There's never been a better time to enter the wild, wonderful world that is TikTok. And with celebrities from Reese Witherspoon to Tyga taking a stab at the latest video challenges, it's safe to say the platform has officially hit the mainstream. But what goes into becoming a TikTok dance trendsetter? And how can you create choreo that's tailored to the app's quirks—and mysterious algorithm?
In addition to starring as Gina in "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series," triple-threat Sofia Wylie has almost six million followers on TikTok. Her content ranges widely, but some of her most popular videos are of dance routines she choreographed herself. We caught up with Wylie to get the scoop on TikTok celebrity, and how to make dances for the app.
Dance Spirit: How did you first get on TikTok?
Sofia Wylie: I downloaded TikTok around November of last year. My older sister and all of her friends were on it, so of course I wanted to join in! I loved it right away–it's such a fun place to just be a teenager. It's also a very dance-heavy app, and I've enjoyed being able to bring my dance background into that.
DS: When did your account start to get attention, and how did it happen?
Wylie: When I first started posting, I would think, "Oh man, I hope this gets on the 'For You' page," every post. But the one that actually did was the TikTok I made dancing to Doja Cat's "Say So," a trend that was getting popular at the time. I remember when I posted that, I didn't even look at the app afterwards to see how many likes or shares I was getting. So of course, that's the one that went viral. It was crazy, but a good lesson to learn: not to focus on the likes, views, comments or shares, but to just put out whatever I want. What people really want to see is authenticity.
UMM kinda totally obsessed with this dance @yodelinghaley sis teach me ur ways♬ Say So - Doja Cat
DS: What have you been up to on TikTok lately?
Wylie: My favorite trend right now is definitely "Hips Don't Lie." I kept seeing it all over the place on my 'For You' page, so I finally learned it. I also made up this cute dance to "They Call me Tiago." It's this mashup of an original TikTok sound that I saw on my 'Trending' page. I like to show my acting and music sides as well, so I'll post scenes from the show or videos of me playing piano. I've also been doing a lot of my own lifestyle TikToks, whether it's my workout routines or my favorite sweet treat to make. I love dancing, of course, but that's definitely not the only part of me. People enjoy seeing who we are as just people on the Internet, not always the picture-perfect dancer side.
my mom was so proud she got the zoom in right🤧 dreams really do come true♬ original sound - global.jones
DS: What are some of your favorite accounts?
Wylie: I actually don't follow too many people, but I of course follow @charlidamelio, @addisonre and @avani, they're super popular. I follow all of my castmates from HSMTMTS, because they always have super funny content, and I've made them addicted to TikTok just as much as I am. I also love @emily.capshaw. She makes all these great videos about mental health and they're really insightful, so I've been enjoying those, even if they don't have anything to do with dance. But that's the thing about TikTok, there's so many different creators, so I usually just rely on my 'For You' page to discover what's new.
DS: How do you usually find music for the dances you choreograph?
Wylie: When I'm scrolling on my 'For You' page, if I find a song or sound that I really like, I'll definitely save it. I'll also go through my 'Trending" list and find different songs and sounds from there. Then I'll either learn a dance to something if it's already going viral, or I'll make one up.
pov: you wake up your new robot and set it to tik tok mode but it starts having a lil too much fun🤖 ib: @theanagarrett♬ BDASH Breathe - bdash_2
DS: How is choreographing for TikTok different than IRL choreo?
Wylie: If I'm ever teaching class at a studio, I definitely tailor it based on what style I'm doing and whether it's a beginner or advanced class. But with TikTok, there's kind of a different lingo of dance moves that people on the app are used to. I tend to recycle those moves and then bring in new ones. I want people of all dance backgrounds, or with none, to be able to do the dance. That's what's so fun about TikTok–every single human being around the world is able to do the same dance. When you're making one, that's important to keep in mind.
DS: What's your favorite thing about TikTok?
Wylie: I'll be out in public and sometimes I'll take pictures with people, but they'll also ask me to do a TikTok with them. And almost always, we both end up knowing the same dances and automatically do them together. TikTok is literally a new language–everyone knows the same steps and dances. It brings us all together.
DS: Do you have any advice for TikTok creators?
Wylie: Everybody says it, but truly, just do what you like to do. When you're scrolling through the app and seeing hundreds of videos on your 'For You' page, few are actually going to catch your eye. And if you're trying to be like somebody else and achieve somebody else's success, that won't work. You need to find your own route. For example, learn a dance trend, but switch it up and do it in a weird setting. It's important to do something outside of the box, but even more importantly, something that you enjoy.