15 Aug Expert Jonathan Cartu Announces – Clifton Park resident and TikTok superstar has become one…
One word can change an entire sentence. And one “insignificant” moment can change the course of someone’s life. Zahra Hashimee knows this very, very well.
Last year, she was working at Chipotle in Clifton Park Centre mall. Her day-to-day tasks included setting up shop at 8 a.m., cleaning the restaurant and working the cash register until the end of her shift.
As for this year, she’s working with Chipotle. She isn’t throwing customers some extra queso or mopping the floors. Instead, she has a partnership with the food chain.
A lot can happen in 18 months and for 21-year-old Clifton Park resident Hashimee, “a lot” was earning 2.7 million followers on TikTok — the video-sharing social media app that has taken the world by storm, entertained the masses and plastered her face all over its homepage. The platform has since become a comparable force to that of Snapchat or Instagram, allowing users to create short comedy videos, compete in dance challenges and, ultimately, find joy — and in some cases, fame — within the creative process. Just a year-and-a-half ago, the UAlbany student and Shen grad wrapped up a burrito-building shift, had a sleepover with her friend Sue Misevis and posted the first of her mega-entertaining comedy sketches under the handle @muslimthicc.
Now, whether she likes the term or not, she’s an influencer. She gets excused from class to attend the Grammys, has fan accounts honor her with videos on a daily basis and aims to set an example for young Muslim girls on the app with informational, humorous and uplifiting clips. And even if the app doesn’t make it through the White House’s recent executive order banning it from the U.S., Hashimee has still earned a massive following and her messages of acceptance and finding meaning in life’s small moments remain the same.
ERICA MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
TikTok influencer Zahra Hashimee, of Clifton Park and Shenendehowa graduate, shows her TikTok page at UAlbany campus in Albany on Friday, August 7, 2020. Hashimee has over 2.7 million followers from her videos.
In short, Hashimee is dominating one of the biggest social media platforms on the planet with her spontaneous humor and quick-witted comedy clips.
While her following isn’t quite up there with the app’s most-followed star Charli D’Amelio (78 million followers) or someone like Will Smith — who sits at around 30 million followers — none of this was calculated for Hashimee. It kind of just happened.
‘Lucky on the internet’
It all had to start somewhere, though. In the viral video that sparked her social media surgence, in January 2019, Hasimee pretended she just flushed her fish down the toilet, later finds out it might’ve been alive and sees a napkin appear in the toilet bowl that reads, “u a lil b—h.”
The quirky clip was an instant hit, earning over 500,000 views.
“We had a lot of other videos of us lip syncing and throwing bananas at each other, but my first big one on TikTok was the fish video,” Hashimee said. “After that went viral, I said, ‘That wasn’t hard, let’s do it again.’ I think I just kept getting lucky. It kind of just snowballed from there… I live in the suburbs of Upstate New York, I go to a local state school, there’s nothing exceptional about me. I just got lucky on the internet.”
Her first stroke of genius may have seemed like luck, but everything that followed proved otherwise. Hashimee rapidly grew her own fanbase based on these quick-hit comedy clips, mini-vlogs and posts that showcased her relatability.
“I had just downloaded TikTok and it was kind of a new app at the time,” said Clifton Park resident Misevis of their December 2018 sleepover where they started making videos. “I made her download the app and when we were brainstorming usernames, I said “what about ‘muslimthicc?’ We thought nothing of it at first and made TikToks all night… A few weeks later, she had uploaded a video that got a few hundred likes at first, and then blew up. We were so excited and kept updating each other with the number of likes every hour. It was such a silly video but at that moment I knew that she really had potential on the platform.”
By the time Hashimee reached 20,000 followers last year, she figured she had to let her family know. But she was worried her parents, who immigrated to America from Afghanistan, wouldn’t be too keen on her venture, noting that social media stardom “was never part of their world.” And at first, she was right.
“My parents were like ‘Nope, you’re done, you’re not making anymore videos,’” Hashimee said. “My little brother and I kept making videos, then we hit 200,000 followers. And I was like, ‘Oh, shoot, I need to tell my parents.’ People were coming up to me in public, and I was like how am I going to explain this if it happens in front of them?”
So she told them separately. Her dad laughed, jokingly asking why that many people would follow her in the first place. Her mom, on the other hand, was worried about her safety, which she admits was a completely understandable concern.
“It is scary to think that millions of people have seen the inside of my house, know what my siblings look like, know what my parents look like,” Hashimee said. “It is a weird thing to think about. But my mom has totally come around. I’ll go visit her at work and her coworkers would be like, ‘You’re mom told us about this cool thing that you did.’”
“My parents have been really proud of me.”
Inside Zahra’s world
Hashimee’s content varies by day. From videos of her cat, to Chipotle-sponsored clips, to car-seat-style vlogs with members of her family, to explaining her faith as a Muslim woman to her followers, the college student has capitalized on her ability to connect with millions through her humor, wit and drive.
“I’m just being myself,” Hashimee said. “They’re just little snapshots and tidbits of what’s going on in my world.”
And, with the instant fame, you’d think it would be impossible to get around campus at UAlbany. Some TikTokkers have become the subject of paparazzi videos. Other recent stars, like Sarah Cooper, have used social media to find…