Addison Rae on TikTok, Cancel Culture, and Kourtney Kardashian

addison rae easterling headshot in pink shirt

Phylicia J. L. Munn

Addison Rae Easterling is really famous—and always knew she’d appear onscreen. Growing up in a constellation of small Southern towns, the 20-year-old thought a career in broadcast journalism would be just the ticket. But after three months at Louisiana State University, Easterling found TikTok, a social medium she took to immediately, attracting a mind-boggling follower count (82 million thus far) with her lip-sync videos. It wasn’t long before she was off to L.A.

Of course, internet fame doesn’t always add up to traditional stardom, but she’s unlocked that algorithm as well, landing her first major Hollywood role as Padgett, a social media influencer (naturally) in Netflix’s He’s All That (out Aug. 27), a gender-swapped remake of the 1999 teen rom-com She’s All That.

Below, Easterling opens up about channeling her own experiences to play Padgett—and why she says she has to work twice as hard to be “taken seriously.”

Your character in He’s All That is a social media influencer dealing with cancel culture and online trolls. How much did you channel your own experiences while acting?

“[Padgett] has so much growth and development in [figuring out] who she is. And I’ve had to figure that out too. At the end of the day, it’s just really about knowing who you are for yourself and you don’t really have to prove that to anyone else. That’s something my character [and I have learned]—that it doesn’t even matter what people think about me anymore; it just really matters who I know I am.

That’s the part where experience comes through. You live and you learn, and that’s how you figure out exactly how you’re going to handle [trolling] from that point on. I’ve done a lot of that. I think living and learning and figuring out what are the things that are personal and private to me, and what are the things I want to share. And then really making sure I differentiate the two, always.”

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Annie Jacob, Isabella Crovetti and Addison Rae in He’s All That.


What was it like preparing for your first major movie role?

“I was in acting classes probably three times a week, and doing personal coaching over Zoom as well as script analysis. [I tried to find] things I could relate to in my life and how I felt in that moment. The biggest part was being able to connect emotions and figure out exactly how I wanted to read a line or be in a scene. Delivery is the most important part. Even the day of, [before doing] a scene, I would call my acting coach Nancy, and she’d be like, ‘All right, what are you channeling today? What exactly is the mood you’re getting into? How are you going to feel? How are you delivering that line, and how is your character going through this event?’ Then I’d have to get myself in that space. I would sit in my trailer for a few hours before I’d go and do the scene and read my lines and then make sure I was mentally in that space.”

Your good friend Kourtney Kardashian cameos in the movie. How did that come about?

“It’s perfect. I’m so excited for people to see that. It definitely came about because of our friendship. And it just seemed like something so fun, so we talked about it and loved the idea of doing it.”

What actresses do you look to for inspiration?

“I love Julia Roberts, she’s one of my very favorites. Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston—she’s a classic. For sure, those three are amazing. Joey King, she’s amazing. Zendaya is so great. I’ve been watching a lot of her stuff—she really has done a lot of diverse roles recently. There are so many women in this industry that I look up to and I’m so inspired by. I also love Gwyneth Paltrow… She’s amazing. I’m definitely a fan girl, so I’m just watching and learning and observing and just studying what they do.”

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Did you always want to be on the big screen?

“Coming from a small town… I feel like a lot of people don’t normally hear someone say they want to go to Hollywood and be an actress. That’s not a very common thing. Or maybe it is something that people say, but don’t really get the chance to do. I felt like it was unattainable at the time. So I thought, my way in is to go study journalism, and I can be on TV still, but in a way where I could get a degree and then make it in a little more traditional [way]. Then I got super lucky with TikTok, and was so blessed with the chance to move to L.A.”

addison rae hes all that netflix

Madison Pettis, Myra Molloy and Addison Rae in He’s All That.


Was leaving college to pursue a career in entertainment a difficult decision?

“No, I always wanted to live in L.A. I came when I was 16 years old—it was my only birthday wish. I was like, ‘Mom, please, I could even not get anything for Christmas, either. My one birthday wish is for me and my friends to go to LA.’ So we went, and I fell in love, and was like, ‘Oh, I know I’m going to live here one day.’ I hadn’t gone back since, and then when my videos were blowing up, a few people in L.A. reached out to me, and I was like, ‘I need to go. I need to go.’ So my parents supported me fully.”

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What has been the biggest adjustment since being thrust into the spotlight seemingly overnight?

