Benji is close to Abby Roberts, UK native known for her dramatic makeup looks on Tiktok, and her sister Charlotte Roberts, also a makeup artist.
Krol looks up to the TikTok community as a whole, praising the ability of creators to bounce inspiration off each other. He loves the smaller account @jumpingspiders especially. “I look up to a lot of people who know what they're doing, like James Charles. There's a lot of really, really talented smaller creators who I think I look to all the time.
I think if anyone went to my account, I'm always crediting the people who inspire me, or just look through who I follow. All those people really inspire me a ton,” Benji said.
The world of TikTok has come with its pitfalls, however—“I've kind of learned though, as you make more and more friends, it's hard to keep up with everyone you know. And it's hard to find people who really truly want to be friends with you, rather than just get something out of you,” Benji said.
“I've come to realize,” Benji added, “It's better to keep a small circle because it can get kind of hectic in your life, if you surround yourself by so many people. That's why I'm so happy to have my friends like Abby and her sister Charlotte, and a couple of my other friends, because I can really tell that they want to be my friend for me—not because we just create content together.”
Tiktok, Content, and Creativity
Benji has made videos inspired by a myriad of trends—his clown check videos, in which the video flips back and forth between a normal looking Benji and a Benji in terrifying clown makeup, has been especially popular. One of his favorites, however, has been the school photo shoot trend, in which TikTokers dress as different stereotypes (nerd, jock, rebel, etc.) while posing for school pictures. “It took a long time,” he said, laughing, “But when you finish and you finish editing it, it’s so worth it and so satisfying to be like, ‘Oh my god, I made that.’”
Krol has a love for editing, which he shows off both in his faster-paced TikTok videos and on his YouTube channel with longer, less edited content. “YouTube is fun because...you can film yourself, like, just like eating food, and you can edit it to make it so entertaining. But with TikTok I like bringing a whole storyline to life through editing. I like playing with that more because there's endless possibilities.”
The Long Road: Dealing with Criticism, Mental Health, and Personal Growth
Throughout his journey as a TikToker, Benji has dealt with his share of criticism. Benji spoke about the effects of receiving negative comments. “A lot of people love to come up with their own little theories about things or criticize you for every little thing you do. And I mean, it has, I do come across [negativity] a lot.
And it does impact me sometimes. But I've kind of learned to ignore it,” Krol said. Talking with other TikTokers who share much of the same experiences, he elaborated, has helped, as well as seeing a specialist.
Tiktok has affected his mental health, Benji asserted, adding, “There are moments where I'm like, I don't know what to do...People in the comment sections are always so intense. And they think like, ‘Oh, they’re behind the screen,’ or ‘Oh, they're just a random video online.’ So they think commenting on it won't affect anyone.”
But it hasn’t all been bad—“I'm so much more confident, I like to think I can be myself now. And I just like, look at the world in a better light because of TikTok,” Benji said. “My mental health has gotten so much better...and I think from now on, I hope just going up.”
As for the future? “I just want to keep doing what I do,” Benji said, “Eventually, I've been talking with Abby [Roberts] for so long, I want to move to Los Angeles, and maybe we would get a place together. So it'd be so fun we thought to go to the US and be able to work with all the other creators we love and also be able to continue to work together.”
Eventually, the TikToker has aspirations of making and selling a makeup product, specifically blush, which the star is known for exaggerating in his makeup looks. And who knows? Maybe merch is in the works, too.
“I kind of just like going with the flow and like seeing where what I'm doing in the moment takes me,” Benji said, grinning.
Finally, Benji took a moment to share his gratitude for his fans. “I really just want them to know that anytime they give me a comment or suggestion, it really helps me, not only mentally, but they inspire me so much. I just really appreciate any bit of positivity that they bring to me.”
Benji’s future aspirations may seem mysterious, but fans can be sure—they will continue to see his spunky editing style, quirky makeup videos, and trend remakes on TikTok for a long time to come.