How Addison Rae's career went from casual TikTok dances to appearances on 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians'

How Addison Rae's career went from casual TikTok dances to appearances on 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians'
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Addison Rae
  • Addison Rae is one of TIkTok's biggest stars with over 81 million followers.

  • She began posting on TikTok in 2019 and was an early member of the Hype House.

  • Since then, she's transformed her influencer status into conventional celebrity.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Over the last year, Addison Rae burst from the TikTok scene into mainstream Hollywood fame.

Addison Rae
Addison Rae started posting on TikTok in 2019 and has grown in fame since. Bryant

Addison Rae, the 20-year-old influencer turned budding mainstream celebrity, is one of TikTok's biggest stars. The third-most-followed person on the app (behind Charli D'Amelio and Khaby Lame, who unseated Rae from the penultimate spot just last week), Rae has parlayed her TikTok fame into that of a conventional celebrity better than most online influencers ever have.

That pivot has led to Rae, whose full name is Addison Rae Easterling, releasing her own music, appearing on "Keeping Up With The Kardashians," and starring in a Netflix remake of "She's All That."

Over the course of her career, however, she's also become a face of conventional TikTok stardom: a creator who rose to prominence by performing dances and lip-sync trends, eventually moving out to Los Angeles and joining an influencer collective (in Rae's case, the Hype House) before turning online clout into brand deals and entertainment contracts.

This is how Rae, who currently has 81.9 million followers, went from posting videos for fun in the summer of 2019, as she previously told Insider, to becoming one of the app's best-known stars.

Rae began posting on TikTok in 2019.

@addisonre

Everyone’s reposting their most popular tik tok sooooo 🤪🤪 ##foryoupage ##foryou ##fyp

♬ original sound - Wileydspain

While Rae broke through into mainstream stardom in 2020, her TikTok presence dates back to mid-2019, less than a year after TikTok merged with the popular lip-sync app Musical.ly in August 2018. At that time, she posted a mix of dance videos, lip-syncs, trends, and comedy skits, with many of her videos featuring appearances from her mother — a TikTok star in her own right with over 14 million followers — and other family members.

Her videos began to take off and she hit the 1 million follower milestone in October 2019, as Insider previously reported.

By late November of that year, she decided to leave Louisiana State University, where she studied broadcast journalism, to pursue content creation full-time.

"I remember that's when it changed for me," Rae told Insider in April 2020. "I knew I wanted to take it more seriously and expand it to other platforms. I uploaded a video to YouTube and got really active on Instagram."

In December 2019, Rae moved to California and joined the Hype House.

Addison Rae
Addison Rae was one of the early members associated with the Hype House collective. Bryant

Rae told Insider last year that she moved to California in December 2019, with her family eventually buying a house there and splitting their time between the sunshine state and Louisiana.

She was also a member of the Hype House collective, a group of influencers that includes creators like Thomas Petrou, Chase Hudson, and Avani Gregg. Charli and Dixie D'Amelio, some of TikTok's biggest stars still today, were also associated with the group.

@addisonre

@dixiedamelio @avani @charlidamelio @ameliezilber

♬ original sound - favsoundds

By May 2020, Seventeen reported that Rae appeared to be distancing herself from the Hype House when Bryce Hall — Rae's on and off boyfriend — said that she "doesn't really associate" with the collective in what appears to be a since-deleted Instagram video.

Rae signed with talent agency WME in January 2020.

Addison Rae
Addison Rae went to posting on TikTok to signing with a talent agency in less than a year. WME

By the time that Rae had moved out to Los Angeles and began associating with the Hype House, she was also attracting attention from brands and eventually talent agency WME, which has also signed TikTok stars like Chase Hudson.

WME agents told Insider in March 2020 that the focus with influencers they had signed was more on brand partnerships and sponsored content than placement in acting roles.

Over the course of 2020, Rae greatly expanded her scope beyond social media: as Insider's Amanda Perelli reported, she launched apparel and merchandise collections with iamkoko.la and Fanjoy. Rae also launched a Spotify-exclusive podcast co-hosted by her mother, Sherri Nicole, that was recently renewed for a second season under the name "That Was Fun?" and originally launched in July 2020.

