L..A-based actor Chris Olsen has found success on social media with 7.7 million followers on TikTok and over half a million on Instagram– and he’s one of many queer content creators looking to broaden his platform into other forms of entertainment.  He just had a starring role in the Discovery+ series The Book of Queer, which re-enacts moments in LGBTQIA+ history, and he’s got a musical feature film in the works out later this year.

The classically trained Filipino-American actor and singer takes a comedic approach to his online videos, but he also addresses mental health issues and personal stuff, with lifestyle experiences and music-driven silliness in the mix.  We caught up with the vivacious web personality to talk Pride Month, TikTok and his secrets to building a digital following by being yourself.

LA WEEKLY: As Pride month ends, what are your thoughts on commercialization of the movement? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? What can we do all year long to promote equality and acceptance?

CHRIS OLSEN: I think the commercialization of Pride can be dangerous when companies are doing it more for profit and optics instead of actually supporting the queer community. However, when commercialized initiatives are funding organizations like The Trevor Project or the Marsha P. Johnson Institute (and many more), there are benefits to the visibility some of these corporations can bring. I do, however, think companies should do more to support these organizations and initiatives all year round, because marginalized queer communities don’t only exist one month out of the year, but all year, and need consistent support.

What do you say to people who think being a TikToker requires no real talent?

Most of the time, the people who say that have never tried it, or when they do, they say they can’t seem to figure it out or it’s “too hard” to understand. How can that be true if it also requires no talent or skill? There is immense creativity and artistry on TikTok that it is literally shifting our culture, so that take is slightly out of touch.

For people looking to build their followings– what is your advice?

As difficult as it can be – consistency. When I didn’t have a following, I saw a video tell me that if I wanted one then  needed to post 3-5 times a day to see what “worked”. So, for about 3 months, I posted 5 videos a day, every day, until I found what an audience wanted from me. I will say that I don’t think that frequency is absolutely necessary, but it can’t hurt. Also, post what you love – once you start making content that feels inauthentic to you just for views, you may experience burn out much faster than you would if you were creating what comes most naturally to you.

Chris Olsen (Photo by Max Montgomery)

Describe your content and how it’s evolved.

My content has gone through many waves. Initially, I was making mostly couple content with my boyfriend at the time, but halfway through that I realized I wanted to make more than just one genre of content, so I started creating more relatable videos talking in my car. Then, I was inspired by seeing someone fly across the country to see a friend, so I started making videos flying across the country to bring coffee to friends because I’m passionate about coffee.

After my boyfriend and I broke up, I had to completely pivot to solo content, so I started doing different things like filming the funny parts of my therapy sessions, running around in the Balenciaga Crocs heels, and even posting singing videos for the first time, which, thankfully, were very well received.

Sometimes TikTok can pigeonhole you into a “niche” and creators feel like they can’t make videos outside of that niche at all because they won’t perform well. While that may seem true upon the first few posts, I say trust your gut, push through that wall, and know that if it’s good content, eventually your audience will catch on to your passions and love what you’ve created.

Tell us about the Book of Queer and your creative output right now beyond social media.

The Book of Queer is a Discovery+ series that premiered this month and covers historical events featuring the stories of queerness that were written out of the history books. It was such a fun project and I’m so happy everyone who’s watched it has loved it so far. The best part of acting in this project was how much fun we got to have with our roles, they let us improv and really make the characters our own.

I also just wrapped production on my first independent movie-musical, 1660 Vine, which premieres in November! I was so excited to be able to put my musical theatre degree to work and create a completely new story with a creative team that was so wonderful and collaborative. Getting into the acting world has been amazing and being able to do what I love has been so gratifying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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