How TikTok made one Bostonian a ‘not-so ravenous artist’
Potenza found fame – and income – during the TikToks pandemic. At a time when artists are looking for innovative new ways to interact with the public, the Boston-based comedian turned to TikTok as both a creative medium and a means of keeping food on the table.
Creating 60-second skits is Potenza’s full-time job: at the time of publication, she had more than 565,000 followers, with her video collection garnering 20.5 million likes.
“A lot of people think of TikTok as the app that kids use when there are really adults in that app who create really great content,” Potenza said.
Potenza never expected to become a social media star, sponsorships, or agent, but then again, she said she never expected anything to happen in 2020. And while her recent fame on TikTok came as a surprise, she always wanted to perform.
“I’ve been in the theater since I was five. I went to the theater in college, ”Potenza said. “But when I started TikTok, I really realized that people really wanted to watch me and see the jokes that I make.”
Her most popular TikTok series is called “Hell” and shows Potenza filling the roles of God, the devil and their respective assistants. The weekly one-minute skits poke fun at political figures, K-pop fandom, and other controversial cultural touchpoints. Her other skits include “Mansplaining” PSAs, slam poetry from “Tinder Bros” and an incredibly hostile “Rich Moms Brunch”. Since her first video went viral in January 2020 with over 1 million views, Potenza’s Notes app has been packed with sketch ideas, one-liners, and scripts. And with TikTok, the ideas that used to float in your head have brought a place to life.
“I decided I had nothing to lose,” explained Potenza. “A lot of people have told me to do stand-up comedy, but it scares me. That way I was able to publish my own comedy and jokes without facing a live audience. “
TikTok enables the same faceless, anonymous responses as other social media platforms, and with her growing popularity, Potenza saw hateful comments about her comedy and looks.
“One person insulted my nose, which is ridiculous – I have a perfect nose,” Potenza said. “But really, that’s when I realized that someone on the internet who says something about the way you look just wants to say something to hurt you.”
Despite her success, Potenza doesn’t want to do TikTok forever. When the world reopens, it wants to act again and finally try to get up. In the meantime, she has joined TikTok’s Creator Fund, which pays her a certain amount of money for every thousand views. In November, she had five videos, each viewed over a million times.
“It was really a blessing that I could stay safe indoors while making content and money,” Potenza said. “I’m actually a not so starving artist these days.”
So Potenza stays inside for the time being, filming and writing. But she looks forward to re-entering the world armed with her new skills and confidence as a performer.
“The only thing that got me through all of this is TikTok,” said Potenza. “As an actor, you often question your worth and how talented you are. But people really validated my work. I have never felt so confident in my abilities. “
Natachi Onwuamaegbu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.