Social media sensation, inspirational speaker and positive influencer: join us as we get to know “The Best TikToker to Follow”…

Photography by Jonny Marlow

Photography by Jonny Marlow

Get to know the stellar Drea Okeke, known as @DreaKnowsBest and hailed as one of “The Best TikTokers to Follow”. Drea is a Nigerian-American content creator, whose talents lie within comedy, storytelling, consultancy, motivational and public speaking. Widely known for her relatable comedic skits and videos that amplify her Nigerian culture, Drea is a true blessing to the social media realm.

With over 6.3 million followers on TikTok, Drea’s main focus is to inspire, uplift and contribute to positive change through her content. Drea can be seen highlighting her experience as a Nigerian American in the second season of the Fuse Original Series We Need to Talk About America, which features sharp-witted, honest reactions to American pop culture oddities and life in United States from notable first-generation comedians.

Through promoting self-love and sharing her own personal stories, including her journey with alopecia, Drea is a refreshing figure to follow, particularly for the young and aspiring generations. Her dedication to uplifting the Black community whilst celebrating her heritage and culture, through her comedic yet educational content is undeniably needed and widely appreciated.

Drea is a shining star and the figure we all need in our lives. We connected with the multi-talented entrepreneur, and got to know the beautiful mind behind the content.

Read the exclusive interview below…

Hey Drea! How are you? What does a typical day in your life look like for you right now?
Hi Hi! I’m doing very well, thank you. A typical day in my life can either be really structured or adventurous, my days revolve around content! On a structured day, I start my morning playing tennis, taking meetings with my team to plan my content calendar, engaging with my community online, shooting content, and then winding down in the evening to do it all over again the next day. When it’s spontaneous, I’m probably traveling to a new city or country to explore and capture content of the beauty it has to offer.

We’d love to know about your early days! Where did your love for what you do begin?
My love for what I do began during my college days. This is where I discovered content creation as a form of an escape from the endless studying that I was doing to get my Bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering. I started to make videos of myself as a fun distraction and a way to entertain both myself along with my peers. What initially started as a way to kill time quickly evolved into a passion for creating engaging and relatable content.

Even after graduating and moving to California to work as a full-time engineer, I continued content creation as an outlet to express myself and connect with others. As I gained more traction and recognition around 2018, I realised that making people laugh and bringing joy through my content was what truly fuelled me.

Witnessing people drawn to my videos and receiving positive feedback inspired me to fully embrace content creation as a career. The love and support from my growing audience further solidified my commitment to entertaining and inspiring others. Today, my journey in content creation continues to be a labor of love, where I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect with a diverse and engaged community through my humour and relatable storytelling!

You have been hailed as one of the best TikTokers to follow of all time. What has your journey been like with the social media platform? How does it compare to others?
On TikTok I was able to show up as myself and found a community that related to me. On other platforms, there is this invisible pressure to present or show up as a curated version of myself or create behind a facade. Whereas on TikTok, it is refreshingly more conducive to self-expression. I am able to share things that made me who I am such as my Nigeria culture and being a tall female. The same features that I was bullied for as a kid. I think that I was able to tap into TikTok’s unique format and inclusive atmosphere by being relatable and authentic but most importantly by being unapologetically me.

Throughout your content, you skilfully create relatable comedic skits and videos that amplify your Nigerian culture. Why is this so important to you? And how do you use your platform to educate and inspire the next generation of content creators?
Amplifying my Nigerian culture through relatable comedic skits and personality videos is deeply important to me as it allows me to showcase the richness, and beauty of my heritage to the world while also being fun. Growing up, I was bullied for being African and having an accent. Yet my parents raised me to be proud of my heritage. Fast forward to today, what was used to tear me down has made me a trailblazer in my industry!

While being proud of my Nigerian roots, I aim to break stereotypes, foster understanding, and celebrate the diversity of my culture. Infusing humour into my content creates a bridge that connects people from different backgrounds, sparking conversations, and promoting cultural appreciation.

Using my platform, I am dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation of content creators, especially those from underrepresented communities. Through my podcast and TikTok Masterclass, “Next Level Influence,” I share valuable insights, tips, and strategies. My goal is to empower aspiring creators to embrace their unique voices and navigate the digital landscape with confidence. As an example of success in the content creation space, I want to show that representation matters and that one can thrive while staying true to their roots. By uplifting and supporting emerging talent, I strive to foster a more diverse and inclusive content creation community that celebrates authenticity and cultural heritage.

You have been recognised for promoting self-love and confidence, including sharing your personal hair story with alopecia. Can you tell us more about this journey and why it is key for you to uplift others through your own experiences?
I remember the moment before I pressed publish on that video… It was the hardest post I’ve ever had to do because having alopecia is such a sensitive subject for me. And the thought of being vulnerable to the entire world, was overwhelmingly daunting. I knew that my intention for wanting to share it with people was to show that self-love is a journey worth embracing, and that it’s okay to be different, but that didn’t negate how hard of a decision it was. The hardest mountain to climb isn’t the tallest one but the one where you have to face your demons, and by demons I mean insecurities. But I pushed the button nevertheless and it was published for everyone to see.

And oh my goodness! It turned out to be the best decision I have ever made, not just for my self confidence and self love but I also got a chance to influence others to love and accept themselves, recognising that our uniqueness is our strength, and we don’t have to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. Based on the thousands of comments and DMs I received in response to the video, where people also got to share their own hair journey with me and tell me they, too, will embrace their insecurities… I can say my mission was successful- I got to overcome my insecurities and inspire others, that’s a win win!

Telling stories of our experiences and authenticity on social media is so important. Our shared experiences can foster a community of support, love, and acceptance, where everyone feels empowered to embrace their true selves unapologetically. We deserve to set our own beauty standards because in my book, imperfection is perfection!

