Skip to main content

21 Questions with TikTok Star Molly Riley

By July 22, 2022August 1st, 2022No Comments

Photo: Eyenzsi Reneaux

Molly Riley is a TikTok Star based in Los Angeles, California. Molly started her TikTok account in 2019, with no followers at all, and has grown her following in 2022 to a whopping 98,000 followers. Inspired by pop artists, Molly’s dancing is rooted in a love for hip-hop, and music videos. Dispelling the myth of who “TikTokers” are, Molly Riley is soulful, inspired, and wise, to say the least. It was more than a joy to sit down and ask her everything I was dying to know. 

I sat down with her on Zoom at 5pm on a Sunday in New York.

Happy: (1) What made you start dancing at first?

Molly: I think ever since I was little it was just something inside me. There wasn’t anything that I saw that made me start dancing. There are videos of me when I was younger, where there’s music on at a restaurant, or  just anywhere, I’m just like bumping to it. So I think it was already just in me, But, definitely watching music videos as a kid, just watching music videos of my favorite songs, definitely bumped it up even more; I think I just gravitated toward hip-hop music in general, so that’s where my dancing evolved is hip hop. That’s basically why I started dancing is hip hop.

Happy: (2) Do you have any one or two people that influence you as an artist?

Molly: As an artist, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber were just people that stood out to me, people that I felt connected with, and people that had similar styles as me. But I grew up watching Hannah Montana and really wanted to be her, so she was number one for sure, for a long time. Until Justin Bieber started getting popular and his style of music: pop music, and the way he sings was similar to me and I loved his dancing and his backup dancers. I’d even watch his movie and stuff like that… Never Say Never Movie is so good. I would just be like, ‘that’s what I’m doing, I need to be a performer, I need to get on stage.’ Both of them [Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber], are just the people I remember feeling very connected to, and they inspired me a lot. But also, I would say, Rihanna. I listened to all of her songs when I was so young on my iPod Nano.

Happy: (3) How much do you feel TikTok has had an influence on dancing?

Molly: I think it’s almost like a whole ‘nother form of dancing that people have never done before, because it’s not… Like if we’re talking about standard TikTok dances that came from like Musically or something like that, they’re just for the screen. And the screen is so small. Actual dancers, they used up as much space as possible. But when you’re doing a TikTok dance, you kind of have to do the opposite and like… that’s not usually what dancers are trained to do. But it’s a whole ‘nother form of dance because you keep it all right here [gestures toward herself], and it’s all just in one place. It’s really sick; I didn’t know that you could bring a whole new genre of dance, which is TikTok dancing: just staying in one place and using a lot of your arms ‘cause you can’t see your feet usually. Some people, obviously, do dances with the whole body, but I think it’s had a very big impact on dance and made different types of dancers do a different form of dance that some people grew up doing, if they were really young on TikTok. I know some dancers that can’t even do a TikTok dance because they weren’t trained to keep it small and do those small dances. They just go all out and move around, when you really just need to stay in place. But I think it’s made a lot of people more comfortable with dancing on camera, because that’s such a big thing on TikTok. Everything is virtual now so you can go to a dance class or you can literally just own TikTok and learn just a whole bunch of dances right off of your phone.

Happy: (4) How did you build your platform?

Molly: So, I honestly was someone who knew that I wanted to be seen on TikTok really badly because I felt like it was just my platform. I thought, ‘this is how I want people to see me and this is where I want people to see me, is on this app.’  I just felt like there’s a lot of personality on TikTok and it’s easy to post and possibly develop a following. So I was already really on myself about getting followers. Like, ‘How am I going to be seen? How am I going to get views?’ And you kind of learn some dynamics off of TikTok. Obviously, it’s following trends… if you do see a dance that you like or that is going viral on TikTok, you should do it within the first couple weeks that you see the first video that is that trend. Trends go by like that [snaps fingers] on TikTok, so quickly. Some last for a really long time, it just depends, but because there are so many, usually they only last for a couple weeks and then they’re done with, and people don’t even do them anymore. So I would say definitely staying on the trends can help build your following. Obviously, being yourself, I think that anything you think of or anything you want to share, you should put on TikTok. It’s become such a sharing app, and people just share whatever they know on there. It’s really cool because that’s how I feel like Youtube used to be; people would get a lot of following on Youtube for just being unique, and just talking their sh** basically. A lot of people do that on TikTok and I see a lot of the videos that are viral and have a lot of likes are where people are just talking about stuff and other people ar ejust relating to it. So, being relatable, talking your sh**, following the trends, and obviously, being authentic and being yourself on the app… people will enjoy that. And if you’re not likeable, then it’s probably not looking good for you. But just being yourself, and whatever your thing is, stick to it.

