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At 85, Being a TikTok Star Makes This 'Seinfeld' Actor Very Happy

My fans give me passion and purpose and lots of laughs.

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photo collage of 3 iphones with tik tok screenshots of Annie Korzen
Ethel Staff
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Many scientific studies on happiness find that it comes not from wealth and celebrity but from spending time with people you love and who love you. Yes, I enjoy hanging out with friends and family — especially if there’s food and drink involved — but in my case, those scientists missed something.

Performers need applause to be happy. I am a storyteller, and I need to be lovingly appreciated for speaking my own words. I’ve done several solo theater pieces, and I’ve done countless storytelling shows, but the houses were never big enough to satisfy my ravenous ego.

My biggest claim to semi-fame was my recurring role on Seinfeld, portraying Doris Klompus, a neighbor of Jerry’s father’s in the Florida condo. I also did a second role on that show: an obnoxious passenger on an airplane. For some reason, obnoxious characters are my specialty. My roles here were not very significant, and I had very few lines, but any connection with that show is considered noteworthy — and after all these years I am still collecting residual checks.

Now, very late in life, I suddenly have a real claim to real fame — I am a TikTok star! A few years ago, it was my 29-year-old friend Mackenzie who helped make it happen. One day I told her I wished I could find a larger audience for my work, and she said, “You should be on TikTok.”

“Are you nuts?” I scoffed. “TikTok is about half-naked young girls shaking their booties. Why would anyone be interested in hearing what an old lady like me has to say?” “Trust me, you would blow up,” she said assuredly. “Blow up” is young-people-speak for “get a lot of attention.”

And so it began. I now have over 400,000 followers, and millions of views, from all over the world. I spend blissful hours scrolling through adoring comments like the below from all sorts of people, spanning teens to evangelical Christians to proud Zulus to a multi-generational LGBTQ community.

“Preach, Queen!” “You should run the world!” “Please come to Iceland!” “We love you in Scotland!” “We need your wisdom!” “You are iconic!” But the comment that moved me most was, “I do not understand why I relate so deeply to a Jewish-American woman in her 80s. I am a 16-year-old Afghan boy.” This brought tears to my eyes and confirmed my life-long suspicion that if I ran the world, we would finally achieve global peace.

When my young followers stop me on the street, I enjoy schmoozing with them, and I’m happy to take a selfie. I guess if I were a major celebrity, I might be more protective of my privacy, but I am a very minor celeb so — attention-whore that I am — I welcome the occasional meet-and-greet with an admiring fan.

Sometimes I ask these kids why they like me (my need for adulation knows no bounds), and they often say it’s because I’m so “authentic.” What exactly does that word mean?

I suspect it has to do with the fact that I am pretty blunt about saying what I think. I’ve always been pretty blunt, and I’ve often been criticized for it. How nice to finally be appreciated for what I was always told was a negative quality!

I can now feel free to rant about shallow fashionistas and husbands with irritating habits — like mine. Benni fills my small refrigerator with space-hogging duplicate items instead of just finishing the first one. This means my tiny shelves are crammed with two bottles of ginger ale, two jars of mayonnaise and two large containers of pickles.

I’m often asked how I find subjects to talk about in my posts. The answer is very simple: there’s only one subject that I am passionately interested in, and that’s ME! I do not write them down in advance, rehearse them or do more than one take. I simply record various details of my life, making this the perfect vocation for a narcissist like myself.

I talk about my son, my marriage, my thrift shop finds, my favorite movies and TV shows, my frequent frustrations and occasional triumphs. I share my preferred cocktails and two-ingredient recipes for people like me who love food but hate to cook. I try and keep things light and humorous, but once in a while, I get serious.

I did a TikTok where I shared my deep love for my adopted black grandson, Max. I get very emotional when I talk about his intelligence, his musicality and his humor, and that emotion provoked over a million views. I always just say whatever I want to say, and hope that it will touch a nerve in my audience.

There are other popular grannies on TikTok, and I am grateful for the new-found appreciation and respect for the wisdom of older women. It may be too little and too late, but it’s better than the big fat nothing that we’ve been getting for much too long.

Meanwhile, I’m having the time of my life. A reporter from The Washington Post called me recently to ask what I think about elderly politicians. Apparently, they see me as a spokesperson for feisty seniors. I was in heaven at the thought that this venerable publication considered me important enough to interview. I’ve always dreamed of being important. I’ve always dreamed of having a huge audience. I’m 85, and sometimes dreams do come true.

What dream of YOURS has come true later in life? Do let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Fulfillment
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