How an elder millennial found his joy through social media.
By Greg Kata
This was never part of the plan. Although, if I’m being honest, I don’t really make plans and I despise phrases that commonly precede them like “Five Year.” But if I were the type of person that made plans, becoming a social media influencer on an app seemingly designed for a generation of gyrating extroverts would certainly not have made the list. And yet, here we are.
Tik-Tok came into my life as it did for most people: The Pandemic. After being relentlessly nagged by a friend to download it, I emerged from what I can only describe as a “content coma” twelve hours later, equal parts obsessed and terrified. For the first time since social media apps entered the cultural zeitgeist, I felt compelled to create. Amidst all the dancers and story tellers and chefs I consumed in that first twelve hours, I thought there might be a place for me.
Armed with two theater degrees and a rekindled passion, I posted my first video. And it bombed. Hard. Silly millennial, TikTok’s for kids! I could have given up then and there; and believe me, I almost did. But a voice in the back of my mind kept saying “keep going!” And when you start hearing voices, you either heed their advice or call your therapist. And since I was an uninsured and unemployed teacher that couldn’t afford therapy, I listened.
Two years and two million followers later, I am constantly asked “How’d you do it? What’s the secret?” This question always baffles me because it implicitly implies that there is a guidebook for success, other than the options people don’t want to hear about: passion, hard work and determination.
And while there are definitely short cuts in life, they will never yield the lessons and scenic learning that the longer journey provides. Furthermore, the entire point of art is that it’s a game in which everyone plays by their own set of rules.
Content creation, just like life, is not “paint by number.” And if I’m being truthful, I don’t know how I did it; I just stayed true to myself.
So my answer is always the same: “Passion and authenticity will always shine through.” Like I tell my theater students, I can teach you the tools, but I can’t teach you the passion. What I have loved about my TikTok journey thus far is that it seemingly is an app that rewards both passion and authenticity. Sure there will always be a viral dance moment sashaying across your screen, but that moment is as quick and fleeting as a paso doble. The passion on TikTok is like a long drawn out Argentinian tango; it stays with you even after you swipe up.
My content has evolved over these last two years as I have navigated my way through Covid, career changes, and new relationships.
While my “voice” has stayed authentic and relatable, it craves new topics on life to explore. But my passion for creating has remained constant.
Will it always be like this? Who can say? But I have no plans of stopping anytime soon. Then again, I don’t really make plans. I just enjoy the happy accidents.
Greg Kata is a teacher and actor in New Orleans. With his observational humor and razor sharp wit, he encourages his followers to “Find Their Joy!” and is one of the most engaged with accounts on TikTok for his demographic. When Greg isn't creating content, he can be found spending time with his boyfriend and dog.