Happy: (5) Do you have a goal number of followers?

Molly: Ooh girl, sky’s the limit! I’m like, ‘give me all of it. Give me anything.’ The thing with TikTok is that you can get so many followers, like Charli D’Amelio has, I don’t even know, like 86 million followers, or something like that. I don’t think anyone in the history of any platform has ever had that many followers, in general, so… That’s why it’s so crazy because it’s a new app, but it’s gone through so many charts of things that have never been done before. So, right now, this year, I’m hoping to possibly double my following that I have right now. I’m almost at 100,000 [followers], so I want to be at 200,000 [followers], by the end of the year hopefully. I’m definitely already doing TikTok a lot more than I did last year. I’m posting like five times a day now. I used to post and I would just get a huge amount of following but my likes would be really low, so it’s hard to tell, you can’t really do anything about that, or do anything to get followers necessarily. It’s kind of just all over the place. But, I think, as long as you keep posting you’ll get followers. It’s still slowly going up, but obviously when you make a viral video is when you get the most followers,  because more people are seeing you and will follow you. But hopefully I can double it [my followers] if I stay on track like this, with posting, and being active on the app.

Happy: (6) What advice do you have for other people that want to have a presence on TikTok?

Molly: I would say, don’t doubt yourself; So many people aren’t used to putting themselves out there on an app like this. I feel like the next more popular app is Instagram, and you don’t really post that many videos on Instagram, especially on your feed. And I feel like people use that app to make a perfect persona of themselves, whereas with TikTok, you can do that, one hundred percent, because it’s the internet, but there’s more of sharing your real self. So, I would say you can’t be afraid of showing your real self, don’t be super critical of yourself, or listen to a lot of what other people have to say. To this day, I know a lot of people who are like, ‘oh I could never do TikTok, I’ll never do TikTok because it’s so cringe,’ or something like that. And that’s how they see it; I don’t see TikTok as being cringe whatsoever, I enjoy it a lot and I think people are just being close minded. I think you have to be open minded and keep doing you. And that’s how you can definitely succeed. Start TikTok with that kind of mindset.

Happy: (7) With all of politics, covid, and everything, how do you feel like dance contributes to making the world a better place?

Molly: I definitely think it gives people a release, for sure, because personally when I’m dancing I’m not thinking of any of those things. Obviously, people with ADHD, they have things where they can find a specific activity and zone in and nothing else matters, and that’s how dance is to me like I am not thinking about anything else. So I think for a lot of people it’s like that, where when they’re dancing they’re not thinking about any negativity, and are just completely focused in the moment. I think that’s what is so beautiful about dance and what can make people get away from everything, when they’re dancing. Just staying focused and loving what you’re doing, as long as you’re loving it, I don’t think that you’re going to be in your head thinking about those things.

Happy: (8) What’s the best thing about being twenty-one?

Molly: I definitely feel like twenty-one is an age where you do feel different. There’s a lot of ages where you’re like, ‘oh I don’t feel any different,’ but for me, personally, I felt different when I turned twenty-one. Maybe it’s just because I can buy alcohol now, but I’m learning that your twenties are a hard time. But they’re also just so necessary for growing up. A lot of people think that your twenties are going to be just like being a teenager; you just get to do whatever you want, you know, life is good, but honestly you’re turning into a young adult and you’re realizing a lot of stuff about the world, obviously taking on more responsibilities. What comes with that is freedom, so it’s still good both ways, it’s good out here, you know [laughs]. But I mean twenty-one is great. You work and you party. It’s a yin yang like that. That’s how I feel only being twenty-one for a couple months, but that’s where I am in life right now.

Photo: Eyenzsi Reneaux

Happy: (9) Who is your favorite TikTok page?

