Sunday, May 19, 2024

International influencers stake major claim in China social media realm

Must read

Whatever their modus operandi, foreign internet personalities have managed to amass substantial followings in China.

With their diverse expertise and engaging content, who among the following five strikes a chord with you?

Tang Bohu (Annie Lowdermilk)

Tang Bohu, or Annie Lowdermilk, is renowned for her ability to sing Chinese opera. Photo: Baidu

An American singer, actress and internet personality, Tang Bohu, whose real name is Annie Lowdermilk, was born in Denmark in August 1990 and boasts more than 3.6 million followers on Douyin.

After moving to China at the age of 10 with her parents and choosing to work here as an adult, she is particularly praised for her renditions of Chinese opera.

Her dual-role performance in the 2020 song Qing Si, which means Black Hair in Chinese, particularly resonated with online observers, who dubbed her “the foreign girl who sings Chinese opera the best.”

Her appearance on the hit national show Ride the Wind 2023 further solidified her popularity.

FuLaFu (Vladislav Kokolevskii)

Russian national Vladislav Kokolevskii, or FuLaFu, has risen to online fame thanks to his powerful statements of affection for China. Photo: Douyin

Russian internet celebrity Vladislav Kokolevskii, who is known as FuLaFu on Douyin, boasts 13.3 million followers and has become one of the most controversial foreign influencers in China’s short video history.

In more than 420 Douyin videos, which range in subject from praising China’s high-speed railways and digital payments systems, to enjoying hotpots and loudly declaring “I love China”, he has developed a distinct style mixing exaggerated expressions and actions.

His enthusiastic demonstration of affection for the country has been labelled as an “overactive hyperthyroidism-style love for China” by many people online.

On China’s National Day last year, October 1, he raised the Chinese national flag at his home, capturing the moment in a video and exclaiming: “Happy Birthday, People’s Republic of China!”

Such videos have earned him fame as well as lucrative advertising deals, promoting a public discourse that foreigners loving China can be a profitable venture.

Pamela Reif

Fitness guru Pamela Reif’s popularity has seen her gain more than 11 million followers. Photo: Baidu

German fitness influencer Pamela Reif enjoys global popularity, and she has also attracted a sizeable following in China.

On Bilibili, a prominent long-form video platform on the mainland, she was recognised as one of the Top 100 UP Masters in 2021.

Her workout videos, which blend dance, yoga, Pilates and equipment training, have earned her more than 11 million followers.

In 2023, she embarked on a tour of China, visiting cities including Changsha, Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou.

Reif delved into local cuisine and even infused traditional martial arts movements into her workout routines.

Danny Ray

Latvian influencer Danny Ray. has nearly 15 million followers, in large part due to his resemblance to the Hollywood actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo: Baidu

This actor from the Baltic state of Latvia, who boasts more than 14.8 million followers on Douyin, bears a striking resemblance to a young version of Hollywood superstar, Leonardo DiCaprio, earning him the playful moniker of the US actor’s “1990s version”.

Ray’s rise to fame began in 2022, primarily through his impression of the film character “Venom” which became a meme sensation.

In short videos, his unique blend of a Western look and fluent Chinese, occasionally using dialects, has endeared him to a vast number of people.

He is also a professional actor and has appeared in several films directed by renowned Chinese directors.

Notably, in 2023, he featured in Jackie Chan’s action-comedy Project P and he also portrayed a Latvian waiter in Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s film Cliff Walkers in 2021.

Aleks Kost

Ukraine native Aleks Kost has become a hit thanks to his dance moves and range of hairstyles. Photo: Aleks Kost Instagram/@alekskost31

This 29-year-old from Ukraine is renowned for his unique hairstyles and hand dance skills, earning him the title of Number One Hand Dancer on Douyin, where he has over 16.6 million followers.

He rose to prominence on the platform in 2018 after uploading a hand gesture dance video.

It earned him more than 3 million followers in just one week, prompting many people to imitate his style.

Kost is also adept at various dance styles, such as folk, ballet, Latin and modern.

Latest article