Rickey Thompson is apparently sliding into your DMs. If you appear to apperceive any of the viral celeb’s 1.6 actor Instagram followers, affairs are they’ve hit up your inbox with one of his amusing videos, which see the bendy 22-year-old accomplishing aggregate from twerking at a McDonald’s bag to practicing auto curve with a abode plant. His bio says he’s “just actuality to accomplish you laugh,” and Thompson has done that and again some, acquiescent him affectionate admirers beyond assorted platforms, like the dearly ancient Vine, area his antics aboriginal took off in 2013.
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But Thompson wasn’t consistently affected his baroque voice. In fact, it took him a while to acquisition it. “When I was younger, I was the shyest kid ever,” he says. His accomplished is apparently allotment of the acumen he was abashed aback the Vines he acquaint in aerial academy sparked such a brusque admirers response. “All of a sudden, I started accepting a lot of absorption for my videos,” he says, acquainted that as a Christian from North Carolina, with acutely absurd dreams of breaking into showbiz, he enjoyed a artifice aberration fit for a boyhood movie. “I was an underdog kid, and then, in my chief year of aerial school, I was the best accepted thing,” he says.
Galvanized by this popularity, Thompson focused on authoritative his dreams possible, ambience his architect on Los Angeles. Aloof a day afore enrolling in an apprentice program, a aisle his parents lined up for him, Thompson had an abrupt, adverse acknowledgment and bankrupt the account to his family. “I was like, ‘This is not me; this is not what I appetite to do,’” he says. Instead, Thompson connected advocacy his attendance on addition platform, YouTube, and headed west — which, as he expected, gave him a blow of energy. “L.A. is this accomplished altered arena area you can be yourself and dress how you wanna dress,” he says. “And everybody’s out actuality aggravating to succeed, hunt goals, and be the aing big thing.”
But, for Thompson, afterwards a year of asserting his independence, the City of Angels showed its demons — in his case, affected friends. “When you alpha to feel out L.A. a little bit more, you see people’s intentions,” he says. “People will blend about and backstab you — do you bedraggled aloof to get to the top. It’s ugly. I was not aloft that way.” But Thompson has a best acquaintance in adolescent YouTuber Denzel Dion, who helps him break ashore — and on brand. At one point, Thompson veered from his brand ball and approved his duke at appearance videos, but Denzel steered him back. “He told me, ‘Rickey, this is not for you,’” Thompson says. “‘I’m gonna be real. I’m so sorry, but attending at the views.’”
We all charge to apperceive our strengths, and while Thompson may not be your antecedent for apparel tutorials, back affective to the West Coast, he has apparent his theatricality pay off. A bit of his dream to act was accomplished aback he nabbed the role of Dakota on the cheekily called YouTube alternation Foursome, about a accumulation of accompany who advice to get advance appearance Andie laid. As for Thompson’s own animal awakening, aback it came to administration it with the world, he was accurate to form. “I came out on Twitter,” he says. “In 2016. But I didn’t plan it well. I would never accept anticipation my ancestors would acquisition out, but my dad’s a barber, and one of his barter came in and was, like, ‘Congrats on your son.’ And he was, like, ‘What do you mean?’”
Thompson’s ancestors didn’t adulation the appearance of his revelation, but they’re still allotment of his abutment network, which helps to ammunition Thompson’s ambitions. “I’m not gonna accord up, because I accept so abounding bodies who are watching me today, and these are bodies who are activity through article as well,” he says. “I can never accord up on that. A lot of bodies aren’t admiring of gays, and a lot of bodies don’t accept what this atramentous boy from North Carolina has. So I’m never gonna authority my tongue.”
Photography by Danielle Levitt
Styling by Grant Woolhead
Market Editor Michael Cook
Grooming by Mel Daniels
Set Design by Shelley Burgon
Produced by Stephanie Porto
(Opening Image: All accouterment by Dries Van Noten.)
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