Years ago, with zero prospects, Princess Sani joined a new social media platform called Musical.ly. Like many of her peers, she just wanted to watch videos.
Years later, that social media platform has grown to become TikTok, and she has become SheIsPrincess, a household name among the skit making set, in a new era of lip-syncing, challenges and slow mode videos across the internet. In the process, she has picked up almost a million followers.
Her rise to fame
“I didn’t take it seriously. I only watched videos,” she said of her early days on the app in an exclusive interview with Technext.
“I used to see videos on Instagram and I was like ‘okay, let me download this app,’” she said.
In those days, they were only a handful of Nigerians on the app, and they could see on a rank, who were the top users on the app. With a meagre 790 followers, she made the list. Not in any way the top, but close enough that she felt it was attainable if only she could devote more time to it.
“So I was Like, ‘how can I get to this number one?’” she said.
After she jumped on the slow-motion trend and did a video in late 2020, at the peak of the pandemic when TikTok was on a steady rise, that saw over 50,000 views, she got hooked.
The videos from her humble beginnings as an influencer she said were “whack…But I still kept on doing it.”
Months later, when Naira Marley’s hit “Koleyewon” become the trend, she would not let the opportunity pass her by.
She capitalised on it, churning out different videos of the trend, over and again, until she had her big break. Since then, she has taken to journaling every single milestone she attains.
I write it down. If I clock 100 to 200, I write it down and how many weeks it took me.SheIsPrincess
This, she said, is because she wants to know her progress. “So I can know how far I have come.”
How did she make money?
It will take a few more months before she started making money on the app.
I started making money when I was on 300,000 followers.SheIsPrincess
“It felt relieving because I took it as cruise before…I just kept on doing videos just because I want to make myself happy and make people happy.”
Even now that she has been able to create a steady stream of income for herself with her content creation, it all still feels surreal as she shies away from being regarded as “a businesswoman,” even though she is currently treading the path that content moguls from Bovi to Craze Clown have taken over the years.
“Yes it’s business, but I don’t even know…I don’t see myself as a businesswoman,” she said.
On women as caricatures on TikTok
Like many skit makers, the trend of making caricatures of women, and presenting it as the joke, has also proliferated on TikTok over time. Videos mostly by male content creators, who dress in exaggerated looks of women, pass no message other than feminity being a joke.
This has become increasingly popular on the app, which is used predominantly by GenZ, so much so that TikTok has to introduce stricter regulations to ban some of the content in February this year.
“It’s not cool, at all,” she said of them.
How does she manage fame?
Even though she was relatively well known, after the COVID-induced restriction eased in Nigeria, and she went to school, it felt strange how popular she had become, how well people knew her.
In her first year, with just under 50,000 followers, she could get away on campus with being famous and not being hassled by fans to take photos. But the curse that comes with fame soon caught up with her as her following grew.
“In my second year, I started using nose masks to cover my face…Sometimes when I go out even with a nose mask I’ll still see comments like ‘I recognise the way you walk’” she said.
TikTok in Nigeria
TikTok influencers in Nigeria have been steadily picking up steam, even on the global stage. So much so that TikTok now has an office in the country. And, just a few weeks ago, the platform hosted an event, celebrating the best and brightest members of the Nigerian TikTok community, and shining a spotlight on their work.
A snapshot of the content created at the event demonstrated the amazing contributions Nigerian artists make to the world through music, sport, entertainment, fashion and beauty.
Artistes, record labels, and music promoters flood TikTok to promote songs to reach a global audience, and users like SheIsPrincess help this through video content using the songs.
While some songs go global on TikTok without the input of the copyright owner as was the case with Pop singer, 1da Banton’s song entitled, ‘No Wahala’, some up. and coming artists patronise TikTok influencers to promote their songs.
TikTok should fix its algorithm
But more work tailored to the needs of Nigerian users is required for them to move forward, and fully compete with their peers internationally. Biting Princess the most is the algorithm.
For her to stay encouraged and do the work she loves doing, TikTok will need to fix its algorithm, she said.
The Tiktok algorithm is bad…You can just make a video today and be getting a million views, and you make another on the next day and be getting 1000 views…I use to get discouraged… it really affects us.
What does the future hold for her?
Even with more than 935,000 plus followers, she still says that there is more to be done. “There are some things I am working on,” she said. “I want to bring in new characters.”
Now, almost a year and a half since she started taking making videos seriously, and advertising for big brands, including Nigeria Idols and Cadbury, she said she will still remain with the ethos that lead her to start in the first place, “to feel happy.”
The main reason I started videos is for me to be happy and for people to be happy.SheIsPrincess
“Most times, I get comments like ‘Princess I was sad, thanks for this, it made me laugh,” she said. “There are times that I do a video and I just keep on watching. But there are videos that I do that I’ll be embarrassed to watch. And I’ll be like ‘this is not me. I don’t know this girl.’”
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