Charli D'Amelio on Hitting 100 Million TikTok Followers and Life in the Public Eye (Exclusive)
By Paige Gawley
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Charli D'Amelio is all about keeping it real with her fans. ET's Keltie Knight speaks to the 16-year-old TikTok star on Monday's episode of Entertainment Tonight, and the teen reveals how she's using her new book, Essentially Charli, to share more of herself with her more than 100 million followers on TikTok.
"I am a girl that likes to dance, and likes to spend time with her friends, and likes to be around her family. [A girl who] is very normal, and very down to earth and chill, and likes to just watch movies and have fun," Charli tells ET. "But when you look deeper into it, you see that I am not exactly the person that I portray myself on my TikTok videos. I usually look very put together. I usually make sure all my moves are perfect, but that's not how it is. I have friend problems. I have difficulty in school with being behind or maybe not learning as fast as everyone else."
"Everyone puts me on this place where, like, 'She's perfect all the time'... but this is the time when you're 16. This is when you make all your mistakes, and where you grow, and learn, and become a better person," she continues. "... [With my book, I'm] telling everyone what I want them to know, in the best way possible, where I don't have comments. People can say, 'That's not right. She should do this better. Why'd you do this? Why'd you put this in it?' It's a book. You read it and that's it. There's no place for negative feedback. This is a place for me to share who I am without having to hear anything."
One of those day-to-day things D'Amelio deals with is dating as a teenager, something that's only made more challenging by her fame.
"Having people involved in your relationships can break it," she says. "It can really tear who you are down as a person when you start noticing yourself getting into that sort of place where you're like, 'Wow, these people are more invested in seeing us fail than they wanna see us actually be happy together.'"
"I've had relationships before social media... Usually they didn't end well, but at the end of the day, we kept it to ourselves and moved on with our lives," D'Amelio continues. "[With social media], you make a mistake and you feel like you have to justify your feelings to everyone. That's not fair. I should be allowed to feel however I want. It's my relationship and it shouldn't matter to anyone else."
D'Amelio was inspired to be so open with her fans after growing up believing those she admired were perfect.
"I grew up watching people online and seeing how perfect they are and no one really gets into the, 'Hey, I'm not perfect. Hey, I have lots of things I want to work on to make myself feel better,'" she explains. "... At the end of the day, I still have to go to school, I still have to eat three meals a day, I have to clean my room, I have to do chores around the house... I feel like having people know I do those exact same things that they do is a little comforting and it brings us together."
"I don't want to put us on this pedestal that I am perfect 24/7 because I'm very much not," D'Amelio continues. "I have my bad days, I have my down days. I live a normal life at the end of the day, but I post on social media. I feel like so many people try to play themselves as perfect and I cannot be that person. I cannot do that to myself. That's too difficult."
Though she's resolute in her decision to be open and honest, her self-assured nature didn't come easily. Rather, the teen credits her dance background with making her strong and confident enough to unapologetically be herself.
"I grew up with a lot of anxiety and I kept every single thing inside of me. I feel like people don't understand the importance of movement and how dance can really change someone's life," she says. "If I was never put into dance, I would not have any confidence. I would not like myself and be able to go out and have people take pictures of me and post videos for millions of people to see it. I would have never been able to do that."
After hitting 100 million TikTok followers -- a milestone she celebrated by donating $100,000 to dance charities and studios -- and being named as the platform's top creator for 2020, D'Amelio's platform shows no signs of slowing down, a fact she doesn't take lightly.
"Hearing these stories about how I might have gotten someone to go back into dance lessons or had someone start feeling confident in themselves... it makes me feel so good that I can help, even if it's just one person," she says. "That's all that I really want to do with what I have. I feel like this book might help a lot to really let people know, 'Hey, you might not be feeling great right now, but you're not alone. There's a million other people that feel the exact way that you do and that's totally fine.'"
With the follower milestone, her new book and a bright future ahead, D'Amelio is proud of all she's been able to accomplish since coming onto the scene last year.
"I'm just proud of everything I've been able to do in such a short period of time. I normally don't talk about myself like that, but looking back and seeing people make videos of all the things I've been able to do in such a short period of time it's just like, wow, that's really crazy [and] something I obviously never expected," she says. "... I'm really proud of myself and especially the book."
Essentially Charli: The Guide to Keeping It Real is out now. Tune in to Monday's episode of Entertainment Tonight to see more of ET's interview with D'Amelio.