Accidental Influencer: How a local teacher ‘Finds His Joy’ and millions of followers on TikTok
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As the pandemic set in during the spring of 2020, Greg Kata never thought dabbling with a TikTok account would go viral, but within months, the theater major turned teacher found a following he’d never expect.
“This was never part of the plan I mean; I didn’t even think I would get like a follower let alone 2.1 million,” Kata said.
His account, dubbed @gregisms, has millions of people tuning in to hear his musings. Whether it’s a tale from the classroom, where he teaches theater or something he overheard at the drug store or post office, his posts regularly rack up hundreds of thousands of views.
“If you cut out the voices in your head and listen to the voices that are actually around you there is some funny stuff going on and you know it’s not like I go into stores and I’m like you know recording or like go hiding out. I go for my milk and someone’s on the phone like I just kind of tune in a little bit and I’m like okay, ‘Yep!’ that’s going in a video,” Kata said.
It didn’t all start out that easy though, at first, he tried skits and costumes to get some laughs, but he quickly realized people just wanted to hear what he has to say.
“I definitely was not talking about myself in the beginning. When I started to talk about myself, I got a lot of response from it and I was like, ‘I think people are interested in just my everyday life,’ which is still to this day surprising,” Kata said.
Now he’s using the interest in what he has to say to help give back by raising money for local artists and turning his home into a house float in the neighborhood.
Last year he raised $15,000 to put together a “Purple, Green, and Golden Girls” house, and this year his followers helped raise $20,000 to pay local artists to create his Willy Wonka Extravaganza.
“The whole point of it was to support the artists that were affected. You know without the parades and all that and the parades are rolling this year, but you know they still are making up from the fact of jazz fest was canceled last year and Mardi Gras and all of the festivals that they work on,” Kata said.
Because of his reach, he’s able to make a decent amount of money from his account, by selling merchandise and hosting some sponsored content, but he’s not ready to leave teaching to become a full-time influencer.
“I don’t know if I could do this full time even though I could financially afford to I just don’t think I could get through the day without laughing every day having to say that word, [influencer],” Kata said.
Whether he likes the word or not, he is influencing people and getting messages from followers, some who are dealing with depression or cancer who tell him his posts help them find their own joy.
“It’s almost like a responsibility in a sense. Not that I feel like I must bring the joy to all of the world. But it’s making sure that that I take it seriously still, even though I don’t take it seriously at all, but it’s a fine line of like I don’t take myself too seriously. Again, I call myself the Accidental Influencer. This was not part of the plan. I can’t use the word influencer without like throwing up a little bit in my mouth because I’m over 40, like what you know? But yeah, just knowing that somebody somewhere is watching my stuff and it’s making their day better, it feels it feels amazing,” Kata said.
Kata plans to keep teaching and keep sharing his thoughts with his millions of followers on TikTok.
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