Eric Sedeño, photographed by Aaron Weiss

Eric Sedeño Speaks on TikTok Fame, Building a Platform, and Embracing Delusion

Granting us a tiny glimpse behind the curtain, content creator and artist Eric Sedeño dishes on life, pop culture, and the road ahead.

“My life has really changed so much because of silly videos on the internet.” Illustrator, content creator, and bob enthusiast Eric Sedeño has had a good run, and it’s only just beginning. We spoke with the New York-based creative the day he hit one million followers on TikTok, a huge milestone for anyone aiming to build a platform on social media. Under the handle ricotaquito, Sedeño’s “silly videos on the internet” are a refreshing source of joy, relatability, and positivity that taps into the importance of authenticity, community, and personal growth. Granting us a tiny glimpse behind the curtain, Sedeño dishes on life, pop culture, and his outlook for the year ahead.

Breaking Ground and Building a Platform

Over the past year, Sedeño walked through a number of doors from co-hosting TikTok’s In the Mix and attending Oscar-nominated movie premieres to charting new ground with candle company Groove and launching the Gay & Afraid podcast. With so many avenues to display his talent, charm, and contagiously radiant smile, choosing a lane seems like a challenge. However, it had to start somewhere: Sedeno kicked off his TikTok journey in 2020 not knowing what would grow from it. Nearly four years later, he admits that a part of the work is trekking into the unknown. “It’s hard to know what to do with your platform,”he says. “Even I’m like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m trying my best.’”

As the story goes, it all began with a bad breakup and, of course, the obligatory haircut.

Then came a mustache, renewed zest for working out, and finally, the decision to start making videos. “I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason,” Sedeño says. “So, even the bad stuff, if you can not focus on how awful you might feel, it’s an opportunity for something fresh to start. And that’s kind of how I looked at it.”

The use of TikTok skyrocketed during the pandemic, leading to seemingly nonstop trends from dance challenges to dalgona coffee. Underneath it all, however, was simply the desire to connect. “I really think that TikTok has been a real place for people to find new people and things,” says Sedeño, who believes the popular app played a role in creating a broader scope of representation. It allowed people to see themselves in others like never before and led to a greater understanding of self.

Though TikTok has had its fair share of controversy, such as suppressing content from marginalized groups to “combat bullying,” it’s still managed to serve as a source of inspiration and revelations against all odds. According to a study on TikTok’s influence on gender, sexuality, and the LGBTQ+ community, “…validation from any source can be difficult to find for LGBTQ+ individuals, especially for adolescents and offline. TikTok specifically, oftentimes used by younger generations, can fill that lack and provide that identity support for queer youth and young adults.”

“I always say TikTok allowed a window into myself I didn’t know I needed, and I think that if you can be authentic on camera—which can be hard for some people—that’s what people are chasing. They just want to find authenticity and see themselves in other people. And I hope that people see themselves in me, you know?”

Maintaining a Sunny Outlook

Navigating the social media landscape can be tricky, and being so incessantly connected comes with its own set of pros and cons. As the impact of apps like Instagram and TikTok on self-esteem in particular continues to come under scrutiny, the number of people aiming to build an online presence climbs. It takes courage to show up as yourself in the face of millions of eyes on the internet, so how can it be done in 2024? “I think delusion is a great tactic,” says Sedeño, who doesn’t see the glass as half-full, but “overflowing with water, no matter the situation.”

“Being grateful and excited for yourself is something that is so beautiful. You can get jaded by good things happening to you all the time, but you just have to remain grateful,” he says. “I’m like, ‘This is the best I’ve ever been in my whole life and I still get better every day.’ Even on my bad and my worst days, I’m still better than I was the day before.” He adds that his optimistic outlook doesn’t mean he’s immune to things getting under his skin: “When someone pisses me off, I’m like, ‘I choose joy, I’m not gonna engage.”

“Choosing joy has gotten me so much further than I could have expected.”

In the age of endless digital connections, Sedeño expresses that he’s grateful that he didn’t “pop off on the internet” at an extremely young age. It gave him time to learn about himself, and the person he wanted to become. “I think my love for myself only grows as I grow on the internet and grow up as an adult,” he explains. “That’s where the heart of everything is. I only just want people to be happy and I want to be a bright spot on the internet, and that’s been my goal. I think that’s part of my core, you know, that little authenticity and that little bright spot I hope to be.”

