When a brand is in the market for a one-woman stage play, Aimee Alcime delivers
Aimee Alcime doesn’t have purple eyes, but her @aimyoncee character occasionally does, thanks to TikTok’s Eye Color Switch Effect. And the hue just seems to work for her, complementing her complexion and broad smile while affecting an exotic vibe. In one of her most popular videos (12.1 million views), the 22-year-old spends 15 seconds performing the ubiquitous “Questions I get asked” hand routine while seated in the passenger seat of a car. It starts with “Are those really your eyes?” and ends with “Guys, stop asking silly questions.”
Her routines are typically far more elaborate, comprising multiple takes, voice-overs, and several characters. She says it can take four or five hours to create 15-second videos of, for example, the reactions she gets in class while opening a bag of pretzels (1.6 million views) or her embarrassment at introducing herself to class (2.2 million views) while being Black but having a white name. She puts similar effort into her ads, and the results speak for themselves.
Alcime filmed an elaborate dog-walking scene for Pop-Tarts (2.7 million views) that morphs to an alternative reality. A “What would Pop-Tarts do?” voice-over instantly transports her to a red carpet, where she saunters in a gold lamé gown while holding a breakfast treat. A #FAKEAFLASHNAP video for Fenty Skin eye gel-cream did even better. Wearing a purple bonnet and nodding off in front of a book, she spreads the gel under her eyes and instantly wakes up revived and glamorous (4.8 million views).
If there’s one ad that truly captures Alcime’s creativity and humor it’s the TikTok she created for Always Radiant pads. She created an elaborate story about wearing white pants to school on the first day of her period. “I put on an Always pad and put one in my book bag just in case,” she says. “Not that I need to because it’s up to 100% leak and odor free.” The video depicts snippets of Alcime in math, science, and reading. After gym, her peers begin pointing and laughing. She realizes she hadn’t changed her pad all day. Fearful that she’s bled into her white pants, she bolts for the bathroom, only to realize they were laughing because her fly was down. The skit ends with her kissing the box of pads and the voice-over. “I love you, Always pads.” 3.6 million views.
It can be harrowing for creators to inject ads into their feed. While ads mean money, they can cause an exodus of followers and, even more frequently, create a backlash in the comments. But Alcime doesn’t seem to have that problem. The reactions to the Always ads are effusive. As in, “Best ad I seen ever,” and “You put so much effort into these ads,” and “This was an emotional roller coaster.”
It’s all a tribute to Alcime’s creativity. When Always approached, the company didn’t offer any creative direction—just a few boxes of the product. “They didn’t actually give me an idea of what do to. But they wanted comedy—which is why most brands choose me. And so I’m like, Hmm, okay, what can I do to make the audience want to keep watching?” she says. “One thing I’m known for in my videos is my plot twists.”
Alcime started making videos a few years ago for Instagram, where she’d typically accumulate a few dozen likes. When she started going viral on TikTok, it was a big adjustment. “I could not handle it. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping. I was like, Oh, my gosh, these people like me,” she says. It made her feel as though she needed to keep one-upping previous videos to earn the adulations of viewers. “Which was kind of the wrong mindset. I would stay up until 5 a.m. creating content trying to make more videos.”
Slowly, she gained more confidence to just be herself. “Not caring what people thought about me is what kept me going. I’m just not ashamed to be myself.”
A version of this article appears in the October/November 2021 issue of Fortune.
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This story is part of Fortune‘s Creator Economy package.