There is nothing abnormal about how Katelyn Elizabeth's journey to social media stardom began. Just like any other Generation Z teenager, Katelyn simply downloaded TikTok to “have fun with friends”. And now? After what can only be described as a whirlwind of a few years, the 19-year-old influencer is a shining light of the platform — having amassed over 1.9 million followers and frequently gracing the For You pages of many more users.
Our recent interview took place remotely via Zoom, with me sitting at my desk in the UK, and Katelyn calling in from her chic, Instagram-worthy LA apartment. Of course, in true influencer style, her camera and lighting angles are perfectly poised: illuminating her bright, gleaming smile.
And no wonder she is smiling. Katelyn is living her dream. “Not a lot of people are able to start a career so early,” she tells me. “I get so many amazing opportunities and I get to live out here in LA because of social media. It’s definitely something that I feel really grateful about.”
Katelyn's interest in social media emerged from watching videos of other influencers on YouTube and Musical.ly. “I’ve always been inspired because those people have always influenced their followers and that’s always been something that I wanted to do and, honestly, it looks really fun as well.” she says, “So one day I was just like: 'I’m going to try it'.” The success that followed, however, she says “kind of just happened”.
For most influencers, the success of their career can be attributed to one viral video or a short-term claim to fame. For Katelyn, however, she admits her progress was more “slow and steady”.
“I used to rarely post because it was just for fun, but then I started to gain and grow, and then I realized I could actually get something out of this,” she says, “So I started posting every day: Instagram, TikTok, whatever social media. And I used to dance, so I would learn a new dance every day and post that.”
“I think there was a period in time when I really started gaining, and that’s when I got a manager and started getting brand deals and such, and I realized I could really turn this into a career. Definitely really exciting.”
The Life of an Influencer
Social media was one of few industries to thrive during the pandemic. As more and more people became locked down, millions of people flocked to the platforms. In the first three months of 2020 alone, TikTok gained approximately 315 million new users — with other apps reportedly seeing similar increases. So, I wonder what it was like to have been a part of the online community that suddenly became a lifeline for so many during the last two years. “I think it’s amazing because most kids during the pandemic — or teenagers, or adults — are spending their time online to try and find that entertainment or that social factor that they’re not getting from not being able to hang out with friends,” she says, “So I’m really thankful that I’m one of the ones that people can watch and enjoy, to get them through the pandemic.”
Katelyn also admits that her social media has enabled her to meet new people, too. “It’s amazing to be able to contribute. All of us are like one community, I’ve gained so many friends through this. Definitely life-changing.”
However, as we all know, social media can have a toxic side. Katelyn remarks that she is grateful for not receiving very much hate online, but when spiteful comments do appear, she tries to not take it too personally. “I don’t let it affect me because I know it is just someone’s personal opinion,” she says, “Not everyone’s going to like you.”
A Message To You
As an influencer, Katelyn has the opportunity to use her platform to improve the lives of her followers. There is a vast array of messages that influencers advocate for, so I asked her which message she hopes to convey through her content. “Be yourself. It’s such an important thing,” she responds thoughtfully, “If you try to be someone else, you’re not going to be happy with yourself, and it’s never going to end well. So just from the start always be yourself, be who you are, and that’s how you’re going to be the happiest.”
As for her aspirations for the future? “There isn’t a specific thing that I want to do,” she replies tentatively, “but I definitely want to figure out what it is. So for now I’m definitely just going to continue being active and posting as much as I can, doing the brand deals, and continue with the opportunities that I can get and hopefully figure out what the one thing is that I want to do in the future.”
10 Quick Q's With Katelyn
Get to know Katelyn better with these 10 rapid-fire questions! Ready? Get set, go!
1. When you aren't creating content, how do you spend your free time?
Watching Netflix and hanging out with friends, mainly.
2. Favorite fashion trend right now?
The baggy jeans look
3. Your favorite TV show?
4. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Not only family but definitely my friends. All of my friends that also do social media have been a big inspiration to me just watching them grow and see what they accomplish from working super hard.
5. Who is your favorite influencer?
That one’s really hard- I don’t really watch or listen to many influencers other than my friends. The only one that I can think of… I love her fashion and everything — Ella Mendelsohn.
6. What is something you wish people knew about you?
I feel like a good amount of my followers might not know that I used to do gymnastics for about 4 years. I used to be part of a team doing competitive gymnastics, so I used to travel for meets often.
7. What is something you wish people knew about you?
I wish people knew more about my personality. I show it on the internet, but not fully. Not many people know who I really am. I feel like on my social media I’m mainly serious, and I’m not usually a serious person at all — I’m definitely messing around half the time! So I want to show that part.
8. What is one beauty product you can't get enough of?
Bronzer. I cannot live without bronzer.
9. Dream travel destination?
Somewhere tropical. Or somewhere like Paris.
10. If you could give one piece of advice to anyone, what would you say?
For one, to work on yourself before others, not in a selfish way, but think about yourself first, because you’re not going to be happy in general if you’re not happy with yourself.
Keep Up With Katelyn
Thumbnail image by @gabriel.stewart