A fifteen-year-old TikTok creator, whose dance was appropriated and solemnly performed by Addison Rae on the Tonight Show, starring Jimmy Fallon, has finally opened “Up” on the viral debacle.
Mya Johnson, who created the “Up” challenge with her friend Chris Cotter in February, told TMZ she was initially excited to see something she created – which currently has over eight million likes on TikTok – make it all the way to television. However, her joy was short-lived when she saw Rae performing her dance and realized it should have been her and Cotter performing the dance they choreographed.
“I was shocked, and I was really happy ’cause it’s like my challenge made it all the way to TV, which is like—that’s crazy,” Johnson said. “But then as I started to think, I was like dang, I wish that could’ve been me and Chris performing our own challenge at his show.”
Still, Johnson said she had no ill feelings against Rae. “Just to clear the air, it’s not nothing much against each other. So I would still be open to do those types of different things. We’re still teenagers.”
She believes that something needs to be done to protect Black content creators so they do not get their work stolen on platforms like TikTok.
She told POPSUGAR, “This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I don’t want it to continue. I feel like it is very important for us to get our credit because we are very good creators that are very overlooked in what we do.”
Addison Rae issued a lukewarm apology that indicated she’s sorry for the backlash she got, but not for the performance and stealing the spotlight from the originators of the dancers she impersonated in the Tonight Show segment. For their part, too, the people at Tonight Show did go back and give proper credit to the creators in the segment’s YouTube version. But, it was already too little too late for some like Johnson’s mother, Candice Rangel.
Rangel was not impressed with Rae’s apology, which she felt lacked sincerity.
She told TMZ, “I felt like it was not as genuine, but I definitely don’t feel that her going through this whole situation, I don’t think that she had any bad intent.”
Johnson said she is still going to create dance challenges on TikTok. She has been doing so since the platform was introduced as Musical.ly. She has amassed over 600K followers, including several celebrities, like rapper Cardi B., whose song “Up,” the same title’s dance is choreographed to.