“There’s no right answer for how to handle it; everyone handles it very differently. Some people are super strong, and are able to go through a lot. Others have moments of weakness. I can admit that I have moments of weakness sometimes. It’s hard to have your life under a microscope when you don’t have everything figured out yourself. I’m still learning, I’m still young. I only graduated high school in 2019, so I’m still figuring out how to handle things. For me, it was just keeping my family around me, and keeping really good friends around me—friends that I know love me and know me for me.

I also started therapy, and that is a tool for me to have an outlet and be able to speak my mind and get advice from someone who’s on the outside… I do it once a week right now. But sometimes I’ll do it twice a week if I’m having a rough time.”

How did you segue into acting after first breaking through on TikTok?

“In this industry, when you come in and get labeled as one thing… people like to keep you there. Which is understandable, and I get it, but what people don’t realize is I’ve always wanted to do acting, I’ve always wanted to do music. I’ve always wanted to do all these other things that they didn’t really get to see or know, because I just started being known when I was 19 years old. People haven’t really seen the background, or the classes I used to take and things like that. So I try to tell myself, ‘You have to work that much harder to get people to take you seriously.’”

addison rae hes all that netflix

Addison Rae and Tanner Buchanan in He’s All That.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

“My mom just tells me, ‘Remember who you are. You know who you are, and that’s all that matters.’ You can’t control anyone’s perception of you. That’s something I’ve had to accept. I’m not going to make everyone love me or like me. That is not possible—and then just not having that unrealistic expectation for myself and knowing that I’m human and if I make mistakes, I can learn from them and grow.”

You already have a beauty line with ITEM BEAUTY, a podcast, music career, and now a movie under your belt. What’s next?

“Hopefully I’ll be doing more films within the next few years and continuing to do music and growing my makeup line. All of these things are a big part of who I am. I’m super excited to continue growing and to find myself in this industry and do all the things I’m passionate about. So as long as I’m doing that, I’m super happy.”

A version of this story appears in the August 2021 issue of ELLE.

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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry Condemn “Inequity and Racial Bigotry” in Media

The Sussexes are continuing their mission of speaking out against inequalities within the media industry.

In a statement shared on Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s official website, Archewell, the royal couple showed support for a coalition of U.K. journalists working to bring attention to the racial and fiscal inequalities that plague the industry. The open letter penned by a number of journalists comes after the Society of Editors in the United Kingdom received backlash for stating that no instances of racism or bigotry in U.K. media exists, following the Sussexes landmark interview with Oprah Winfrey, which claimed otherwise.

“Archewell is a proud supporter of journalistic diversity and news media organizations that are committed to reporting the truth, uncovering untold stories and giving voice to the voiceless,” the Sussexes statement began. “In every corner of the world, members of the media are using their power—and responsibility—to inform the public, teach communities, battle misinformation and inspire change.”

The couple’s statement also expressed that they will continue to champion the work of independent media and reporters who are advocating for a more diverse media landscape.

“We also applaud the work of independent media, nonprofit newsrooms and trusted local news collectives. They demonstrate the deep need for this critical profession to thrive and evolve, particularly in terms of racial equity and representation in newsgathering and newsrooms,” the statement added. “That’s why we support groups like The PressPad Charitable Foundation (which helps young people of diverse backgrounds gain entry into the journalism industry) and URL Media (a multi-platform network focused on community media organizations that directly serve and reflect their audiences).”

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The pair’s message concluded, “For these reasons, we are seeking to bring awareness to a coalition of U.K. journalists calling for stronger initiatives to combat the underrepresentation, inequity and racial bigotry that still persist in this important industry.”

Harry and Meghan have spoken openly in recent months about how U.K. tabloid culture was one of several reasons the couple decided to leave royal life behind.

“What I was seeing was history repeating itself,” Harry said during the couple’s interview with Winfrey, also referring to the press’s obsession with his mother, Princess Diana. He added that the press fixation with Meghan was “definitely far more dangerous because then you add race in.”

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Meet Jordan Chiles | 9 Facts About the Elite Team USA Gymnast

Jordan Chiles, 20, is one of the six U.S. gymnasts headed to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. In 2018, Chiles mentally checked out of the sport of gymnastics until she met gymnastic superstar Simone Biles. The 4′ 11″ Vancouver native would later move more than 1,000 miles to train with Biles.

Here’s everything we know about Chiles and her road to the Olympics.

She is named after NBA legend Michael Jordan.

Chiles’ greatness was destined from birth. Her mother, Gina Chiles, named her after the GOAT Michael Jordan.

She is a fan of Spider-Man.