Credit: Aaron Weiss

Pop Cultural Moments to Remember

In December 2023, TikTok held In the Mix, its first-ever global music experience that was live-streamed for the world to see. Niall Horan, Cardi B, Charlie Puth, Anitta, and Peso Pluma made up the lineup, and the hosts were none other than content creators Drew Afualo and Eric Sedeño. It’s a fitting gig for the social media star, who credits Tiktok for altering how music reaches and affects people who may not have had the same opportunity otherwise. “I love to see people who honestly wouldn’t have the same opportunity on a different app win,” he says, citing Ice Spice and Aliyah’s Interlude. “That’s what TikTok’s kind of all about to me.”

@ricotaquito I GOT TO HOST TIKTOK IN THE MIX WITH DREW #TikTok_Partner #TikTokInTheMix ♬ original sound – Eric Sedeño

When asked about other memorable moments in pop culture from 2023, Sedeño mentions some other personal favorites:

A World of Pure Imagination

After a series of Willy Wonka-inspired TikToks and even dressing up as the eccentric chocolatier for Halloween, Sedeño’s bob took him all the way to London to attend the Wonka premiere. The experience even came with a surprise sighting of the film’s star, Timothee Chalamet. “They didn’t put him on the schedule because they didn’t know if he’d have time,” says Sedeño. “He specifically made time to come say hi to everyone and so, I just feel like he has a really good energy.”

Seeing Taylor Swift IRL

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift had a big year on the road, but made time for an unexpected appearance at the Poor Things premiere in New York, where Sedeño saw her in person. “My boyfriend was like, ‘That’s Taylor Swift,’ and I thought he was messing with me. I thought it was fake,” he says. “I never in my wildest dreams could think that I would be in a room with somebody [like her].” Though he wouldn’t call himself a Swiftie, Sedeño recognizes her impact, especially with her ongoing Eras Tour: “She’s so many people’s big star. That was a huge cultural moment, and I do love the sentiment of her music getting sold, then her taking it back and redoing all of her eras so she can own herself again.”

Beyoncé’s Renaissance

And we can’t forget the significance of Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour and subsequent film. Sedeño attended both events with his best friend, who lovingly warned him that “Beyoncé ruins concerts for you forever because nothing will ever live up to that much production.”

“I cried, like, half the movie. I didn’t expect to be so emotional,” he says. “That woman is so beautiful, it is insane. And her mind.” Although he says it’s hard to pick a favorite part of the film (understandable), he was able to call out a moment: “One of my favorite parts is when she’s talking about every time I go on tour, it’s like the bullshitters they try to work around me—they’ll tell me over and over and over we can’t do it and then, I will not give up until they’re like, ‘this bitch won’t give up!’”

“The amount of planning and everything is so calculated because how can she get a picture in the outfit, go on stage, perform, come back, change, get a picture … When the sound went down and she’s like, ‘Oh, we have forty-five seconds? Let’s change the outfit.’ I’m like, ‘What?!’ Like, I have forty-five seconds and I don’t do anything. (laughs)”

“Blue’s part made me so emotional, and getting to see her be a mom,” he continues. “One thing about Beyoncé is she’s the opposite of every other celebrity, where you don’t know anything about her. She doesn’t do interviews anymore, she doesn’t post anything other than her Renaissance outfits, you don’t see the behind-the-scenes, you don’t see much of her other than what she wants you to see. So, this was like a big opportunity to see more of her, and I really loved [it]. It’s so crazy you can feel so connected to someone you don’t know.”

Credit: Aaron Weiss

2024, A Word

From choosing joy to abundant self-love, Sedeño is a true example of the power of words and intentionality as a creative. “When you say things out loud and you believe them, the universe just accepts that.” But if it sounds better to call it a commitment to delusion, so be it. Just know that even delusion has to ground its roots somewhere substantial to make it real.

“We always do a word of the year,” the content creator says about his circle of friends. “My word this year was ‘consistency,’ and I wanted to show up for myself and show up for people, and really, really just be consistent in the way that I go after things.” According to Sedeño, striving to be more consistent in 2023 was a success, and the year was the most consistent to date in how he lived his life. “I really thought about consistency this year, and carried it with me. And I was like, “I have to show up for myself” ‘cause I get lazy and I know it.”

For 2024, he’s aiming to have a cup that’s overflowing. “I tried all these new things and I did all these new things and some things I loved, some things drained me, but I just want to go with whatever fills my cup and chase that,” he says. “Life’s about trying on new hats and then seeing what works for you.”

So, what does one million followers feel like? “I don’t feel any different,” Sedeño says. “I’m just really happy and I feel so blessed to be in the position I’m in. Every day is a gift.”

For more with Eric Sedeño:

Header: Eric Sedeño, photographed by Aaron Weiss
Eric Sedeño interview conducted by Jazi Pettie

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