What advice would you give to aspiring creators on effectively connecting with younger audiences on social media?
Stop creating content for everyone, stop servicing everyone cause not everyone is going to need what you have to offer. If you’re talking to everyone then you’re talking to no one. Create content for yourself, content that you wish was out there and then find that community that speaks your language, they will inherently enjoy or gain from watching your content, because it is true and authentic to YOU.

Ask yourself these questions: Who am I trying to serve? What are their goals, aspirations, PROBLEMS? How will my content serve them? When you know who your target audience is , you can create content that will add value to them and they will naturally connect with you.

What have been some of the most memorable moments or highlights of your career so far? Is there a particular moment or occasion that stands out to you?
Most memorable moments of my career so far are hosting on the 2022 BET Awards red carpet and securing my Nissan brand partnership two years in a row. Back in 2016, I wrote in my journal about how excited I was to buy my first car, a used 2007 Nissan Altima. I had to use up all my savings to make it happen. Little did I know that this car would become my rock when I decided to pursue content creation full-time in 2018. I drove that car all the way to LA, working hard, attending hosting classes, and collaborating with other creators, all to make my dreams come true. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy giving up my career path in engineering, especially with my Nigerian immigrant parents, but I had to believe in myself and push through the doubts. After six years, my first major brand collab was with none other than Nissan, a half a million dollar contract and they gave me a brand-new car! It was a full circle moment– a dream within a dream. Through this partnership, my words from 2018 about being the host of a major red carpet event also became a reality. Four years later, I found myself on the BET Awards red carpet, hosting like I always dreamed of, and was even featured in Nissan’s nationwide commercial. Reflecting on all this, I realised that the little seed I planted, taking that leap of faith, grew into something beyond my wildest imagination. So many answered prayers, perfectly woven together, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

You have collaborated with notable celebrities and worked with renowned brands. How do you approach these collaborations and maintain authenticity in your content? What criteria do you consider when choosing partnerships?
I gravitate towards collaborations with brands that resonate with my values and beliefs. If I do not genuinely use a brand’s products or have a connection with them, I won’t move forward with the partnership. My followers can tell when I’m all about the money or when I genuinely care about the brand.

The last thing I wanna do is pretend to be into a brand just for a quick buck. That’s a big no-no because it messes with the trust I’ve built with my awesome online community. I’ve had the chance to work with lots of brands like Google, Amazon, L’Oreal, Walmart etc, and sure, back in the day, there were times I did it for the money. But let me tell you, that strategy was a total creative buzzkill. Trying to come up with video ideas for promoting a brand I didn’t connect with was a drag, and the stress just wasn’t worth it.

Now, when I team up with a brand I love, I get super excited for the campaign! My creative juices flow like crazy, and I’m able to craft a storyline for their campaign that perfectly aligns with my regular content. So when my audience watches the ad, it feels like it’s just another part of my content, and that’s the sweet spot. The video performs numbers, and it’s a win for my client and my audience!

What is your opinion of the beauty and fashion industry currently?
The beauty and fashion industry has undergone significant changes in recent years, particularly in terms of representation and inclusivity. There has been a growing awareness of the importance of diverse representation, reflecting a broader range of body types, skin colours, ethnicities, gender identities, economic backgrounds, and abilities in marketing and media campaigns in general. Which I’m an advocate for because it challenges the traditional narrow definitions and discussions of beauty.

Consumers and advocacy efforts have played a significant role in pushing for these changes, and the industry has started to respond. While progress has been made, it is essential to acknowledge that there is still work to be done. The industry must continue striving for more diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability, moving beyond tokenism and embracing genuine and authentic representation.

Congratulations on the development of your own TikTok Masterclass, “Next Level Influence.” What is one key takeaway an attendee can expect from this masterclass? And why should aspiring creators sign up to it?
Thank you so much! One thing I’m not going to do is gate-keep my knowledge on how to leverage TikTok to grow your audience and generate income. As an expert in content creation, I have developed and built Next Level Influence—an interactive 12-part video training program. This course offers practical tools and strategies to help creators rapidly grow their audience using short-video content, build an authentic brand, and scale their online presence.

The one key takeaway attendees can expect is learning how to position themselves as leading voices in their industry by strategically creating short-form videos that leverage the algorithm to push their content onto their audience’s feed.

Aspiring creators should sign up for the course because your audience is the most valuable asset you can own and now is the time to invest in cultivating an audience you’ll be able to keep for the rest of your life.

With that said, the purpose behind this course is to help today’s creators create financial freedom for themselves doing work they love. Ultimately, to turn their passion of creating into their paycheck and capitalise on the creator economy. One of the incredible aspects of this course is that though it’s a TikTok-centric course, the wealth of knowledge and strategies shared are transferable and can be applied to growing on all social media platforms that use short video formats.

We’re interested in hearing about your current and upcoming projects. Can you give us a glimpse of what’s in store for you in terms of your career and creative pursuits?
I have a lot in the pipeline, but what I am most excited about is the creation of my card game, “Nonsense” by Mama D. The “Nonsense” by Mama D card game aims to create a fun and relatable experience, rooted in the essence of our ethnic cultures, where we playfully tease and poke fun at each other, all in good humour and affection.

The game stems from a popular character I play online called “Mama D,” who is known for her witty and savage commentary. Some of my favourite memories growing up with my siblings were when we played card games together. Card games have a wonderful way of bringing people together, fostering connections, and creating cherished memories with loved ones. I have no doubt that “Nonsense” by Mama D will bring joy and laughter to many homes and strengthen family bonds. That’s what I’m most excited about!

In the years to come, in an effort to continue my mission of uplifting creators of colour, I would love to put together an event for us. This event will create a space for creators of colour to connect, learn, and showcase their talents—a space for us, by us.