Interviewed by Henry Petrillo
HP: You started your career off with your very successful Vine account – what first attracted you to the platform?
RT: I was just a kid from North Carolina. I knew that I didn't want to be like everyone else who just went to high school to get into college and stay in North Carolina forever. I always knew that I wanted to be a star and I realized that the opportunities to do that in North Carolina were limited. But my mom wasn't going to just pack up everything and just move to LA for me to become a child star. So, I was like what can I do? I first hopped on YouTube and Instagram trying to make little videos about things going on in my life, but it didn’t really go anywhere. One day my friend told me about Vine. I made an account and I just started going hard on it. I was so obsessed the whole concept of trying to be funny in 6 seconds. I did it for a couple of months and all of a sudden like I started my videos started blowing up. The success from Vine literally jump-started my career, jump-started my life in LA, which I am so thankful for. And for my friend that told me to get on.
HP: One of the reasons I think people love your content so much is how funny and relatable they are – is the relatability aspect something you try to focus on when you’re making content?
RT: Anytime that I make content it is very organic from me. I literally talk about whatever I'm feeling and I people have found what I’m thinking or feeling relatable to things in their lives. I'll talk about anything, but I just want to make sure that you laugh when you watch. I just do it my way and I've never really worried about what I should or shouldn't talk about.
HP: Obviously Vine has been replaced by a lot of other different apps as the go-to for sharing videos. What was your reaction when Vine started to be replaced and how did you adapt?
RT: I remember when everyone started coming off of Vine and I definitely had a moment what do I do next? I had been making Vines for like three years and I was really good at making content for that platform. When Vine ended, I decided to hop on YouTube because it seemed like that’s what people were doing in 2016. I had to change my style somewhat and ended up doing look-book videos because I've always been into fashion. But then my best friend Denzel was like, "Rickey, this is not you." And I noticed my Instagram wasn't growing, nothing was popping off and my views weren't the best. That realization encouraged me to start making funny videos again on Instagram. I was worried because I had tried to do that type of thing on Instagram before and it didn’t really go anywhere. Denzel pushed me to try again and so I got on Instagram and I really went hard posting every day. At first it was very challenging because it was longer than six seconds and I remember being like, oh my gosh, these have to be funny for a way longer time. But once I got the hang of it, I started to love it even more than Vine. I felt like I could say more, I could get the joke out and I could do whatever. And I'm still going at it.
HP: A lot of people struggle with the negative pressures and consequences of social media, is that something you’ve had to deal?
RT: Yes, I have actually. I decided to take a little social media break a couple of months ago and I just really wanted to chill out for a moment. I've been posting every day since 2018, making sure I was always putting out content. It was challenging during quarantine because I usually get all my inspiration through what I'm doing in life. It was a very frustrating moment to not have inspiration for content and I felt like I really just needed to be with myself and just be safe. The break helped me take time to rebrand myself and think about the future. We’ve been in quarantine for a minute, and now I’m back on and posting again. It’s time to bring it back, ready for the new year.
HP: You’ve also launched your podcast ‘We Said What We Said’ with your best friend Denzel – how did the idea for that project come about?
RT: This has been something that we've been working on for about two years, but it finally got picked up during quarantine. It was so easy to do during quarantine because Denzel lives down the street for me. I just went over to record, and we had the time to do it when everything was on pause. We talk about everything and its been so much fun.