App State student finds their voice through TikTok fame

Ansley Puckett, Reporter

The pink and teal music note representing the TikTok app is immediately recognizable to some as an app users spend hours scrolling through. Others view it as just another social media app. But, for a few, the app has become a platform to connect with millions. 

Ian Drewery, a sophomore photography major and TikTok star, has over 34.3 million likes, 1.1 million followers and is ranked No. 28 on for their birthday, just before Ethan Munck, who played Guppy on “iCarly.”

During their senior year of high school, when they were sick and bored at home, Drewery joined the app and slowly gained followers. The app was still called when they joined. 

“I just started goofing off on the app on that sick day, and I had a lot of fun. So, I kind of just started doing it every day for fun and never really stopped,” Drewery said.

When the app was rebranded as TikTok in August 2018, Drewery had more than 30,000 followers. It wasn’t until they posted two dance videos that their following started to pick up.

“There were two dances that I did that caught a lot of attention and became trends, and I was gaining about 100,000 followers a month, and it was really crazy,” Drewery said.

Drewery’s first dance to “Tia Tamera” by Doja Cat accumulated 734,500 likes and 222,400 shares and is now a popular dance trend on the app. In September, Jessica Alba posted a video of herself and the cast of “LA’s Finest” doing Drewery’s dance. The second dance to “Beef” by Flo Milli has over 960,000 likes and 437,900 shares.

 Drewery said the popularity of the dances is surprising. 

“I like to join in and add my spin on (trends), and there’s been a couple trends that I’ve started, which is really weird to me that other people have done stuff that I did and enjoyed it,” Drewery said.

The fame Drewery gained on TikTok has allowed them to foster relationships in and outside of the app, including introducing them to their current partner and allowing them to work with brands. 

“Some of the positives have been, obviously, the really sweet people that come up, and I have great interactions with them,” Drewery said. “The people that do have time to sit down and talk, and I get to know them, (they’re) really nice, and it really does make it feel more like a community, and I’m making connections with people.”

Lilly Ezell, a junior psychology major, followed Drewery right after they joined TikTok, and gravitated toward Drewery’s upbeat personality. 

“I want to say they were one of the first people I followed, and I don’t even remember what they had posted, but I just liked that they didn’t care,” Ezell said. “They were just kind of fun and quirky, and I didn’t even realize that they were (a student at App State).”

For Drewery, the experience is mostly positive, but a few encounters have made them think more about their safety more than ever before.

“I’ve had people that have found my phone number and have tried to stalk me and threatened me, and all of that kind of crazy stuff,” Drewery said. “Which hasn’t happened as often, but it’s a lot scarier when it does. Sometimes, there are downsides, and I’ve taken my privacy and safety into a higher standard of consideration.” 

Despite the negatives, Drewery said they hope to continue making videos and using their popularity on TikTok to build a brand and bring awareness to their photography.

 “So far, it’s been going well gaining the visibility on Instagram and everything. It’s definitely been helping with that, and I’m just hoping it can continue to be a positive experience in that direction,” Drewery said.

Ezell said seeing Drewery on the bus after watching them on the app was “wild,” but she’ll continue to enjoy Drewery’s videos.

“I think that is why I like them because you can just tell in their videos they’re just having fun,” Ezell said.