TikTok star Chris Olsen was a 19-year-old battling alcoholism.
His friends and family held an intervention, sending him to rehabilitation – a process he has been open with in his videos. His candidness around mental health has garnered him a large following on social media.
“I got sober at 19 in Florida,” he said. “Rehab city over here.”
Olsen, now 25, said he has been sober for six years. That drew cheers of support from roughly 700 fans at the Marshall Student Center Ballroom on Tuesday for the University Lecture Series (ULS). He said it’s important for friends to hold each other accountable.
“It can literally be if they keep going back to a toxic guy,” he said. “I had to tell a friend, ‘I will not speak with you about this man, I love you so much, but you are repeating a cycle and I am not gonna put myself in that position.'”
Prior to Olsen’s entrance, information on mental health resources on campus were projected on slides. This included TimelyCare, USF Student Outreach and Support, USF’s Counseling Center and a suicide and crisis help line.
Olsen’s ULS was the first lecture since CAB reduced the number of events from two to one a semester in order to improve attendance. Olsen was paid $50,000 for the event, according to Hannah Sutherland, student programs coordinator for the Center for Student Involvement.
Besides his TikToks, Olsen also worked on music videos for singer Meghan Trainor’s “Made You Look” and Renee Rapp’s “Too Well.” He has also been featured in “The Book of Queer,” a five-part Discovery+ series highlighting LGBTQ+ historical figures.
His friendship with Trainor is prominently featured on his TikTok. Trainor’s top hits, such as “All About That Bass,” “Lips Are Movin” and “No,” played through the speakers before the lecture started.
Olsen said Trainor is more than just a friend to him – she’s a “mentor.”
“We have been able to teach each other things about being in the industry,” Olsen said. “She has been amazing and introduced me to so many amazing people. Everytime I met someone who I idolized, I learned something from them.”
Trainor was the first celebrity he brought coffee to in one of his famous TikTok bits where he takes a flight to hand-deliver coffee to a famous person. The trend became popular on the platform, and Olsen has delivered coffee to people such as actor Austin Butler and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The “Bring them coffee” trend inspired his own coffee brand “Flight Fuel.”
Olsen gained his 12.1 million following by recording his therapy sessions in a comedic way.
“It was a very light idea in my head, but it grew to become something way deeper than I expected in a really good way,” he said.
Olsen said he hopes to lighten the burden associated with seeking mental health treatments or going to therapy.
His biggest tip for stress management is knowing when to put your phone down and stop scrolling. Olsen said he sometimes struggles with sitting by himself without scrolling online.
His free time and online presence during the pandemic in 2020 contributed to his success. He said he regularly posted five times a day for three months straight at that time.
However, he said he was creatively stunted during the pandemic since his schooling for musical theater came to a halt.
“It was hard to continue leaning into the creative field,” he said. “So having this vehicle, like TikTok, really helped me be artistic and lean into the creative side while school was shut down.”
Olsen said he regrets how easily he was ready to give up on his dreams as a student after professors told him how competitive his field would be. With this in mind, the TikToker left USF students with advice that would have helped him.
“Such a cliché line, but don’t let your dreams die. Because there is a little kid in each of us that want to do what we dream of doing,” Olsen said