When Khaby Lame was laid off from his factory job during the pandemic, he ignored his father’s encouragement to look for another job. Instead, he turned on his camera, hit record and then uploaded onto TikTok. Today, Lame’s account boasts 149.5 million followers, making him the most popular influencer on the platform.
“It’s my face and my facial expression that make people laugh,” Lame told The New York Times.
His social media deadpan humor has also made the 22-year-old plenty of money. Lame now reportedly gets paid up to $750,000 per post.
The top TikTok influencer constantly proves that sometimes, an authentic, no-frills video is just as engaging as trending choreographed dances posted by the likes of Charli De’Amelio. Lame rose to popularity by posting life hacks with sarcastic facial expressions.
“His content almost debunks or mocks the overproduced trends that happen across social media, whether it’s life hacks or other things like that,” said Samir Chaudry, a founder of The Publish Press, a newsletter covering the creator economy, told the Times. “He almost represents this authenticity over production. I think that’s very appealing at scale to people, this feeling of someone not trying too hard, it’s something that feels authentic.”
The social media personality’s net worth is valued at $15 million. Lame has earned $450,000 through his partnership with Hugo Boss. For this hefty check, Lame walked during the Milan Fashion Week show and posted it on his account. According to Fortune, Lame recently signed a contract with a Hollywood studio and will earn $750,000 for being featured in a clip. He has also secured deals with brands such as Binance and Dream 111.
The popular influencer has no plans of slowing down. Lame recently revealed that he would love to launch an acting career and work with Will Smith. To reach this goal, Lame works with an English tutor daily. He also watches American movies and cartoons.
From Factory Worker to Top TikTok Influencer
Lame was born in Senegal and migrated to Italy during his childhood with his parents and siblings in 2021. In 2020, when Lame began posting TikTok videos, it was merely a hobby. His first videos were a combination of dance parodies and meme skits. Lame’s popularity rose through his comedic reaction videos in which he would gaze into the camera with a weird expression or provide a sarcastic response to a situation. Lame considers his silent responses and facial expressions “global language.”
By April 2021, Lame had become the most popular influencer in Italy, pushing Gianluca Vacchi out of the top spot. Today, his videos are popular in Senegal, the United States, Brazil, and Italy.
As Lame continues to navigate his business as a social media personality, he is reminded to remain resilient.
“The secret is endurance above all,” he said.