Sign up for our weekly newsletter
Framework - Power Up

TikTok Star GK Barry Chats Pryzm, Forbes and Studying at Nottingham Trent University

15 September 21 interview: Lilith Hudson

TikTok sensation Grace Keeling - better known by her nom de guerre, GK Barry - has come a long way since starting out as a fresh-faced film student at NTU three years ago. We catch up with TikTok’s queen of comedy to talk about her career as a content creator, cancel culture, and how her appearance in a different magazine tops this one… *cries*

How has your experience been as a student in Notts? 
I remember being seriously scared before I went to uni; I was really shy! As soon as I came to Nottingham, I don’t know what happened, but I was just so social. Uni really boosted my confidence. I loved it. 

Have you got a favourite memory from your degree?
It probably has to be from first year when my course went on a trip. They took us to the sticks - I mean literally the middle of nowhere - and made us sleep on rock-hard bunk beds, but at the end of it we were dropped off at this pub. Naturally, we all got very drunk. It was incredible. I had like two friends when I went there and I came back mates with everyone. 

Where would someone be most likely to find you on a Friday night?
This is a difficult one because at one point I was a proper Pryzm rat. I would live, breathe, and dance Pryzm. But now I feel like I’m more of a cocktail girl. I think you’ll probably find me somewhere like Pepper Rocks. Any cocktail place to be honest! 

Tell us about your rise to fame on TikTok. How did it change student life for you? 
It was all very quick. I started TikTok in the first lockdown and by that August I’d reached 100k followers. By the time I’d had the app for around a year, I’d reached a million. I’d say the only thing that’s changed is that a lot more people recognise me on nights out, which is really fun. It’s like having an extra group of mates on your night out! 

Have you faced any challenges entering the public eye so quickly?
Well, I’m someone who has a tendency not to think before they speak and this has proved problematic a fair few times. Nowadays cancel culture is a big thing, so I have to be careful not to get cancelled. I definitely have to think a lot more about the things I say. At the end of the day I don’t want to cause any upset, I want to make people laugh. In this industry you have to remain so neutral, so that has really been a learning curve for me.

Forbes magazine are writing an article about me! I’m so uneducated that I didn’t even know what Forbes was and my mum was like, ‘Are you sure you have that right?’

Why “GK Barry”?
Basically, I didn’t want anyone to find me on TikTok so I used my initials and my best friend’s second name, Barry, and merged the two.

Was it difficult juggling your new responsibilities during your final year of uni? 
I prioritised TikTok over my uni work in my final year and I learned my lesson from that. Everyone else can learn this from me too… It got to the last two weeks of final term and I’d done nothing towards my assessments. It dawned on me. I was like, ‘I’m supposed to get a degree and I’ve barely done anything.’ So yeah, I had a bit of a meltdown, it was very stressful. I managed it, but I feel like I definitely could have earned a better grade - maybe - if I focussed on my education a bit more. 

What’s been the highlight of your career as a TikToker?
Forbes magazine are writing an article about me! I’m so uneducated that I didn’t even know what Forbes was and my mum was like, ‘Are you sure you have that right?’ I’ve also met some really cool people. The biggest people I’ve met in person are the Love Island lot, but there are two people I’ve spoken with online which were real ‘Oh my God’ moments. Those were Daisy May Cooper from This Country and Amelia, the girl from Chicken Shop Date. They’re two really funny and famous people and when they reached out to me I was like, ‘You know who I am?!’ 

Any tips for someone hoping to grow their online platform? 
Firstly, don’t go in caring about what people you know are going to think, otherwise you might as well not bother. They’re probably going to have a negative opinion when you first start out. Number two: post loads. Post like three times a day. The more people are seeing you, the more likely they’ll think, ‘I’m going to look at this person’s profile. They’re everywhere.’ My third tip would be to follow trends. Things go viral on TikTok all the time. If something is viral, hop on that. Even if it’s not your thing, you’re getting the views and you’ve gained more followers. Now you can show more people what you actually want them to see. 

Three words of advice for Freshers. Go.  
Sleep when dead.


We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now

You might like this too...

Arboretum Beer Festival

You might like this too...