A Black TikTok star from London who has shot to social media fame, is living with his mum in emergency accommodation provided for homeless people.
Drama student Ehiz Ufuah’s popularity boomed during the pandemic, and yet he is officially homeless after his family lost their council house when they fell on hard times.
Ehiz and his family were rehoused temporarily in a Travelodge in January 2020, but despite their difficult circumstances, the 22-year-old has attracted a massive online following after making popular TikTok videos.
‘I first joined TikTok in February 2020 to see what the hype was about,’ says Ehiz. ‘I only had about three followers, then one day one of my videos – a comedy clip – went viral. My family and friends were texting me, telling me I was famous.’
Ehiz’s clips are all about funny and relatable situations. A clip of his inner monologue debating whether or not to wash the dishes was a huge hit with followers.
‘I couldn’t believe all the attention it got me. TikTok has really helped to make me known,’ says Ehiz.
‘I was doing some Christmas shopping in London in December 2020, and I was escorted out of Primark because too many people were crowding around to get a picture,’ he explains.
Ehiz even caught the attention of TikTok influencer agency Yoke Network, who in March invited him to join a community of five TikTokers making a ‘Big Brother-style’ show for YouTube. In the show, the influencers lived in a Surrey mansion called The Wave House for three months and film what they get up to.
‘It was an incredible experience, waking up every day in a mansion, having a whole swimming pool and movie theatre to enjoy,’ says Ehiz.
‘We were all from different backgrounds though, and at times it felt very isolating. I felt like I had to work 10 times harder, because I’m still at drama school and was juggling my studying with social media and filming.’
When filming ended earlier this month, he was brought crashing back to reality when he moved back in with his mum in emergency accommodation in a house in Romford, east London – he wasn’t paid for taking part in the show.
But Ehiz, who is one of six kids, is incredibly optimistic about his future and where his TikTok stardom could take him.
‘I get recognised all the time in the street. People are constantly coming up to me, especially when I’m in central London,’ he says. ‘I love it and people are always really positive about my videos.’
Ehiz says his funny videos have even attracted a few famous fans – as he has seen them being reposted on Instagram by some of the cast of Love Island.
‘Megan McKenna from The Only Way Is Essex has reached out to me,’ he says. ‘But the person I was most star struck by was supermodel Adut Akech.
‘I couldn’t understand why a supermodel like Adut Akech would want to speak to me, but she said she loved my videos.
‘This past year has been a whirlwind, my life has changed so much.’
One thing Ehiz really wants to achieve next is his debut in the movie world.
‘I’ve always thought that it would be impossible to become a Hollywood actor but, in recent years, I’ve seen a lot of actors who weren’t from privileged backgrounds break into the industry,’ he says.
‘They’re creating stories and changing the pattern of the industry. It’s my dream to act and I’d love to end up in LA doing what I love.’
Despite his huge following, Ehiz’s financial gains have still been relatively modest.
Since September 2020, he has been earning around £3,000 a month from the creator fund on TikTok, a scheme that enables users to monetise their videos, and brand sponsorships work – but he says the income is unstable.
‘The money side of social media is something I find really frustrating,’ he says. ‘People think that because of my enormous following, I must make thousands upon thousands a month.
‘The income I now make is great but I’m not sure how long I’ll be making that kind of money for and I’m still not in a position to buy property.
‘At the moment, it’s all about the exposure TikTok gives me.
‘I have big dreams for the future and, while we’re not in a financial position to move yet, one day I’d love to get to a point where I can buy my family a home. Miracles do happen.’
You can follow Ehiz’s funny and relatable content on TikTok.
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