Last August, Forbes reported that Rae was TikTok's highest-earning star.

And now, Rae's getting an acting gig as well — she's starring in "He's All That," a remake of the 1999 film "She's All That," which premieres on Netflix this August.

And of course, she's also launched her own music career with the release of her single "Obsessed" in March.

She appeared on "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" after becoming close friends with Kourtney Kardashian.

Kourtney Kardashian and Addison Rae in New York City
Kourtney Kardashian (left) and Addison Rae (right) became friends over the course of the pandemic. Gotham/GC Images

Addison Rae formed a relationship with Kourtney Kardashian, 41, after starting to collaborate with Kardashian's son Mason Disick on social media in March 2020. Soon after, Rae and Kardashian began appearing in YouTube videos together, referring to each other as "besties" in a June 2020 TikTok video.

https://www.tiktok.com/@addisonre/video/6840572909157715206?sender_device=pc&sender_web_id=6891259809896056326&is_from_webapp=v1&is_copy_url=0

Throughout 2020, Kardashian and Rae continued to publicly post about their friendship on social media, Insider previously reported.

In April, Rae appeared on an episode of E!'s Kardashian-focused reality show "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" so that the rest of the family could question her about her relationship with Kourtney.

Rae was at the center of a dance credit controversy sparked by a segment she performed on "The Tonight Show."

addison rae the tonight show
Addison Rae performed a series of dances popular on TikTok while appearing on "The Tonight Show." The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube

In March, Rae appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon to promote her single "Obsessed." While on the show, she also did a segment with Fallon in which she performed a series of dances that are popular on TikTok but had not been choreographed by Rae herself.

The segment generated backlash online, notably because none of the creators who choreographed the dances, many of whom are Black, received on-screen credit during the show itself (they were later credited in the description of the YouTube upload of the clip).

The segment played into an existing issue on TikTok in which Black creators aren't credited, and ultimately don't profit, from the trends — dance or otherwise — that they start. That recurring phenomenon eventually led to what's been dubbed the "Black TikTok strike," in which many Black TikTok creators are deliberately not choreographing dance challenges to Megan Thee Stallion's "Thot S---" as a means of highlighting how TikTok, and white creators, profit off of their cultural contributions.

Amid the backlash, Rae told TMZ that she supports all of the original choreographers of the dances she performed and said that she hopes one day they can collaborate. "The Tonight Show" also later highlighted some of the creators in an April segment.

Rae has been followed by other minor controversies during her career.

Addison Rae wears a black ensemble while attending the MTV Movie & TV Awards.
Addison Rae interviewed celebrities at UFC 264. Matt Winkelmeyer/2021 MTV Movie and TV Awards/Getty Images

In July, Rae posted a tweet in which she appeared to joke about being a UFC correspondent when she attended the preliminary event for UFC 264: Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor.

"I studied broadcast journalism in college for 3 whole months to prepare for this moment," she tweeted along with two photos of her holding a microphone.

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Some Twitter users, as Insider reported, seemed to take Rae's post as saying that she had landed a job with UFC, suggesting that she had gotten a position because of her influencer status. EPSN told Insider that while Rae did some interviews for UFC 264, she was not a full-time employee.

Rae jokingly addressed the controversy in a tweet a day later, saying "nvm y'all got me fired."

She was also accused of being a Republican in September 2020 when a viral TikTok video purported to show her voter registration. In a comment on the video, Rae said the claims were false, and that she was not yet registered to vote.

In tweets on July 13, footage surfaced that purportedly showed Rae greeting President Donald Trump during the UFC 264 match on July 10. Uploaded to the NELK YouTube channel in a video titled "Addison Rae Says Hi To Donald Trump," Rae appeared to approach the former president.

"Hi, I'm Addison. Nice to meet you," Rae said to a person that appeared to be President Trump. "I have to say hi. Hello, so nice to meet you."

The footage, which circulated on Twitter on Tuesday, led many on Twitter to hypothesize that Rae was a Trump supporter, BuzzFeed reported.

Rae did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment regarding the footage.

To read more stories like this, check out Insider's digital culture coverage here.

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