Sep 16, 2020
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TikTok’s ‘Teen Madea’ Sets His Sights on Hollywood

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Genesis Williams was going to be a funeral director.

Then his TikTok videos started going viral.

His first video got a mere 100 views. “I was very upset. So I deleted the app.” He redownloaded it a week later and posted a video featuring his take on Tyler Perry’s Madea. It went viral, racking up more than 435,000 views.

Williams had started TikTok in December after seeing his cousins make TikTok videos during Christmas. After a few months of TikToking, he noticed a trend. “I noticed every time I did Madea, videos on there — it wouldn’t get as many views,” he said. “So that’s when I decided to create my own characters and put my own characters in there, and that’s when it kind of blew up.”

His most recent viral video features a kid asking a black mom if his friend can come out to play.

@hollywoodhereicome_They be telling all our business, I used to be in my room listening 👂 😭‼️ ##blackMoms ##MissNita♬ Can Mailk come outside please – hollywoodhereicome_

Williams’ other viral videos include a black mom pulling groceries out of an enormous bag in a movie theater, things aunties say at black funerals, and the different types of aunties at black cookouts.

In high school, Williams did televised morning announcements, joined the yearbook committee, and was in the drama club. He aspires to be an actor. At family get-togethers starting around age 5, he was always the center of attention. His mother was a frequent target of his comedy. “When she told us to shut up or be quiet, I would make the kind of faces she used to make, and people would think it was funny,” he said. His mother and father now follow him on TikTok. His mother also follows several cooking TikTok channels.

A lucky break came when his participation in an after-school music program — the James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils — led him to visit Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, where he met and interviewed Tyler Perry. Williams says meeting Perry was the hardest thing he’s done. “I don’t know why, I was just so nervous… I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly, so I had to kind of prepare myself… I didn’t want to say nothing dumb.”

Williams waited to start with social media until he turned 16. He grew up without a cell phone.

His YouTube videos are shot on an iPhone 11, and editing is done on iMovie.

His first viral video came when he vlogged his workday at Wendy’s and got more than 30,000 views. Genesis walks to work, puts on a hairnet, and vacuums the carpet. “It felt really good to do other people’s jobs, that’s lazy, they don’t want to do nothing, they just stand there and look at the grill all day.” That day, his cash drawer came up short, even though he was careful with the money. He briefly considers a move to the sandwich making station.

 

Williams’ favorite musical artist is James Brown. His favorite TV show is 70s sitcom Good Times, a show about a family with three children living in a public housing project in a poor, black neighborhood in inner-city Chicago. He identifies most with Good Times character James Jr. Evans, also known as JJ, a precocious painter who brings good luck to the family, bouncing around the set with chaotic energy. In one scene, JJ gets a phone call and runs out of the shower with only a towel wrapped around his waist to thunderous laughter.

Williams’ plans for the future include being a film or Netflix show, along with graduating college and getting on his way to being a news anchor or actor.

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