Marc D’Amelio is the father of 15-year-old Charli D’Amelio and 18-year-old Dixie D’Amelio, two sisters from Norwalk, Connecticut who rose to fame on the app Tik Tok last year and amassed several million followers each. Marc is a University of Connecticut alum and frequents campus for basketball games and visits. Shortly after his daughters went viral, Marc made a Tik Tok account of his own and garnered a large and ever-growing fan base of his own: People now refer to him as the “Dad of Tik Tok” and the “CEO of the D’Amelio Family.” Taylor Harton sat down with Marc and his wife Heidi to discuss his experiences at UConn and dealing with newfound internet fame.
Taylor Harton: What kind of activities were you involved in when you were at UConn?
Marc D’Amelio: I graduated from UConn in 1991. I worked at Huskies [Bar] where I was a DJ, I lived in Towers and was in Sigma Phi Epsilon (our fraternity house was on Gilbert Road). I transferred; I was up here for three years. I was a political science major.
TH: Tell me a little bit about your job now. I know you work at Level Four Showroom in New York City. Tell me about your gig there and how you got to that point.
MD: We [Level Four] are what is called a manufacturer’s repping agency- we are a sales arm for different clothing companies but we work independently. So different companies hire my company to bring them to retail, so we’re not really a distributor, we’re more of a middle man. We represent Mitchell & Ness, we used to represent Adidas and we represent Umbro [a soccer brand] in the United States. We display all licensed sports stuff- so anything from major league baseball to NBA.
TH: Talk to us about Tik Tok and being a “Tik Tok Dad.” Like Charli said in one of her interviews, you seem to have your own fan base who is not interested in what they [Charli and Dixie] are doing, but solely interested in you. What is that like for you?
MD: It’s a lot of fun. It’s a balance because you don’t want to be a dad on there who is doing exactly the same thing as a bunch of kids are doing, but I originally got on it because Charli started to get popular and I was watching it and noticing positive and negative comments. It started to take off for me, Heidi and Dixie. It’s definitely a younger app, but we have a lot of fun with it and I don’t take it too seriously.
TH: How do you deal with people on Tik Tok who are mean or creepy, especially with Charli and Dixie? How do you respond to that and put up with it?
MD: It took us a while to block out the negativity. We’ve talked to a lot of people who have had not only long-term notoriety but also instant fame who have been trained to know it’s part of the job. We turn the other cheek on [hate] now. We take the [threatening and creepy comments] more seriously and we have had to go down the road of getting the authorities involved. For the most part, the comments are 90% positive and 10% negative.
TH: On having two young daughters in this kind of industry- how do you protect them but also let them have their freedom?
MD: We step in as parents whether it is, for example, the situation with the Renegade dance, where we said, “Look, let’s not hide from this. Let’s meet Jalaiah [the creator of the Renegade dance] and her family.” We’ve lived life so we get involved when we have to. We also put a team around us immediately. The kids have a wonderful manager, we signed with United Talent Agency and we have an entertainment attorney who is one of the best attorneys in Beverly Hills. So it’s not just us trying to navigate to the next step- we have a great group around us.
Heidi D’Amelio: Before this Tik Tok stuff happened, the girls already knew the boundaries. They would ask us, even as high schoolers, “Is this okay to post? What do you think about this?” They would always come to us and we always respected that they would do that, so we work together. We let them have their time and freedom to figure it out but we are not far away.
TH: What does the future look like for you guys? I know you are currently cycling between here [Connecticut] and California. Is there a plan for where to go from here? Are the girls still in school?
MD: As far as school goes: Both of them were attending King School in Stamford. Dixie already had enough credits to graduate, so the school basically said, “Do your thing.” She was accepted and is ready to go to the University of Alabama. Charli is in a program in conjunction with her school, and it’s somewhat of an online curriculum but she also talks directly with her teachers through FaceTime.
HD: Especially when [Charli] was in California for two weeks straight, we built her working schedule around school and blocked off those times. She’s getting through so much faster because she’s not sitting in class. She enjoys school.
MD: There’s no turning back as far as the notoriety. For us, it’s not about the money. It’s about happiness and being able to make an impact in the world and in my kids’ lives. We’re just very cautious on how fame could affect us negatively and that’s all we think about: How does it affect our family of four? It’s brought us even closer as a family and brought us to a point where we can really depend on each other and look out for each other. But we’re just taking it day by day; there’s so many cool opportunities.
TH: What are your favorite things about this university? Now and when you were here?
MD: I love where UConn has come from. Going to UConn [at my time] wasn’t negative, but you kinda had a reason to go. Mine was that I couldn’t afford Syracuse, so I came to UConn. And I’ve seen it gone from a safety school when I was in high school and now it’s not that anymore. I love the fact that I’ve seen [UConn] grow from this small university in Storrs to just walking around on campus now – it’s amazing. You can take that UConn name to any corner of the United States and they know us.
TH: Do you guys have any additional information you want to tell us?
MD: For me, we’ve gotten calls from CNN, The Wall Street Journal… This [interview] was the one that I wanted to do. We passed on The Wall Street Journal for The Daily Campus – and that just brings it back to UConn.
Thumbnail Image Courtesy of Marc D’Amelio
Taylor Harton is the associate news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.