At the 2021 U.S. Gymnastics Championship, Chiles performed a Spider-Man-inspired floor routine. The young gymnast tumbled through the air as music inspired by the Spider-Man films played. In a post-competition interview, Chiles said she chose a Spider-Man theme to “show people that I am a superhero as well.” She continued, “That’s kind of like us. As athletes, we can do anything we put our minds to.”

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Chiles is the CEO of Melanin Drip Co.

The gymnast started her own clothing company, Melanin Drip Co., in June 2020 at the height of the national Black Lives Matter protests. “I started Melanin Drip Clothing Co. to encourage others to LOVE and be PROUD of every inch of themselves. I am a young black woman, a Melanin Queen, and I wanted to create apparel that speaks loud and honors our royal lineage,” Chiles says in her brand’s mission statement.

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She was on the brink of quitting gymnastics until she met Simone Biles.

In an interview with the New York Times, Chiles revealed that she nearly gave up gymnastics in 2017 after not being selected for the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team heading to the world championships. “I didn’t think the sport wanted me anymore. So, I went the opposite direction,” Chiles said. At the 2018 nationals, Jordan finished 11th in the all-around category. She took that as another push to end her career until she had a conversation with someone who would turn her life around.

“I just wanted to finish high school and go off to college. But then I had a talk with Simone [Biles],” Chiles told the Times.

At the end of 2018, Biles suggested Chiles pack her bags and move from Washington to Texas to train with her at the World Champions Centre. Two days after graduating high school, Chiles started her journey back to gymnastics with coaches Cecile and Laurent Landi. Over the years training and living in Texas, Biles and Chiles have like sisters.

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Jordan Chiles and Simone Biles pose with their coaches, Laurent and Cecile Landi.

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In an interview with PopSugar, Chiles revealed how training in Texas changed her life. “Training under Laurent [Landi] and Cecile [Canqueteau-Landi] definitely has changed my whole mindset, my whole attitude, and how I look forward to being in the gym these days. Being able to have coaches who truly understand me and what I’ve gone through and what I want in my career is something that I was really, really happy about,” the star told the outlet.

She plans to attend UCLA in the fall as a freshman.

In November 2018, Chiles signed to the University of California, Los Angeles to continue her education and her gymnastics career. She took to her Instagram to celebrate her major accomplishment. “Thank you, everyone, for coming to support me at my signing❤️ This girl is finally gonna be a BRUIN after so many years,” she wrote. Chiles plans to attend the university in the fall as a freshman.

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Chiles’ mother wrote a children’s book written based on the gymnast’s story.

Before the summer games were postponed in 2020, Chiles’ mother, Gina, wrote a children’s book about her fifth and youngest child. “Dream Big Little Chick”—Chick is a family nickname for Chiles—based the story on her gymnastics journey.

“It was based on Jordan, but I was really thinking of little kids that had their own dream. Especially when things didn’t always seem like it could happen,” Gina Chiles told NBC Sports.

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Chiles is also very close to her father.

Chiles’s father, Timothy Chiles, has been a huge support in Chiles’ life and gymnastics career from the beginning. For Father’s Day, Chiles posted a sweet tribute to celebrate her father. “Dear daddy, I love you so much and couldn’t ask for a better dad❤️You have been with me every step of the way through my journey and I appreciate everything you have done😊 I love you and HAPPY FATHERS DAY OLD MAN😂😂,” she captioned the post.

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Chiles started gymnastics later than her peers.

Chiles didn’t begin practicing gymnastics until the age of seven, which is seen as late in the sport, since many elite gymnasts start classes as toddlers. “I thought it was just like a trampoline park. All the girls were doing flips and stuff, and I thought it looked like fun,” Chiles told ESPN.

After watching the 2008 Olympics, Chiles was star-struck by the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, especially Shawn Johnson, owing to their similar frames. After the games, Chiles was destined to meet Johnson as she stood in line for many hours at a Nike Store in Seattle. In 2019, Chiles flashed back to the unforgettable memory on Twitter.

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Chiles is a star to watch at the Tokyo Olympics.

At the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, Chiles’ placed third on the vault behind Olympian teammates Simone Biles and MyKayla Skinner. She also placed fourth on the uneven bars, floor exercise, and balance beam, which resulted in her being selected for the national team and competing at the Olympic Trials. “Simone was telling me that I deserved what I just did and that I’m basically gifted and talented, and I have the opportunity to make that [Olympic] team. It just all hit me then. I’m so close,” Chiles said later, per NBC Olympics.

Chiles finished third all-around at the Olympic Trials—behind Biles and Suni Lee—for a second place finish on the uneven bars and fourth on the balance beam, earning her a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Chiles is predicted to lock in a qualifying spot in the all-around finals category.

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