We spoke to Kanaan Pitan, the lockdown TikTok star and King’s chemistry student
Oh, and did we mention that he’s a Gymshark model too?
Cast your minds back to the TikTok era of March 2020. Whipped coffee, lockdown jokes and everyone grappling to become TikTok famous. We caught up with Kanaan, the stylish King’s student who’s managed to do just that:
What first inspired you to make TikToks?
Beforehand, I did always think that TikTok was just a cringe app and there was no place for me on it. Eventually one of my friends who models (and a couple of my other friends) told me that I’d actually do well on the app if I tried, so I just started making a few. From then I just got a really good reception and around 10k followers in less than a week so I carried on making them and it brought me to where I am today.
You now boast an impressive 505.3k following and 18.3M likes, did you ever anticipate that your account would ‘blow up’ as it did?
To be perfectly honest, when I first started TikTok I thought that I’d probably get maybe up to 50k followers if I really tried my hardest and maybe get a decent following on Instagram. It did go way further than I expected, I went more viral than I ever anticipated. Sometimes I don’t even realise how many people in the world have actually seen my face because of some of my viral TikToks. It’s still crazy having that many people follow you on an app and it just doesn’t feel real. I kind of got bigger than I thought I ever would be, and it’s helped all my socials and really helped me get where I want to be in terms of having a social media presence.
Your TikToks have received attention on multiple social media platforms and influenced trends like ‘Mood Swings’. What do you think is the secret to creating a viral video?
The secret to creating a viral video is having something in the video so significant that everybody can’t help but talk about it. Also, just being original because TikTok has a different level of originality on it so you can’t come on there with basic ideas. Sometimes TikToks are planned out to be quite funny and intriguing, others are more unintentional and still go viral, it’s just as long as you’ve made a video that people want to watch over and over again.
Breaking into influencing so quickly must have brought both its advantages and disadvantages. After a few of your TikToks were shared on Twitter back in late July of this year, you received a lot of online hate. How do you personally deal with receiving negative comments?
At first I was quite bad with dealing with the hate and I let it get to me very quickly but after the first batch came through I realised that hate comes from nowhere but insecurity, bitterness and just being a negative person overall. I realised that in this movie we call life, I’d rather be the person who is having fun and people are making fun of, than the person who just has to bring other people down and ruin the fun. It’s no surprise to me that TikTok is a cringe app and I cringe at a lot of TikToks to this day, even some of my own! I genuinely don’t mind if people want to laugh and joke about them, but when they spew actual hate around them and try and get me to stop it’s a little bit too far, hence why I responded how I did on YouTube.
After a few Twitter users specifically ‘dragged’ you for filming a TikTok video in a gym, Gymshark tweeted in your defence. How did you feel once you saw that tweet?
I felt relieved that the story had written itself and silenced my haters for me. Having so many people rush to my defence and then a massive company like Gymshark also defending me, it made me feel like my voice was heard and gave other people the confidence to speak out about how negative some of us can be for no reason. I was just so glad that people understood my message.
You’ve recently modelled for ASOS, Nike and, of course, Gymshark. Do you think that you’d like to continue with modelling and influencing when you graduate, or do you plan to focus on chemistry?
I’d love to put my degree to use, however, modelling is kicking off so well for me I’d be a fool to let this opportunity slide while I’m still young. So my main focus definitely is becoming the best influencer and model I can be. Maybe later down the line, I can use my chemistry degree where it may come in handy.