There are many sides to Lakeisha Marie, and thousands of social media viewers are watching them unfold during her rise to TikTok stardom.
Marie, who is Plains Cree and lives on Okanagan Indian Band land near Vernon, was a participant in the TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators program, which returned for its second year in 2022. Presented by the National Screen Institute, the online training program offers guidance from some of the social media platform’s leading Indigenous creators to empower the selected storytellers on the platform and beyond.
Marie, 21, was one of 40 creators representing every province and territory in Canada selected to participate in last year’s Accelerator.
“I was pretty honoured,” Marie said, recalling her reaction to being selected for the program.
Having started out with just 25 followers, made up entirely of friends and family, Marie’s TikTok account has since exploded to more than 178,000 followers, many of which she says came after her involvement in the Accelerator program.
Her Indigenous heritage drives a lot of the content she creates, whether she’s creating a comedic video or a more serious video.
“A lot of my videos centre around being Indigenous, whether that be comedy, every now and then I do like to touch on more serious topics, and I like to kind of present them in a way that really makes you feel something, whether that be sad, happy or I suppose just any feeling really,” she said.
An example of a more serious video came on May 5, National Day of Awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.
“As the video progresses you can see me getting smaller and the red handprints behind me getting bigger, to really emphasize how much of a problem this is,” she said.
@lakeeyshamarie May 5th is a day of action and awareness for MMIWG2.#may5th#mmiwawareness#mmiw#mmiwg2s#mmiwcanada#mmiw ♬ Original sound - Luna
On the lighter side, Marie enjoys sharing her old style fancy dance with viewers. She does the dance without the traditional shawl, making it her own.
“On the powwow trail there’s different categories of dance and mine is an older style of the more contemporary style,” she said.
@lakeeyshamarie Little me would be so proud #powwow#powwowdancer#fancydancer#womensfancyshawl#powwowtok#powwowdance ♬ Trumpet Echo - Ashtonic_
Marie has always had a knack for performing in front of people.
“Growing up I was always a bit of a theatrical kid. I used to make little Facebook videos before YouTube was really a big thing, and my cousin actually was the one that pushed me into getting into TikTok,” she said. “When I saw that people were actually making content and it wasn’t just lip syncing songs I was like ‘this sounds cool, this sounds like it’s for me.’”
Marie says the Accelerator program taught her about moderators and how to make her TikTok a safe space free of negative words, even when going live.
Getting guidance from fellow Indigenous creator Sherry McKay, who founded the Accelerator, was a highlight for Marie.
“Sherry McKay was one of the people I looked up to when it came to making funny content, and when I applied to this I actually did not know that it was founded by her, so when I found out that I would be able to speak with her and be in her presence I was like oh my goodness! She shared a lot of her experiences with me,” Marie said.