For most of 2020, our world has been reduced to the experiences we have on our phones. And TikTokers have been leading the charge in creating viral entertainment that keeps us scrolling for hours and hours. So this year's PAPER People shifts its focus exclusively to TikTok — the breakout app our President wanted to ban, that launched sleeper hits and massive pop careers, that ushered in an entirely new generation of influence. Meet our 20 favorites across comedy, fashion, social justice and more, who are owning their spaces and racking in millions of likes. (And follow PAPER on TikTok).
Working with her own locs as a sculptural medium, artist Laetitia Ky is the face of a veritable Black hair movement. Whether she's commenting on anti-abortion laws by shaping her hair into fallopian tubes or giving in to TikTok fan pressure and creating Shrek-themed hair art (complete with Smashmouth backing track), this 24-year-old from the Ivory Coast quite literally wears the crown.
Introducing our class of 2020 PAPER People exclusively on TikTok✨ Say hello to @laetitiaky 🔥♬ kimset by xix - ir1miku
Which pop star do you most relate to and why?
Definitely Rihanna! I think I am one of her biggest fans. I relate to her firstly because of how she went from nothing to everything. Also, she is extremely polyvalent: She sings, she acts, she dances, she is a business woman and she is engaged in a lot of humanitarian causes. I also love the fact that she is true to herself. She doesn't try to censor her voice when she expresses herself just to please others. She says what she has to say and stands by that, just like I would. I relate to so many aspects of her personality. She is the queen and I aspire to accomplish in life things on the same scale as what she accomplished.
What's your go-to appetizer?
Cashew nuts. I am obsessed with cashew nuts.
Where do you want to be five years from now?
In five years I hope I would be described as a supermodel. I also hope I start my acting career — that is very important to my heart. For my art, I want to be represented by some art gallery and I also hope in five years I will do things I can't even imagine I could do now. I love when life throws surprising things at me and I am ready to jump on every interesting opportunity that will come, even if it is not in my industry.
If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?
Power of persuasion! Someone with that power would have the biggest influence ever. I would surely convince some leader of this world to suppress all the oppressive laws toward women. I would end so many bad things happening right now.
Blazer and pants: Christie Brown for Industrie Africa
If you could give $1,000,000 to any charity, what would it be and why?
I will give it to 28 Too Many. It is an association who fights against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Africa! I think FGM is an extremely inhuman practice that needs to be eradicated.
What's your next move if TikTok is banned?
Just continue to post on other social media. I am actually working on some project that will help me to move my presence from social media to a more physical place. Social media is amazing, but i don't want to be dependent on it.
What's one thing you'd change about TikTok?
Maybe fix the robot who deletes videos that violate the community guideline. More than 10 videos of me just doing my hair were deleted for no reason and it can be hard sometimes to see your long work being deleted like that.
What's the worst zodiac sign?
Where do you want to be when the world ends?
The place doesn't matter as long as I am with my mom and little sister.
Who's your TikTok crush?
Myself! "If you don't love yourself how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I have an AMEN up in here?" More seriously: I just have too many TikTok crushes to choose one.
What was the last song you listened to?
"Joro" from WizKid.