Meet The TikTok Star Raising Awareness For Women’s Health Through Humour

The young actress has made her own profile online.
Image: Instagram

The traditional story of a budding actress follows a young woman flinging herself between castings, likely working part time jobs between gigs and maybe, just maybe, becoming a household name.

However, in today’s modern social media environment, the ability to reach millions of people through acting is no longer the prerogative of one lone casting director. Instead, it is democratized, with new household names creating their own ‘big shot’ online.

One such Australian talent is TikTok star Maddy MacRae, who boasts 1.8 million followers on the platform, as well as 947K followers on Instagram. She’s beloved for her wit, focus on women’s health and her uncanny ability to make light of even the most embarrassing relatable moments.

We sat down with the star, who is a professionally trained actress, about what this new career path means to her, how she continues to find such ingenious and knee-slappingly comedic skits, as well as what’s on her next frontier.

How Did Maddy MacRae Start Her Career On TikTok?

MacRae turned her passion for acting into a new gig. Image: Instagram

Like many young Australians, MacRae exited school and went straight into tertiary study, enrolling in a Communications degree, majoring in Media Arts & Production, at UTS. At the time, social media was in a fledgling state and the video content we are now accustomed to on TikTok didn’t exist. After UTS, MacRae took a foray into acting, taking up professional training to enter the Hollywood realms.

However, like many aspiring actresses trying to make it in the very small local scene, it was hard to break into that world. It was Covid that saw MacRae turn her affinity for being in front of the camera and the editing skills she perfected throughout her tertiary studies into something more.

“I’m an actor and I was working in retail [before Covid]. The retail job was supporting me while I struggled and failed to audition for work as an actor, and then the second lockdown happened,” she tells marie claire Australia. “Retail obviously closed and there were no productions happening. I was just really bored, I was living alone, and TikTok exploded in 2020.”

“I was like, ‘I’m just going to make them for fun’. I had no intention of it becoming bigger than just me posting silly little lip-syncs.”

Eventually, MacRae started posting her voice to the platform too, mimicking relatable scenarios like when a parent does something completely mundane that they think is the funniest thing ever.

“That was the first time that I went, kind of viral,” she explains. “A couple of months later I posted a skit inside the stomach, which is a series I still do, and this one blew up beyond anything I ever imagined. That one hit like 22 million views.”

MacRae’s following skyrocketed, gaining 200,000 followers in just one week, with the skit being reposted everywhere. Soon management were reaching out to her to offer help monetizing and working with brands, and millions of people have followed her social media journey since.

Despite her viral success, MacRae still hasn’t taken her eyes off the prize of doing a traditional acting job, she’s still auditioning. But social media has given her an outlet to act every day, and she gets to write it too.

“TikTok, Instagram and social media, in general, has really offered me this like self-guided acting career. I’ve grown my own audience without having to have a casting director tell me to change my appearance or a director telling me I’m not right for the role,” she explains. “The roles that I play in my skits…of course I’m right for them, because I write them for myself.”

Democratizing The ‘Hollywood’ Niche

MacRae interviewing Margot Robbie alongside fellow TikToker Starr McGowan. Image: Instagram

It’s clear that audiences respond to MacRae’s jubilant content, her natural sense of humour and keen comedic timing.

Her success online could suggest that the traditional acting routes and casting processes are overlooking good talent that’s sitting right in front of them. MacRae tells marie claire that while the industry has worked to rid outdated beauty standards, in practice, it’s hard to land roles if you don’t fit into a specific ‘category’ of actors.

“It’s ‘body positive’ now, but when I see people cast in shows it’s…I mean I say ‘Bondi Beauty’ because I saw a TikTok this morning, but the Australians getting cast are ‘Bondi Beauty’ and that’s not me,” she explains.

“So I’m just like, well I’m going to have to write a show for myself.”

We ask MacRae whether or not body positive hiring is really happening in practice, to which she replies a firm ‘no’.

