TikTok star Niana Guerrero films a TikTok (courtesy Guerrero)

A Day in the Life of a TikTok Star

Niana Guerrero is only 14, but she already boasts 12.6 million TikTok followers—the kind of internet fanbase most people twice her age can only dream of. Of course, keeping up with her millions (and millions, and millions) of fans isn't easy. We spent a day with Niana to see what it really takes to be a TikTok star. —As told to Cadence Neenan


Morning

I usually wake up at about 6 am. That's one way my routine has changed because of the coronavirus—quarantine has made me learn to start my day earlier! Plus, waking up early means I have lots of good sunlight for filming my TikToks…

Right when I wake up, I check my phone to catch up on things for a minute: text messages from my friends, comments on my TikToks. Then I go downstairs, eat breakfast, and step outside to see the beautiful sun.

Before I start shooting TikToks, I usually spend a while browsing my "For You" page to see what trends there are. Whenever I see something I like, I save it. I can't really explain why I like some trends better—I'm just looking for a fun, vibe-y type of thing. I actually work a little backwards: Once I find a trend I like, I learn it right away, but I don't shoot the video till the next day. I like that better, because I can shoot a bunch of TikToks all at once, and I already know all the dances. It takes a few hours, but I usually learn five or six TikTok dances a day. I don't think I have a favorite TikTok dance I've ever done, but the hardest I've learned is definitely "Renegade." It's tough because it's fast, but it's really lit.

Afternoon

Once I've spent some time learning TikToks, I'll work on recording videos. How much time I spend recording really depends on how difficult the dance is, and how long it is. If they're easier, or shorter, it might only take me a few minutes. But even then, I do a bunch of takes. You look at my TikTok page, and you see tons of videos, right? Well, each video requires about a dozen takes, because I'm not always satisfied with how they turn out, especially the first time around.

The best advice I can give for filming TikToks is to just be yourself. You don't have to copy other people or copy the styles that other people do. If you want to put your own twist on the choreo, you can do that. Like, I brought my siblings into my TikToks. At first, it was just for fun, but then the people in the comments said they wanted to see my siblings more! Now, I love filming TikToks with them—we have so much fun learning the dances together.

I try to get off TikTok mid-afternoon. Then I'll go to my basement—we have a mini dance studio down there—and I'll dance more. I like to freestyle to R&B or hip-hop music, just vibing with the music, feeling the groove. I also take online classes through STEEZY. I guess that's the new normal since we can't take regular classes right now. If I'm not dancing, I'll play games like Fortnite. Or nap.

Evening

I like to get social media stuff done earlier in the day so I have free time later in the day. Another way that quarantine has changed my routine is that I spend more time with my family, which is really nice. We'll go outside during the sunset, to just enjoy it, and relax together.

After that, I'll try to get to bed. Usually, I try to get to sleep by about 10 pm at the earliest, but I definitely find myself scrolling too long on TikTok, of course. The app is addicting!

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Photo by Brooke Fera

Enter the World of the Knicks City Dancers with 2 of Their Newest Rookies

Auditions rarely fail to deliver on suspense. But this? This was the nail-biter to end all nail-biters. Hayoung Roh and Chelsea McCloskey, both professional dancers based in NYC, had made it through what felt like endless rounds of cuts, both on Zoom and in person. Out of the nearly 500 dancers (from 30 states and nine countries) who'd answered the Knicks City Dancers' open call for video submissions, just 20 remained—McCloskey and Roh among them. "We were separated into six holding rooms, where we kept trying to figure out the math," Roh recalls. "How many girls are there in total? Who was called back?"

Finally, the women returned to the audition room to dance one last time—or so they were told. Instead, KCD head coach Alyssa Quezada dropped her bombshell: All 20 women had made the final cut. They would be 2021–22 Knicks City Dancers: the latest and greatest edition of one of the most prestigious NBA dance teams. "It was the biggest celebration and the coolest moment of my dance career so far," says McCloskey now. And that was just the oh-so-perfectly-dramatic beginning.

Chelsea McCloskey stands on her left leg while kicking her right leg up with her arms crossed, a smile on her face. She is auditioning for KCD. Chelsea McCloskey Photo by Tess Mayer


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