Sixteen-year-old Ellie Zeiler is a TikToker from San Diego, California, whose videos have gone viral, amounting her over 4.2M followers on her platform @elliezeiler. Her contents range from dancing to cooking videos, as well as sharing meaningful activism videos. The Teen Magazine was able to feature Ellie on her story and hopes, as well as an accompaniment of a virtual photoshoot with photographer Kate-Yeonjae Jeong.
this sound is so satisfying lol
What was life like before your internet fame?
My life was pretty normal. I was just a regular teenager. I played golf at school, did my studies, and hung out with my brothers and friends. There wasn't any special fame that I had prior to my viral TikToks. It wasn't until that I was forced to quarantine during the COVID-19 breakout that I found my love for the addictively fun Gen Z app, TikTok. I found extra time to create content on the app, which grew viral.
What are your future goals?
My dream school is New York University. I'm interested in having a career in the field of real estate when I grow up. As of now, I may be an influencer, but I plan on continuing on with my scholarly studies.
I also definitely hope to have my own cosmetics line one day. Makeup is something I have always had interest in, and I hope to have my own products one day. I think it would be a very exciting thing to be able to create my own makeup for others to use.
Who is your role model? Who inspires you?
My mom is my role model, because she inspires me so much. She is such a strong woman and she holds a lot of wisdom and sage. I can always rely on her no matter the circumstances, and I really look up to her.
Another person I look up to is Millie Bobby Brown. I find it so uplifitng on how she handled fame at such a young age. Not only that, she is such a hard worker. She represents topics that she believes in that are ethical and good, and that is something I hope to do as well. As expressed, I also have interest in starting my own cosmetics line, which Millie also does- she owns the beauty line Florence by Mills. To me, it is stirring that not only is she a phenomenal actress, but that she is also a successful businesswoman as well.
What is it like being an influencer?
There is a lot of misconeptions that come with being an influencer. Before I went viral and became considered as one, I had misconceptions about others as well. Now that I experience it firsthand myself, I am starting to understand a lot more.
A lot of people may think being an influencer doesn't take that much time. Sometimes, that may be true, but in reality, it does actually take effort and time. You also have to keep a nice, positive stance at all times. For instance, if you were to post a video that had no emotion, it wouldn't be a huge hit with the audience.
I really love being an influencer because I get to have more connections with fun people. I like that I can reach out to other creators and be able to have conversations with them, and to just get to know them! Additionally, I love that I have a platform where I can use my voice to shed light on situations that I believe needs attention to.
What is the best part of being an influencer?
Just knowing that there are more people I can reach out to and talk is a great feeling. I love that as a creator myself, that I can reach out to other creators to talk to. I enjoy interacting with them, and making friendships and close bonds.
What are some downsides to this internet fame?
Many people comment some negative, terrible things. I suppose because since it is through a screen, they think it's slightly less of being mean. Maybe they think that I won't see their words.
But in reality, the creators do see the hate comments. I myself obviously see it.
The comments about me also judges me, when in reality, all they know me from is a fifteen second video. Those are definitely some downsides, because it never makes anyone feel good.
What advice would you have for other teenagers?
I see a lot of teens wanting to go viral on the internet. That is definitely understandable- because it is such a cool experience. TikTok especially is a platform where being viral is quite common, with the For You Page listing many content that has gotten thousands of likes.
However, I do want to suggest: it is important that if you wish to go viral, that your post is something that you want to be known for. For example, videos that are pointing out negative things and making fun of others is something you probably don't wish to be famous for. I see hate videos of me, and I know it's for the views, because they don't know me personally. Getting millions of views can be exhilarating, but I would definitely recommend that it be for something nice you want linked with you.
Another advice I have is to always be positive. It is so cliché, but it really is so important. This can change you for the better, starting from your mindset to your attitude. Positivity can benefit you and those around you.
What is something you want others to know about you?
I am a big activist for women's and human rights. Especially with the situations that are occuring right now, I love that I can use my voice to speak up on my platform to shed light onto these topics and spread word. From me speaking out, I feel that people are getting to know me better, because activism is something that is significant to me.
I am also passionate about encouraging girls to live their life authentically. I'd love to empower them to believe in themselves, and to support them trying not to be like everyone else.
Could you tell us about your involvement with activism?
I had a lot of people make fun of me for being Jewish in high school. In 2019, along with two of my best friends, we founded "Together as One." It's a movement for teens, by teens, that creates a safe environment for youth of all cultural backgrounds to share their experience dealing with prejudice. I speak out on the platform about my personal experience with anti-semitism, and I empower others to learn more about cultural diversity and acceptance. We get to talk and share about important ideas that we believe in.
I am also the captain of YAM, or Youth Action Movement, which is a Jewish youth group in San Diego.
Do you have any upcoming projects coming up?
Due to the coronavirus, I do not have any upcoming projects, although I am working on creating a YouTube channel!
Ellie Fun Facts
favorite movie: 13 Going on 30
favorite show: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
dream travel destination: Paris, France
pet peeve: when you have to ask a question more than once to receive an answer
strange fear: I am very superstitious. I get scared that if I don't do something, the unknown will happen to me.
favorite food: pasta
hobbies: filmmaking and makeup tutorials
Thank you Ellie for your interview and sharing your story!