Khaby Lame Only Started Doing TikTok Because He Was Laid Off In The Pandemic
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Khaby Lame first started his channel on TikTok after finding himself without a job amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Senegalese-born video creator may have just dethroned Charli D'Amelio and been crowned as the official king of the social media app, but two years ago, he was in a very different position.
In March 2020, opposed to now having a full-time job producing TikTok videos, Khaby found himself unemployed.
Situated in the northern Italian industrial town of Chivasso, Khaby worked as a young factory worker.
However, in the early days of the pandemic he was laid off.
Instead of applying for other similar jobs, he began uploading videos to TikTok.
"In March of last year, I opened my profile because I didn't know what to do when locked at home during the lockdown. The rest is history," he told Corriere.
Khaby's earlier posts started out with videos of him speaking in Italian.
However, they later evolved into wordless reactions, the focus instead on his dynamic facial expressions and reactions to life hack videos.
In an interview with The New York Times, he reflected: "It’s my face and my expressions which make people laugh."
He also noted how his expressions are a 'global language'.
Khaby now posts to TikTok almost every single day, as well as his Instagram Stories.
He reflected: "The secret is endurance above all."
At the time of writing, he has hit 142.2 million followers, taking over from Charli, who has 142.1 million.
Khaby told Corriere he 'didn't expect this success in the least'.
He said: "[Translation] The channel had a boom earlier this month and now I'm trying to keep it going. However, the ranking for me is just a number: of course, I'm happy to be the first in Italy, but my aim is simply to entertain people."
However, he also acknowledged the ever-changing nature of social media and trends.
"These days I am deciding together with my agency on which formats to focus on to diversify the contents. In any case, I would also like to measure myself against other platforms such as Twitch and YouTube," he said.
The TikToker hopes that his new job and popularity on the social media platform could help him support his parents, who currently live in social housing.
He said: "[Translated into English] Most people find it ugly to reveal that they live there, but for me it's a place to which I owe everything.
"[The housing] taught me education and allowed me to cultivate many bonds. I think, for example, of the friends I grew up with playing football on the playground. A real passion.
"Through TikTok it would be a dream for me to be able to help them one day, as well as my family of course. Just like me, both of my parents weren't expecting all of this and are delighted. I hope to continue like this."