“It’s two very different ends of the spectrum. You have the thin romantic lead or the ‘bigger’ funny friend but I’m like, where’s the midsized average girl? All I see is either one or the other,” she says.

The good news is that the industry is starting to recognise that online creators offer a brand new pool of talent. In fact, recently MacRae had a complete ‘full circle’ moment, attending the The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards, after being nominated for the ‘Digital Creative’ award.

MacRae says that when she was at drama school they were given the opportunity to be ‘seat fillers’ at the show, so that when the cameras pan over the audience it looks full. It was a lot different attending as an actual nominee.

“It’s been like seven years since I finished drama school, so to be going for a job that didn’t exist when I studied, but at the same award show amongst film and television peers, is kind of crazy,” she says. “To be going for that and to be nominated for it is really, really amazing.”

Maddy MacRae On Breaking Barriers Around Women’s Health

If you’ve watched any of MacRae’s content, you’ll know it offers a feminist lens, which encourages women to relate to one another about things that happen to all of us but that we never talk about.

Whether it’s sex, bloating or relationships, MacRae’s content has covered it with a searing truthfulness and humorous edge.

She tells marie claire that coming from a family where all topics were welcome and normal to talk about helped her to be so bold with the genre of content she makes, especially when it comes to women’s health.

“We are humans and I just want to remove the stigma that we have to be these picture perfect beings that fart rainbows and butterflies and all that,” she explains. “Definitely in Australia I think we’re fairly progressive in those kinds of topics but because my audience is so global, I do get messages from people saying ‘You’ve made me feel so much more comfortable talking about this’.”

MacRae discussing her podcast. Image: Instagram

For MacRae, who also runs the podcast Sometimes Funny Always Awkward, reminding women that they don’t have to sit primly on the cage-like pedestal that’s been made for them is important.

“We always celebrate being messy and not perfect,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of messages from people who are like (not in an offensive way), ‘Thanks for letting me know that I don’t have to be perfect’.”

She’s also seen messages from fans who have accepted their body more after watching her videos. “They’re like, ‘I’m so grateful that I see someone my body type online’,” she explains, adding that embracing pale skin has also been a message she’s received a lot.

Given her content sits on social media alongside a lot of hyper-curated reels and videos, coming across one of MacRae’s TikToks feels like a breath of fresh air.

What Inspires MacRae’s Comedy Content?

Series like ‘Friends’ continue to inspire her. Image: Friends

MacRae says that the crux of a good social media skit lies in the timing, and she watches the pros on shows like Brooklyn 99, constantly studying the best deliveries and ways to make a line sing.

Similarly, hit series Friends has been key in shaping her comedic approach, with both shows having quick one liners that suit the shorter style of social media videos.

The key, she says, is the self-deprecation she infuses into her content. “I always try to make fun of myself before making fun of others,” she says. “There’s a rule in comedy, ‘you punch up’, which is a terrible term. But it means you make fun of people on your level and then also people who are, like, socially above you, which is why I kind of get away with making fun of men,” she laughs.

“But I do it in a kind of dorky and loving way because I don’t want anyone to feel attacked.”

Of course, with 1.8 million followers now eyeballing her content, MacRae has become a recognizable Australian star. Fans come up to meet her on the street, message her saying they saw her but didn’t want to disturb her (“I’m always like, please, please come say ‘hi’,” she says) and comment profusely on her pages. “It’s still so novel,” she says of getting recognized.

What’s Next For Maddy MacRae?

MacRae attends the AACTA Awards 2024. Image: Instagram

While Macrae is continuing to build her social media empire, she has a few other things on the burner.

Her podcast is going strong, and she’s planning on continuing her journey in the traditional acting realms. She’s also developed a real love for writing content and scripts, so is in the process of developing a ‘rom-com’ type show. She pitches it, “Think Sex And The City or Girls, but Australian.”

After becoming thoroughly addicted to her social media videos, we can safely say that we’ll watch anything MacRae decides to make.

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