Cristian Dennis is carving out a space for people of color on TikTok: 'I've been working ... to make sure diverse voices are heard'

Katie Mather
·2 min read

If you're not one of Cristian Dennis' 6.4 million TikTok followers, you're missing out.

The content creator's videos range from high-energy dancing to before-and-after makeup transformations to various outfit changes.

"It's showing people how to be themselves by just being myself," Dennis explained to In The Know. "There's nothing else I could see myself doing."

Dennis didn't start making videos to become a TikTok star or influencer, he really just wanted to have fun putting on makeup, wearing heels and running around in whatever clothing he liked.

But it was his choreography that caught the eyes of thousands of newfound fans, who loved watching Dennis dance to popular songs.

"People accepted me for me on my platforms, and once I saw that, I was like, 'Oh, people just like me being me, so I'm just going to do that and encourage people to do that on social media,'" he said.

One of Dennis' fans is none other than Ariana Grande, who admired his music videos set to her songs. She reposted one video on her own social media pages, causing Dennis's followers to skyrocket.

It wasn't all smooth sailing. Dennis grew up in New Jersey and then moved to a suburb in Virginia, where he was surrounded by African family members who may have reluctantly accepted his love for social media, but had some things to say about Dennis identifying as being gay.

"I was a different person when I was with my family — and when I was on social media with my friends, I was Dennis," he said. "My real name is Cristian, but on social media and everywhere else, I went by Dennis."

Fortunately, Dennis was able to surround himself with a support group of college friends and his boyfriend, Tyshon Lawrence, who has his own social media following.

"When it comes to making content, it's just so easy to be ourselves," Dennis said. "We're just a fun time all the time."

Now with this massive platform, Dennis is focusing on supporting other content creators of color — especially in terms of making it clear how others can turn social media into a career and monetize their successes.

"Being Black and gay in social media, [it] is a little bit difficult to find an agency that believes in your potential," Dennis explained. "I've been working with TikTok to make sure diverse voices are heard — not just Black influencers, but other people of color that are on the app."

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