Molly: Probably, @saydenseay, he’s just hilarious. Everytime he comes up on my feed, I am cackling, like I am just on the floor. He’s so funny; he’s just like an internet personality, so he just puts himself on the internet. You know what I mean? He’s not copying anyone else’s work, and not doing any trends really. If anything he’ll talk about a trend and make it funny, but all of his content is original. And I think that’s the hardest thing to do on TikTok. Because a lot of TikTok is seeing something and recreating it as your own, which is like everything but if your account is just super original and every video is your idea? That sh** is crazy. He has 3.2 million followers. He’s just doing it himself, and it’s sick. I think putting your personality on the internet is one of the sickest things, and people actually have a job just from being themselves on the internet. That is like beyond; that is like the best thing you could get paid for.

Happy: (10) Rihanna or Her?

Molly: Rihanna. But I love Her! Her is such a beautiful singer. But Rihanna is iconic and I grew up off of Rihanna so I can’t not. When I think of a powerful woman, or powerful artist… it’s Rihanna. One hundred percent. She kills it in every category. Sorry… I love Rihanna. I could talk about her forever.

Happy: (11) What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Molly: Don’t let someone dim your light. If you feel like you have to make yourself smaller to make someone else feel better? Don’t do that. You know? Don’t let someone dim your light! And that can go for being bullied or someone just making fun of you because you’re doing what you love. Anything. Keep being yourself and keep shining. Don’t change yourself for anybody, or to make anybody else comfortable, ‘cause f*** that.

Happy: (12) Michelle Obama or Barack Obama?

Molly: I mean, women all the way, so Michelle Obama. She’s a beautiful, powerful woman.

Happy: (13) Who is setting trends in dance right now?

Molly: His handle is @SHEAFREAK4JB1. He’s not even verified, he’s not even at one million followers or anything. I think he’s even like a little underground. He should have millions of followers at this point because he’s made so many dances, and somehow it’s just kind of like that on TikTok. Some creators who create the biggest trends are the most underground creators especially Black creators: they are so underrated all the time. The person that made Renegade, that super popular TikTok dance, was a Black girl and she didn’t get credit from all the most popular people: Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and all of the people that were doing it. There was no credit for her until a year later when they met up and did the dance together. But anyways, I love him, and he’s making a lot of the trending dances right now, so I would say he’s my favorite.

Happy: (14) Who is your idol in dancing, alive or dead?

Molly: That’s hard for me, because, at a very young age, I had an idol, but I just did my own dances. Growing up, I didn’t really see anyone; it was more of something that was just within me. But a little bit later, into my tweens, I would say Justin Bieber. Just the way he danced in music videos. Right now, I do have a person that I would just love to dance like, who’s been an idol for me for awhile: Ysabelle, is on Instagram, and is currently a backup dancer for Usher. She’s the queen. She does hip-hop, and she’s just amazing. Her handle on instagram is @ysabellecaps, and if there was a dancing style that I could specifically say it would be her’s.

Happy: (15) What kind of food do dancers eat to stay fit, or do you even support that narrative?

Molly: I don’t support that narrative. I think you can eat whatever you want. What I care about when it comes to health and things like that is just feeling healthy yourself. I don’t think it has anything to do with weight or muscle mass or anything like that. If you feel good, you feel good. If you can walk up the stairs and not be out of breath, that’s a good sign. And dancing is cardio, and it is working out, and it is a sport. So I think that as long as you keep pushing yourself, you’ll be making more muscle, and developing more muscle memory. Dancing is a lot of muscle memory. Say you’re learning a new move, that move will get a lot easier and become muscle memory. So, what you eat doesn’t have to do with any of that. There’s a million different shapes and sizes that dance the same. I don’t think if you’re 200 pounds, you’re going to dance worse than someone that’s 99 pounds. Anyone can do it. No matter what they eat, shape, size, anything.

Happy: (16) How do you feel about artists and dancers being labeled as content creators?

I think that if they’re on an app like TikTok, then it’s valid to call them a content creator. I think that if you are creating content for a platform, then you’re a content creator. A lot of what you do on TikTok is content creating. It’s just a big thing right now. I’ve talked to my friends that like doing it [content creating], and it’s something that sometimes people feel they need to do to stay on track with their social platforms. It’s interesting because there are internet personalities versus celebrities. That’s kind of the same as calling someone an artist versus a content creator. You have someone that literally creates content and posts it on a platform. Then, you have an artist who makes music in their house, apartment, or in the studio, and posts it and makes a music video. Music videos can be content but mainly they go and perform their song. So, if there is a difference, it’s content creators, and performers. Because not all content creating is performing… it’s just content. Some of it can be performing but you’re performing for a camera, which is different from being on stage and actually being a performer, in my opinion.

