Wanting an escape from the stress of beauty school, Tyler Rusher finally decided to make a TikTok, a decision that wound up changing their life. As a Black, non-binary, fat, and queer creator, Tyler wasn’t sure how big of an audience there would be for their content, but now with over half a million followers, those doubts are forever put to rest. The road hasn’t been easy – Tyler has had to face multiple permanent bans and racist harassment – but their future looks bright. Tyler wants to become more involved in the acting world and hopes to one day land on Netflix or Hulu, as well as explore their passion for music. We’ll be watching! Check out Tyler on TikTok and Instagram.
Cliché: How did you first become involved with comedy?
It’s a crazy story actually. When I was younger I was getting bullied a lot and one day my mother told me to crack a really mean joke “Well tell him his mother looks like a cr*ckhead” I wasn’t the type of child to play the dozens or go at someone but when I did that day, not only were kids laughing at him and not me but I got punched in the face haha! As I got older though, I wasn’t always using it as a defense. Sometimes I did just use it to make people laugh and when I was 16 I made videos on Facebook recapping high school which made people laugh and gained me wide popularity & different kinds of friends from all walks of life. At 19 I just decided to do standup, it felt like a natural progression.
What motivated you to start making TikToks?
Two of my friends in beauty school actually. They felt that I would be so funny and just super entertaining. I did NOT agree. I felt that my humor was gonna either come off too adult, too mean or just too weird like I’ve been called my whole life. They insisted though, over and over until I just gave in and made one. Since beauty school was already becoming a mental warzone for me I thought why not have a mini escape from something that I thought I was going to love.
Were you surprised by how quickly your following blew up?
ABSOLUTELY! Especially being black, queer AND fat. There’s no way that this many people wanted to watch me and liked/loved me. It was weird. It almost felt like some sick joke I created in my head for a moment but everyday when I woke up there was a new gang of people and new wave of support.
Your account has been permanently banned without warning twice. How did this affect you? What was it like to suddenly have your platform ripped out from under you?
The first time it happened it came as a complete and utter shock. It was early in the morning I went to scroll the For You page and when I opened the app it said, “Your account has been permanently banned.” I started welling up with tears, sending emails, shaking, crying, confused & yet nothing was changing. All day long I sat in my room wondering what I did KNOWING I did nothing wrong. 3 days. It was 3 days before I got my account back and they told me the reason as to why they took it down or even why they were giving it back. I was so tired of TikTok at that point. Between the racism, a man stalking me and now THIS I thought who was I doing it for. Watching the videos though of people crying and screaming and demanding my account back, seeing mutuals stick up for me, I knew then, that’s why and that’s for who. The second time I got banned I was HIGHLY annoyed and then 10hrs later BOOM my account is back. Stressful isn’t even the word I’d use for this app!
Why did you decide to come out and what was the reaction like? How are you finding navigating the Internet as a queer Black person?
I felt like 22 was late enough to be in the closet (for me personally take ya’ll time) my mother’s reaction was “I always knew you liked bitches Tyler I was just waiting on you to say something” I was shocked. Later when we talked more in depth she said she always sensed it and just never wanted to push me and knew she’d love me and fight for me either way. Her sister thinks it’s a choice, my brother thinks I’ll burn in hell & I’m the “white man’s whore” ahhh family. My original friends in Cleveland Ohio love and support me and so do all my new friends I’ve made since leaving the state. Now being Non Binary, Bisexual & very well known on the internet I love being that helping hand for young people still in the closet or out and just feel like they don’t have support.
You’ve spoken about the racism you’ve faced on TikTok. What does TikTok need to do in order to address racism and anti-Blackness on the platform?
Delete the accounts that actively harass its black creators. Crack down like bigger platforms like YouTube and don’t let these big creators who do racist things and small creators who do it slide by. There’s also a HUGE grooming and sexual predator problem that they have to deal with with big creators but since they make money for the app, TikTok won’t speak out or take them down. They’re also massive bullies but I guess bullying is cute these days.
How can TikTok users better support and elevate Black creators?
Verify more of us, put us in ads, give us deals and more support as much as your white creators. Have them collab and show real unity on the platform and not just say it. Stop muting and taking down videos that black creators make about police brutality and racism we experience just because it makes you uncomfortable. Why is it better said with white lips than my black ones?
You recently hit 500,000 followers, congratulations! What does that milestone mean to you?
THE WORLD!!!!! I’m still in shock to tell you the truth. It’s blowing my mind. I can’t believe that half a million people find my silly ass entertaining. To get beautiful art and messages and comments, that’s the fun part for me. My fans genuinely make me laugh as well as me making them laugh. I never make content with the intent of going viral either, I just want to make people feel good and laugh. Never thought being myself would do this. I said it in high school but damn…does doing it feel better.
What inspires you to continue making content? How do you see your comedy evolving moving forward?
My followers, society, my life, my past and just because I want to be seen, change the world, flip it on its head and have people go “Damn Tyler so crazy!” I definitely see it evolving past TikTok and hopefully into a career on Netflix or Hulu or some kind of acting. That’s where I eventually want to go. I’ve always wanted to be a comedic/dramatic actress. So hopefully that’s where I go! And lots of volunteering
You also have many other career ambitions including acting, modeling, and singing! What do you think the future holds for you in terms of exploring other opportunities?
I’m definitely thinking of making a mixtape of covers for my followers since the cat’s out of the bag that I can sing haha. When it comes to modeling, I hope so. Being an alternative model with piercings and tattoos who’s plus size is something that’s needed on the scene right now. Plus I love experimenting with hair so it’s nothing for me to have blue hair one day and green the next. I’ve wanted to act since I was 3 so clearly my next stop is the big screen not just your phone screens!!!
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Tyler Rusher on Their Unexpected Ascension to TikTok Comedy Royalty. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tyler Rusher.