TikTok drag star Ellis Lloyd Jones on the painful reality behind his success
He has nearly 200,000 followers on TikTok and has people all over the world involved with his characters, but for Ellis Lloyd Jones of Rhondda, the road to success and happiness has been a long time coming.
In the new BBC Three series, Young, Welsh and Bossin ‘It, the third year student at Cardiff University, recount their journey from an insecure, bullied student to a cheeky, happy and funny TikTok success story, also driven by the Welsh Government has been engaged in spreading safety news throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Ellis of Treorchy doubled his followers during the 2020 pandemic with his cheeky drag characters, which he performs with confidence and confidence. But he also speaks of the “poisonous masculinity” that almost prevented him from realizing his dream of the performer.
“I started doing drag five or six years ago. It was basically an expression of my femininity. All my life I was told not to camp, not to play with the girls, to play rugby with the boys,” said Ellis.
“I started just doing my eyebrows and then it was eyeshadow, then a base and a contour, then one day I thought ‘let’s buy a wig’. I went online, got a wig for £ 25, tossed it on and i felt great, awesome. every time i drag my clothes i feel this way. i love the way i look.
“In my entire life, I’ve had no one who could look up to say, ‘It’s okay to dress up as a woman, it’s okay to be feminine.’ I’ve always had toxic masculinity in my throat. I like to think I’m that person for people. You can look at me doing what I want, be feminine and dress up and inspire you. “
Ellis’ characters include Hell’s Receptionist’s Gates, the Welsh TikTok toll booth and, for the Welsh government, Aunt Bac, who encouraged social media users to follow hygiene rules to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.
In a heartbreaking scene towards the end of the episode, Ellis visits his hometown of Treorchy, where he admits that he felt uncomfortable during his childhood and didn’t understand what it means to be gay and feels left out for being different.
“When I grew up in the Rhondda Valleys, I was bullied a lot in school because everyone knew I was gay. Even at times when I didn’t identify as gay because I didn’t understand. I became asked if i’m gay you fridge or freezer “and it was like” does that mean i’m gay? “he said.
“It was so confusing. All of these people were saying these negative things about being camp and being gay and I didn’t want to be like that because I didn’t want to be seen as something else or bad. I felt left out. I was bullied by the boys and by them Girls patronizing. To be honest, I felt like shit. “
In the scene, he and his mother talk about whether he misses being at home in Rhondda.
“Do you miss being home?” asks Ellis’ mother. And he tells her that most of the time he doesn’t do it because of the bad memories.
“I feel like when I see someone from that bad memory, I remember what happened back then. I feel fine, you’re Ellis from Rhondda now, not Ellis from TikTok.”
“This is killing me,” replies Ellis’ mother, disappointed with her son’s experience. “I know your life is in Cardiff now, and I love the fact that you can be who you want to be. But Rhondda will always be home.”
Most importantly, Ellis’ TikTok success has proven that he can do what makes him happy, and with 170,000 followers, he also makes many other people smile.
He added, “Since joining TikTok, I’ve proven to myself and other people that I’ve been told all along that I can’t do anything, and I can. If 12-year-old Ellis sees me now, he is ‘I would be over the moon. “
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But is he, as some see him, the “King of Welsh TikTok”?
“I still consider myself a regular Ellis in a third year,” he says. “I’m happy to say that I am who I want to be. The person I want to be is a person who is happy with himself.”
You can see more of Ellis on Young, Welsh & Bossin ‘It on BBC iPlayer.