Tabitha Brown Breaks Down Her Catchphrases and Rise to Social Media Superstardom (Exclusive)
By Antoinette Bueno
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Tabitha Brown is reflecting on her life-changing year, as her social media superstar status resulted in several high-profile projects. The 41-year-old vegan foodie first went viral after she posted a YouTube video of herself thoroughly enjoying a "TLTA" sandwich -- tempeh, lettuce, tomato and avocado -- from Whole Foods in 2017. She now has over 2.6 million followers on Instagram and over 4 million followers on TikTok. She recently got her own web show on Ellen DeGeneres' network, and also now has a biweekly segment on Vogue's Instagram.
Brown recently spoke to ET's Deidre Behar about her incredible popularity on social media.
"You know what's so crazy? I had never wanted to do videos anyway," she surprisingly reveals. "I never wanted to do anything with food. I had this dream, because I was sick. I was sick for a year and a half. And I wasn't able to audition anymore. I wasn't able to do my acting. I was depressed, I had anxiety. I had a dream while being sick. I saw myself on a show. I had my hair in a little afro and I was very happy and free. And I thought, 'OK God reveal that to me, what is that?' And in my prayer, I heard him say, 'Start doing videos.' I didn't want to do it. But I had also made a promise to God that if he had healed me, I would do whatever he asked. I said 'OK, I'll start doing videos.'"
"At first I started doing videos about the same mom and wife stories I would tell onstage as a comic," she continues. "But then when I went vegan, the voice that I heard that said start doing videos whispered in my ear and said, 'Now tell people what you're eating.' And I was like, 'Oh my God, I have to tell people what I'm eating.' I went vegan, oh my goodness."
Brown told ET the story behind her first viral video.
"I had never had vegan bacon," she explains. "But I was like, 'Vegan bacon, honey, sign me up.' Add a pickle on there, girl, let me have it. And so I sat in my car, ate the first half of the sandwich so fast, I said, 'Oh, wait a minute. I need to do a video to tell the people I found another option because that's what I would do.' So I did a video to tell people I found this new sandwich. I posted it on Facebook. Went back to driving Uber, I didn't think nothing of it. My notifications are not on because nobody was really watching. I get home, go to my Facebook and turn my notifications on. My phone was buzzing like an Amber Alert or something, girl. I was like, 'What in the world?'"
"The video had over 50,000 views," she continues of the life-changing moment. "I was like, 'Who is watching this video?' The next morning had over 100,000 views. I told my husband, 'I think I'm going viral.' He was like, 'What does that mean?' I was like, 'I don't know.' He was like, 'Are you going to make any money?' I was like, 'I don't know.'"
Brown ended up becoming a brand ambassador for Whole Foods after the company saw her video. Her daughter later suggested she join TikTok, and the rest was history. Surprisingly, despite her massive popularity, she still hardly plans her videos.
"But the concept and all that is just, I like to keep it real because I just think that's what makes it more relatable," she shares. "Like, be real. I don't want to edit. I want them to get exactly what I give them."
"I don't even plan what I'm going to cook," she also shares. "If I have a taste for something, that's when I'm like, 'What do I have a taste for today?' That's what I'll cook. And if I haven't made it already on TikTok, then I'll share. ... But I just think that's the best way to do things."
She also talked to ET about a few of her charming signature catchphrases, including "That's your business" and "Like so, like that," which she says are now trademarked.
"But it was just a natural thing," she says about saying "that's your business." "And that's how I live my life. I live my life like it's my business. I always tell people, 'Our life is our business and if you don't treat your life like a business, you're going to go out of business.'"
"It's so funny because these catchphrases are natural thing for me," she continues. "So when I started doing the TikTok, I didn't have that much time, so I couldn't tell people how much. So the best thing I could think of was, 'like so, like that.' You know? 'Like so, like that.' Put a little bit of this, put a little bit of that. It just came out, 'Like so, like that.' It just made sense, so I guess it was just a natural thing for me."
As for her phrases "very good" and "Have a good day, and even if you can't, don't go messing up nobody else's," she says she got these from her father.
"That's how my daddy raised me," she says. "And to this day, I talk to my daddy every day -- that's how he ends our calls. He always tells me that. He always will tell me that. He says, 'Hey, you have a good day, but if you can't, don't you go out messing up nobody else's.' He always told me that. It just stuck with me. And so I just always started to say it to the people at the end of my shows and it stuck."
"You know, [Erykah Badu] just re-posted me one day and I was like, 'Oh honey, listen, listen," she shares. "I love Erykah Badu, honey. I think I thought I was Erykah Badu back in the day. ... I love love love Erykah Badu. And that one was a big moment for me."