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Beyond TikTok with Sayoni Thenuwara

By Mahika Panditha

I feel like scrolling through TikTok has become a staple in almost everyone’s day, and I am sure you have come across one of Sri Lanka’s TikTok stars – Sayoni Thenuwara. She just turned 20 years old and is currently studying CIM, tutoring, and is, of course, creating content on TikTok – not only for herself but also for other businesses! If you did not know, she is also a dog person and loves meeting new people. I don’t want to give too much away, so without further ado, check out our chat with Sayoni!

Tell us about TikTok. How did you start out on the platform?

I started TikTok initially when it was musically. For the love of dance, I posted TikTok videos just as a means of entertainment, and it gained a following that was highly unexpected.

How did you feel about your growth on the platform?

So thrilled and honestly shocked because I didn’t expect any of this. I was just doing what I love, and to see that other people enjoy seeing that definitely makes me motivated to keep it going and create more content! It’s because of this platform that I’ve been able to meet so many different types of amazing people, whom I’ve learnt a lot from on a daily basis and I’ve also got extremely close to. So I’m grateful.

What would you say has been your biggest lesson thus far in terms of gaining traction on the platform? Any advice you have for upcoming content creators?

TikTok is a very unpredictable platform; the app itself has been growing immensely to 732 million users and more than 14 million new users per day, which makes it very challenging to stay ahead of the curve. There may be times where you put in so much effort and time into one video, but you feel like it didn’t gain the expected reach.
My advice to anyone who wants to pursue TikTok is as long as you’re passionate about what you do – whether it’s dancing, acting, comedy, etc. – do it for yourself in the best possible manner and don’t let anything hold you back from that. The only person you need to impress is yourself. There are a lot of people out there who may put you down and judge you, but as long as you’re content, that’s all that matters. At the same time, it’s so important to engage with your audience and appreciate them as they are your biggest supporters!

What is your creating process like?

Firstly, I identify a trend/track that I believe suits my vibe and then incorporate my own twist to it to differentiate myself from other creators. Depending on that, the number of takes would differ, but since I’m a perfectionist, I end up having countless drafts. Sometimes I require an extra hand to do the recording process, but it definitely takes a lot of patience and time.

What is something about creating on TikTok that watchers would not know?

I believe that many viewers don’t understand the effort and time creators put into each TikTok, trying to perfect it to look like the best version of themselves. I think many people have a misconception that since it’s like a eight-to-15-second video, there’s very minimal effort put into it. However, it’s not as easy as social media portrays it to be, as you have to focus on every minor detail.

Aside from TikTok, what do you enjoy doing?

I love spending time with my friends and family. I can’t explain how important it is to take some time off social media and just explore the real world. As a dancer, despite the progress I have made over the years, I know that there’s so much more to learn, which is why I take up different styles of dancing to enhance my skills. I also love playing football or futsal and any other outdoor activities! I spend a lot of my time trying to help people with open arms and share knowledge that I’ve previously received in whatever way possible. I also try to support local small businesses as much as possible, as it’s a difficult time for everyone. Lastly, how could I forget my two angels, Max and Theo? I give them way too much love and affection, but they deserve it.

How do you balance work with your personal life?

When it comes to maintaining a balance between work and personal life, I usually allocate a specific time for each activity and set reminders in order to be efficient towards my work ethic. It’s often easy to get distracted and procrastinate, but it’s all part of the learning process, and the only way to get past that is by prioritising what’s important.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Five years down the line, I see myself going to Australia and enhancing my qualifications and skills to achieve my ultimate goal. When I put my mind into something, I make it my utmost priority to achieve it. I am always up to learn new things in order to perfect my craft. For me, learning isn’t only intellectual but also the ability to enhance who you are as a person, as I believe that there’s so much more to living than just solely your work.

PHOTOS © RANJI BANJI, ANUREIN GOMEZ