A Harvard University student is trending on TikTok after she posted a video of herself singing songs that sounded like they were straight out of a Disney musical.
Julia Riew, 22, of Missouri, said she started writing musicals at age 15. She said she took a gap year during the pandemic to work on Shim Chong, writing the entire screen play and producing 23 full tracks to go with it.
“After I finished my first full track, I downloaded TikTok, made a video, and then I posted it,” Riew said. The next day, she had 10,000 followers.
Riew takes a unique approach to filming her videos. Before starting each song, she uses a Snapchat filter to transform her face into an animated character. She said this helps her connect with her Korean heritage.
“That story really spoke to me in particular because of this journey of Shim Chong hoping to reconnect with her family… and return home,” Riew said.
That personal connection Riew found seemed to resonate with millions across the world. Her viral TikTok video has been viewed one million times on the platform.
Since first posting her viral video on TikTok back in January, she has created another original musical, this one inspired by her favorite Korean grocery store in Cambridge — H Mart.
Riew said her goal is for her animated character, Shim Chong, to one day make it to the animated big screen.
“My dream is to help contribute to a movement of cultural appreciation in media, theater, film, music; all those different art forms,” Riew said.