No longer just an app for Gen Z, TikTok has been taken over by Hollywood stars like Selena Gomez and Jessica Chastain. Another such high-profile star who recently got on board with the app? Actor and model Brooke Shields.
With the help of her two teen daughters, Rowan and Grier, Shields launched her TikTok page in August (it already has over 2.6 million likes and counting). But Shields tells Vogue she’s hardly a TikTok pro—yet. “I’m still afraid to touch anything,” says Shields. “If I do, all of a sudden, I’m live. [My daughters] are like, ‘mom, don’t touch anything. Don’t touch any buttons.’”
Shields actually went viral on TikTok well before launching her own profile. In May last year, she made a cameo on her daughter Rowan’s page, when Rowan struck her in the face with a purse as part of a TikTok trend. “She really got me, but she felt bad,” says Shields. Her first TikTok on her own page—the “questions I get frequently asked” trend—has over 12 million likes, where she was asked things like “Are your eyebrows real?” and “Do you still fit into your Calvin’s?” (Her answers? “Nope, stickers!” and “nope, they’re too big on me.”)
It’s now her mission to master the app on her own. “I lost half of my Tiktok team: [My eldest daughter] is in college, so I have to rely on my 15 year old now,” says Shields. “But she’s a little harder to nail down. She doesn’t seem very interested in managing my career.”
Below, Shields talks with Vogue about her favorite TikTok trends, what she’s learned from her daughters, and what big idea she’ll tackle next.
What made you want to get on TikTok?
Throughout the pandemic, my girls kept asking me to do [TikToks] with them. They usually don’t want their mother doing anything with them, but when it’s something fun, like a TikTok or a dance, it ends up being a bit of a bonding experience. They might be wanting me to dance with them to make fun of me, but it’s time together. We did one and my daughter said to me, “I don’t know how you were ever on Broadway.” My older daughter then set up a TikTok for me. I have to say, I rely on them a lot.
How much time do you spend on TikTok?
I’ll start watching TikToks, and three hours have gone by. On one hand, it could be sort of meditative, but on the other hand, I’ll realize I haven’t done anything that I needed to do because I got sucked down the rabbit hole.
How do you come up with your TikTok ideas?
I ask my daughters. I can look at [a trend] and see that it has a lot of likes, but I use them as a scale. There’s a balance you need to do. I’m not trying to be super young and über cool—I’m just trying to have fun. They’ll take the phone away from me and say, ‘do this,’ and then somehow edit it together. I’m still trying to learn all of it. My TikToks have to have a purpose. It’s either something pertinent to what’s going on in my life at that time, or something just super funny, or something celebrating something else. I’m not one just to try to get attention.
You went viral when your daughter smacked you with a purse.
I love physical comedy. To me, that is my absolute happy place. When I was on Suddenly Susan, I was always falling down or getting smacked in the face with something. I don’t mind looking stupid; I love it. It’s also hard to trick me or surprise me. I’ll see an expression on someone’s face and I know something’s up. I had no idea she was filming, which is a huge feat, because I can see a camera a mile away. And she hit me so hard! She had forgotten that she had sunscreen in her bag, and she clipped me in the face. I was so stunned. She then showed me the trend of people hitting each other over the head with grocery bags. She really got me, but she felt bad!
How do you think your career would be different if you had TikTok at the beginning of it?
I appreciate that it’s about self-expression. It can be a wonderful platform that’s dictated by the person doing it. But when I was young, I was a rule-follower. I don’t think I would have been able to take advantage of it with my personality. I would have asked for permission to do certain things. I still check things through my social media team and ask, am I going to get cancelled for this?
You are known for your classic style. Would you ever do a closet tour, which is big on TikTok?
I would, but it would have to not be self-serving. I could see doing a TikTok of all my archival stuff—that has pertinence to it. To just to go in and say, ‘Oh, look at this purse that I have, and look how fabulous this is,’ that’s not interesting to me. But if there’s a throwback thing, or something that’s coming back in style, I would do it.
TikTok aside, what do you have coming up next?
I’m starting publicity for a Netflix movie that I did, which is coming out during the holiday season. I did that during the pandemic, which was incredible. I went away to Scotland for two and a half months, and we just created this little bubble of a world. It’s a fun, romantic comedy.
Any future TikTok ideas you want to tackle?
I’ve definitely challenged myself to find some dance that is a little bit more involved, and to really learn it. I just want to prove to myself that I can do it. I would love to be able to master one.
Are there any TikTok stars you’d want to collaborate with?
I actually just called IMG and asked for a list of young and new [TikTok creators]. I love the idea of cross-generational content. A lot of the stuff that I’ve done in the 1980s is coming back in style now! So we’re setting that up right now.