In 2019, Charli D’Amelio was a 15-year-old high-schooler living quietly with her parents in suburban Norwalk, Conn., while her older sister, Dixie, prepared to attend the University of Alabama.
Now, two years later, both Charli, 17, and Dixie, 20, are social media phenoms — Charli has more than 120 million followers on TikTok and Dixie has 52 million — and they’re starring in “The D’Amelio Show,” a new eight-episode Hulu reality series premiering Sept. 3.
It tracks Charli, Dixie and their parents Marc and Heidi — all of whom now live in LA — as the sisters pursue their supercharged social media careers (Dixie opted out of college), and everyone adjusts to life in the glaring spotlight.
Charli, who spoke to The Post along with her parents and sister, said it has not been an easy transition from being a relative unknown to appearing in a Super Bowl commercial and counting Jennifer Lopez as an enthusiastic fan.
“I think it’s a difficult adjustment to make,” she said. “When you’re going from being in high school and only having to worry about who your friends are, to now having people watch every minuscule mistake you make . . . I don’t think I’m the type of person who has the perfect personality for it.
“I’m a little bit more on the shy side, and I feel that’s definitely been one of the things I have to work on — especially when it comes to meeting people who support me.”
Charli was a competitive dancer when, as a lark, she made her first TikTok dance video from her bedroom in Norwalk in the summer of 2019 — then watched as the 15-second snippet exploded online.
Before long, she was on Time magazine’s “100 Next” list (Lopez wrote about her) and was an in-studio guest on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” teaching host Jimmy Fallon a few steps. (It was awkward.) Dixie, a singer, also jumped into the social media pool; she released a song on Spotify, “Be Happy,” that was streamed more than 70 million times and also posted TikTok videos. (Charli, along with Dixie, returned to “The Tonight Show” in March via Zoom during the pandemic.)
“People who we’ve grown up talking to, our friends, treat us and see us in the exact same way,” said Dixie. “And I think that’s what’s made this transition really normal. When people ask what’s it’s really like, we’re kind of living our normal lives — people sometimes ask for pictures and we do interviews — but it was such a transition time in our lives anyway. I was going to college, Charli was in high school … we were all settling down and we ramped our lives back up again but not in a negative way. It was a refresh; we didn’t even realize we needed that until we were in LA and living and doing all of this new stuff.”
Marc, who founded Madsoul Clothing, said he’s aware of the pitfalls of sudden stardom, particularly for younger people who are suddenly thrust into the spotlight.
“I think from a Dad perspective there’s always that fear that something could happen,” he said. “I’m 52 and I’ve seen a lot of people in the ’70s and ’80s come up through TV, young child stars, and more often than not things take a turn for the worse. I think the way we’re doing this as a family, and being there for each other, has made me a little bit less concerned — but I’m still keeping my eyes open and making sure, when I can, that we’re taking the right steps.”
Charli lost nearly 1 million followers in November 2020 when she posted a “Dinner With the D’Amelios” video to YouTube that showed Dixie gagging on snails prepared by private chef Aaron May and Charli asking for “Dino nuggets” instead. Dixie later apologized on TikTok and Charli urged her fans to “just be nice” in an Instagram Live interview.
Heidi, a photographer, said the family has “learned how to deal with it better” since her daughters became stars.
“I took every hate comment so personally for my kids and would get so upset by it,” said Heidi (who has 2.4 million followers on Instagram). “I don’t like it, and I try not to read [the comments] because it hurts me for them. But [Charli and Dixie] have actually helped Marc and I in a way by saying, ‘Mom, don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter.’ I’m trying to protect them and they’re trying to tell me, ‘Don’t let it get you down.’ “
In “The D’Amelio Show,” viewers will also see Dixie dealing with her anxiety.
“I don’t know if [stardom] intensified my anxiety. There’s just more things to worry about now,” she said. “My anxiety growing up was school and sports and staying on top of things . . . the anxiety of wanting everyone to like me. Now I’ve literally got the entire Internet commenting, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, this person doesn’t like me’ or ‘This person thinks I’m ugly.’ That constant worry was something I never had to deal with on such a huge scale and so fast. It was overwhelming.
“Over the past couple of months I’ve learned how to deal with it and to recognize that . . . these people don’t know who I am. We’d probably be friends. If they don’t want to give me the opportunity, then I can’t be upset about it.”