Meet Viral TikTok Creator DaMya Gurley
With more than one billion users active on the platform each month, TikTok has established itself as one of the top social media platforms for content creators to grow their personal brands and audience. This leaves many creatives with the opportunity to stand out in their own way and create unique content that reaches the oftentimes coveted status of “viral”—content that explodes and reaches audiences on its origin platform and beyond. DaMya Gurley, a queer content creator based in Los Angeles, California, is no stranger to this. Acting since the early age of five, DaMya has utilized her talents to create funny, relatable, and oftentimes viral content on TikTok and now has amassed almost 360 thousand followers on the platform.
I had the pleasure of interviewing DaMya and learning more about her experience as a creator and hearing her thoughts on virality.
Stapleview, Satire, & Social Media
“My acting journey started when I noticed a desire to be one of the girls on the big screen, even though I didn’t look like any of the girls on the big screen. I went to one of the best acting schools in the country and had been training there until I landed a comedy sketch series thanks to my TikTok! Since then, I’ve just been kicking it in LA and seeing what other opportunities God will bring," Gurley says.
The series she’s referencing—Stapleview, TikTok Live’s first, fully-produced sketch comedy series with the goal of providing TikTok users with new and entertaining content that will stream live each week and run between 40 - 60 minutes. Think Saturday Night Live (SNL) but for TikTok, starring TikTok creators.
DaMya is just one of seven creators to star in the cast however, she has established her own brand where she is most notable for her videos in which she pokes fun at movie and television tropes. In one of her most viewed TikToks (now with over 7 million views), titled “Every Disney Channel Movie Pt. 9837369383” she acts out the common plot in many Disney Channel shows or films where the shy, awkward student finally uses their voice to solve a complicated math problem. While many creators are still establishing themselves in the realm of comedic content, DaMya has mastered the art of combining satirical style with relatable and culturally relevant storytelling. She has had a lot of practice since spending much of her time in quarantine, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, making videos just for the eyes of her inner circle.
“I fell in love with TikTok a few months before quarantine and had kind of started making funny private videos to show my friends. After quarantine was when I really got confident enough to post public videos. I had one video go viral and then posted daily for about three months before I went viral again and I found my footing from there.”
DaMya’s TikTok presence has led to many opportunities. While her casting in Stapleview is the most recent, she has also partnered with major brands like Target, EOS, and Amazon Prime Video. Partnerships with the world’s largest brands seem to be the ultimate goal for many creators and influencers, which oftentimes makes jumping on viral trends the instinct in the race for high visibility and reach on social media platforms. However, DaMya’s point of view is that chasing virality isn’t always the way.
“Virality can’t be the only goal. Everyone wants that. What are you passionate about? Lead with that and you’ll not only go far, but you won’t get tired of doing it. I had to learn that very early on. I used to just get on camera and do or say what I thought was trending. Not only was I unsuccessful but it wasn’t fulfilling at all.”
Quality over quantity or in this case, virality, seems to be the best approach for creators to take when looking for ways to stand out from other influencers and creatives. Leaning into this strategy not only allows creators to focus on their niche but it makes it easier for brands to find exactly what they’re looking for. This also makes it easy for creators to establish their rates and have long-lasting relationships with brands. For DaMya, a partnership with longevity is one that is also equitable.
“Virality can’t be the only goal. Everyone wants that. What are you passionate about? Lead with that and you’ll not only go far, but you won’t get tired of doing it.
- DaMya Gurley
“If your content is good enough to get their attention, it is good enough to get you compensated fairly and reasonably. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth. Exposure doesn’t pay the bills! Until I got a manager, I was completely underpaid by really big brands and corporations. Not everyone has access to legit management and they shouldn’t have to be underpaid as a result.” Her singular advice for brands wanting to partner with creators—pay creators what you know you can.
B*tch Better Have Her Money
For DaMya, pay equity is definitely a priority but as a queer, plus-sized Black woman, visibility for creators like her is of utmost importance. In 2019, it was discovered that TikTok had been suppressing content from creators that identified as disabled, queer, and/or fat.
Although it was described as a temporary anti-bullying measure, many creators felt that it was another form of discrimination. A couple of years later, in response to an article published by Forbes featuring the highest earning TikTok creators of 2022, many Black creators voiced their concerns about White creators being rewarded for cultural appropriation. “I just want to see more plus-size Black girls get the credit that they deserve. We are amongst the most innovative people on every platform but are always overlooked. If I see another ‘Black content creators’ article that leaves out plus-sized and queer Black people, I might scream.”
Despite the challenges of showing up as a Black woman who is also queer and plus-sized, DaMya still feels as though creators, influencers, and aspiring actors in her community still have a chance to have success on social media.
As for the specific social media platforms, she feels that TikTok and Instagram are the ones that are easier to stand out on. “With consistency and creativity, you can really find your audience for just about anything.” Armed with creative talent and a focus on consistency, we can expect DaMya to reach her 500k follower mark no time soon. As she continues to create on TikTok, she hopes to join the likes of Issa Rae, Jordan Peele, and Qunita Brunson and write authentic stories that are meaningful to her.
Where To Find DaMya
If you’d like to follow DaMya and see more of her content, click the links below.