If you’ve ever spent any time on TikTok, chances are you already know who Danisha Carter is: her wide-eyed stare, her takes-no-prisoners social commentary, and … the overwhelming sensation that you might be watching a deepfake. My little sister calls her “the android lady,” and the comments sections of her videos are often littered with questions like, “Wait, is she a person or an android?” I decided to reach out to Danisha and find out.
Katherine: How would you describe what you do?
Danisha: On TikTok? Probably best described as social commentary. In general? Music, fashion, and anything to do with media.
Katherine: What inspired you to start making TikToks? What was it like to blow up?
Danisha: I have always been someone who’s had strong opinions and shared them unprovoked.
I had a high school teacher who referred to me as “Soapbox” because it was just my thing to give my opinion on everything, so I was mainly just looking for a place to put my opinions. I also had been hearing that TikTok was the next big social platform and I didn’t want to miss it – I just don’t dance, which was the only thing I saw on the app at the time, so I had to find a different way to be involved.
“Blowing up” hasn’t been as groundbreaking as I think some people would assume, primarily because blowing up on TikTok is much different than blowing up by having a hit song on the radio, and having 1 million followers is different from having 100 million like the Charlies and the Addisons.
I am extremely popular in a small niche, which feels a lot more like growing a community, than being an overnight star. The platform has allowed me to meet incredible people, share information that I think people should know, and has brought me many opportunities that I am grateful for.
I will say that it is less than ideal to have people constantly overanalyze what I do on the app though, I can’t use it as leisurely or flippantly as others because there are people who see what I’m doing and turn it into something for their own entertainment. If I leave a comment on a video that could even be misconstrued as rude, it gets responses, so “blowing up” has certainly made me more attentive to my online behavior.
Katherine: You’re also a musician – why do you keep your music off of TikTok?
Danisha: I do make music! It isn’t intentionally separate from TIkTok, I just have a lot of unfinished projects that can’t be posted yet.
The covers that I have done I’ve posted on TikTok and YouTube, and I absolutely intend to integrate music into all of my social platforms once my single “Couldn’t Be Me” is finished, along with any other projects.
Katherine: Do you think the claim that TikTok changed music is overstated?
Danisha: Absolutely. “Still Rock and Roll to Me” is one of my favorite songs, song titles, and quotes, because it’s so accurate. TikTok, streaming, and social media have absolutely impacted the music landscape, but people act as if there hasn’t been stardom based on popularity, nepotism, and connections forever.
People act as if the untalented haven’t existed and succeeded in all industries, forever. The democratization (if you will) of music as a whole has done much more good than harm, as it makes the music industry – something that has a very high cost of entry – accessible to hundreds, thousands, millions of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to make music for a living and have it heard.
Good music is still very plentiful, as the quality is usually the first complaint I hear when people are upset about TikTok’s relationship with the music industry, and if you’re someone who claims or acts as if it “no longer exists” all that tells me is you aren’t looking for new sounds or listening to enough music.
Katherine: Are you playing a character on TikTok? If so, who is she?
Danisha: Partially, though unintentionally. As I said earlier, I don’t dance, the videos I’ve posted on TikTok have always been just me talking, so I’ve always cropped the video to be just my head, as that is all that’s relevant.
My followers, back when I was a smaller page, noticed this and said it came off robotic to them and that I reminded them of a character from the video game Detroit: Become Human, so we all just kept it up as a joke, “Danisha’s a robot,” “Danisha’s AI.”
I kept my formatting the same, added a grain filter to give off more of a deepfake appearance, and people act as if I am actually a computer program. It is always funny for all of us to see people who are new to my page, react to it and be confused.
In terms of opinions and personality though, no. I am quite straightforward and honest on TikTok, outside of information I omit it for my own personal safety and preference.
Katherine: TikTok seems less reciprocal than other platforms – have you made any friends on the site? If so, what’s it been like? What’s different about it?
Danisha: I have heard things to the tune of “TikTok is harder to build a community on” and I really think that just comes down to the type of content you make, and the type of person you are. I know people who have garnered a massive audience on TikTok, and then had that audience follow them on Instagram and Youtube.
I know TikTokers who have made some great friends, and friend groups on the app – myself included. I also know TikTokers who have taken their TikTok stardom and turned it into a brand, or a career in a different avenue. I, also, of course, know TikTokers who haven’t done or were unable to do any of those things.
It is less of a platform issue in my opinion, and much more of a case-by-case basis. Perhaps one difference that I can see, is that there is still likely a generation that is very distant from TikTok, whereas everyone (at this point) is on Youtube, Facebook, and even Instagram – so perhaps TikTok can be a bit more niche.
Katherine: You create a lot of content for young women – what’s one piece of advice you’d give them that you think is underappreciated?
Danisha: See the value in creating and protecting female solidarity, never be afraid to speak up or enter rooms or take up space, and don’t count yourself out. There are so many years lost to women being taught to see women as competition and to value male validation over everything – men are great and I love them – but in the micro, female companionship and friendship are so important and fulfilling, and in the macro, women standing together against so many social dynamics and systems is what will ultimately eliminate their unfairness.
“Thank God women learn to whisper, but I crave a megaphone,” is an excellent song lyric of Jensen McRae’s and I love it because there are so many instances where women are our sisters’ keeper due to how many things we share with one another, but I really want us to get to a point where women are brave enough to speak about what we go through with “a megaphone,” and the way we normalize it and make that a thing, is by speaking up. (Yes, of course, it will be safer for some people to do so than others.) Not being afraid of being seen as a bitch. And of course, being able to understand what odds are against you as a woman, and not let that bleed into you doubting yourself. Learning that you can do and be whatever you want, regardless of the circumstances or odds against you, and doing just that.
Katherine: We talked about young women. Let’s touch briefly on young men. What did you make of that weird Andrew Tate renaissance, if you could call it that? Do you think it was real, or a media invention? His alleged “influence” felt so overnight.
Danisha: I think it was absolutely real. I could probably write an entire essay on Andrew Tate and topics relating but for now I will say: people need to be very careful about the idols they choose. Attention is currency, and exploiting people’s emotions is the best way to get that currency. Remember that people who get paid to keep your attention, can afford to be aggressive and reckless.
The things that Andrew Tate got away with, he got away with because he is already established and the more problematic or divisive he behaved, the more established he became. If regular people attempt to integrate that behavior into their life, all they are going to do is ruin their reputation and relationships. The way Andrew Tate and those alike get their younger male audience (which is the real issue here, older men can typically sift past the nonsense he’s sharing and take whatever there is of value, if it exists) is by tapping into anecdotal truths they feel and bad experiences they’ve had – insecurity, loneliness, bitterness towards girls that won’t date them, lack of direction in life, etc. and then turning it very quickly into something sinister – somewhat like saying, “if it’s cold outside, you should light your body on fire” instead of “if it’s cold outside, you should wear a jacket.”
Young men need male influences that can show them healthy ways to deal with the real internal issues they have growing up, and show them what healthy masculinity looks like. Spoiler: it isn’t abusive and emotionally irresponsible, and it isn’t forcing others to be smaller for the sake of feeling big.