Happy: (17) Does the amount of people that are following you affect your mental health?

Molly: I think that the amount of people following you can affect your mental health but it’s also the people that comment. I think it’s the type of people that comment on your stuff. There’s not really a dislike button; you don’t really necessarily see all of the people that like your stuff. It’s just always going to be positive if they’re liking it, but the negativity comes in with the comments. Unless you have anxiety about a lot of people looking at you at once… but then why would you have an app where people can look at you a lot? It’s usually because you want to be seen. Personally, I want to be seen. So, if I see like a million views, then I’m hype off of that, not scared. You know? But I think that the amount of people watching you can affect people’s mental health, for sure. Because they’re scared of messing up, that’s like the biggest thing. We’re all human, we make mistakes, we say stuff, and people can hold that against you. And then there’s cancel culture and stuff like that, so, it is nerve wracking.

Happy: (18) If you could snap and make all of your wishes come true, what would happen?

Molly: I would have an album out, or be working on it, as long as I get to be performing it. That’s the end goal. I want to be on stage. I want to be at festivals. I want to be at concerts performing my own music and dancing at the same time. That would be the goal. As long as I get to do that I’ll be happy. It’s not about fame; it’s about performing. That’s what’s always been in my head since I was little. I’ve always pictured myself being on a stage dancing and singing. If I start off just doing it with other people, being a backup dancer, that’s a good taste for me. I would f***ing love that. But the end goal is to be performing on stage, and whatever comes after that, I’ll be excited for that too.

Happy: (19) How do you deal with positive or negative comments on your videos?

Molly: It’s hard to deal with, for sure. Obviously the positive feedback is amazing. A comment and a like are so different, just in the fact that we have only those two options, and nothing else. There’s no in between. Someone can just like it and you have no idea who they are, but once they comment, there’s a profile, and you can click on it. You can see what they look like. You can see their name. And their comment can affect you, for sure. When you blow up on TikTok, you can have so many comments, but if I see something that I don’t agree with, I’ll delete it. It’s my page, I don’t want there to be negativity on my page. Some of them [the comments] do get to me, but I’ll just be like, ‘what are they saying?’ Because it’s just on the internet, it’s not a face to face thing, and people come off way different on the internet. The main thing I try not to do is respond to the bad comment. Either leave it up and don’t care what they say… It’s unfortunate because other people can see it. That’s the thing is it’s not just between you and this one person: it’s something everyone can see. And you don’t want to see there being hate on your page and someone making fun of you or something like that. So I think what I would say about what you should do, is just to not care, if you can, or don’t look at your comments, which is still really hard because you want to see the good comments. But I know a lot of people that, especially if it’s a big video, won’t even look at the comments, because they’re happy enough seeing it blow up.

Happy: (20) Is dance something you want to do forever or do you have other ventures in mind?

Molly: I have other ventures in mind but I want to dance for as long as I can. That’s why performing is the number one goal, because there’s people that are older that go on stage and dance. But I feel like there is a gap, in the performing and dancing on stage aspect. But I’m going to do it for as long as possible because it’s the thing I love to do the most. In my head, I actually thought, ‘if performing stops for me and I’m not dancing on stage anymore, I’ll become a dance teacher.’ That way I can keep dancing and still make money and have people want to do it [dance] with me or whatever. Being a dance choreographer or teacher would be really cool. Even if I do that before anything pops off. But there’s definitely other ventures. I’ve always wanted to model, or photograph. I love working out and fitness, so maybe being a trainer. There’s so many. Also the singing aspect. I feel like you’re never too old to sing. You can sing and make music until you’re 70; you don’t have to retire. So. There’s always options. Those are the options.

Happy: (21) Besides being a dancer, what do you want to be remembered for?

Molly: I would like to be remembered as not being so serious, because I feel like I can get very serious and I have had a very serious life, unp until now. I’d love for people to remember me as just having fun, and being happy, which sounds very cliche but… also just being yourself. I want to be known for that. I was myself and I wanted everyone else to be themselves. You shouldn’t shame someone for being who they are. There’s just so many people that are different. If you don’t like somebody, you don’t have to. But I don’t think you should ever make someone feel they shouldn’t be who they feel they are. So that’s what I want people to remember me for. That I spread that kind of thinking: you should just be who you are and never let anybody tell you different.

Photo: Eyenzsi Reneaux

Photo: Eyenzsi Reneaux


Leave a Reply