HERO 30 cover story: TikTok megastar Noah Beck is evolving past the small screen
21 September 2023
Photographer Fabien Kruszelnicki

clothing and accessories by BALMAIN FW23

Noah Beck’s rise has been monumental. What began in 2020 with a nine-second TikTok of him lip-syncing X-rated DaBaby lyrics from Megan Thee Stallion’s Cash Shit in his bedroom has seen him transform from a college student with pro soccer dreams (Beck was a NCAA Division-1 soccer player at the University of Portland) to one of the most popular social media presences in the world. 

But his ambitions are set far beyond the app. Now a recognisable face at Cannes Film Festival and Paris Fashion Week, Beck’s a FROW regular – notably at Olivier Rousteing’s Balmain, worn exclusively in this shoot. He’s also set to produce and star in a feature film, The QB Bad Boy and Me. A chance meeting with playwright and novelist Jeremy O. Harris at dinner kick-started a nurturing and enduring friendship, nourished by mutual intrigue and a shared passion for having an actual conversation. 

clothing and accessories by BALMAIN FW23

Jeremy O. Harris: How are you?! It’s so good to see your face.
Noah Beck: I’m good, are you in Europe right now?

JOH: I’m going on a boat in Croatia on Saturday, you’re more than welcome to come. I think there’s an empty bed.
NB: That sounds lovely. Where are you guys going?

JOH: I’m going to Split then I’m just going to travel around, I’ve never been before. But you seem like you know these places, you’re one of the most well-travelled people I know. 
NB: I had never travelled before all of this. I visited Croatia last summer for a little while, I had some spare time and my buddy and I were like, “Let’s go to Croatia.” I didn’t know anything about it, but I had a blast, it was so fun. 

JOH: As someone who hadn’t really travelled before either, I get really emotional sometimes when I get to go on a cool trip. You have a YouTube series where you video everything you’re doing, what has been the most impactful trip for you? Which one do you think about most as a place you’ll never forget, that you want to go back to? 
NB: If you’d asked me after my first time in Paris I would have said, “That was the greatest trip of all time,” but now due to fashion I’m in Paris quite often. 

JOH: You’re like, “Paris is over, it’s lame, it’s regular now.” [laughs] 
NB: That place will never get old to me! But in my head, it’s not ‘once in a lifetime’ anymore, because it’s a recurring thing. My first time in Paris was one of my favourite trips still to this day, despite going there so much since. I went to Saint-Tropez too, that was pretty surreal. 

clothing and accessories by BALMAIN FW23

“In the next five years, I think there may be a return to what was my first and true love: soccer. That door might not be closed.”

JOH: I’m currently at Festival d’Avignon which is like the Cannes of theatre festivals, I’ve never done it before but it’s something I’ve always read about and it’s already become this wildly impactful thing because I’ve seen two of the best plays I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve been able to travel for the past six years and I’m still finding new things I didn’t know about, or hadn’t experienced yet. The place for me that’s kind of like Paris for you, where I felt like nothing would top it, would be Tokyo. It’s so good, have you been? 
NB: No, that is top of my bucket list right now. Tokyo is for sure one of the places I need to hit. I don’t know what’s going to take me there, whether it’ll be work or my own leisure, but I need to go.

JOH: I would say just take yourself there, no matter what. The minute you have some free time in your schedule, go to Tokyo. It is the coolest place, it’s like being on a different planet, it’s also the most hospitable environment ever. Speaking of work, I feel like everything is changing right now. TikTok might get banned in a year, who knows? For a lot of people, the idea of the influencer is alienating and they’ve been waiting for these things to be eroded. But many of the influencers I know weren’t people who sought to have this career, they sought to do a lot of different things. How are you taking this opportunity and what is your plan? What happens to Noah Beck in the next five years? 
NB: When I first started TikTok, and when I first committed to dropping a Division 1 full-ride [soccer] scholarship, I told my team, “Hey, we need to think long term here, because I just gave up something I never thought I would in a million years. So, how do we make this last? What else can I do? How do we find the longevity?” From early on, when I moved out here to LA, I always used TikTok as my launching platform for everything, I owe TikTok a lot in terms of my following. That has given me the opportunity to put a leg into fashion, and things like acting have been an interest from early on, which is why I started acting classes over two years ago. Now, I’m just trying to have fun with it all and continue to see what I can do with my career. In the next five years, I think there may be a return to what was my first and true love: soccer. That door might not be closed. It’s been nice to find ways to stay close to soccer while also doing all these other things.

JOH: I love that, I think it’s really exciting. I dropped out of undergrad to become an actor, I started acting in plays and all sorts of things. After I had my six years of existing in the real world trying it out and moving to LA, I got to have this moment of reset where I was like, “Learning is so important,” so then I went back to Yale. I would also say, in the older friend, big brother type of way, I hope after these couple years of fun on the road, making coin, experiencing things you’ve never experienced before, before jumping back into soccer and killing it, you might also go to school. I do think in a weird preachy way, not enough people are reading books anymore and experiencing weird dumb shit. 
NB: That’s interesting. My parents have been amazing to me and are very supportive, they are both teachers. My sisters both went to college for teaching too, and now they’re also teachers. It’s funny and kind of ironic that I’m in a family full of educators and I dropped out my freshman year of college.

clothing and accessories by BALMAIN FW23

JOH: I’m pro-dropouts but I’m also pro-dropping back in. What did your parents say when you were like, “I’m not going to take my scholarship, I’m going to become a TikToker”? 
NB: It was definitely a conversation. What really helped them understand how important – and how out of the blue – this opportunity was is that they knew how much I loved soccer and they knew that was plan A. There was no plan B. So when they saw that something might have been skewing me in a different direction, they were like, “Oh, he must know something we don’t, so we should listen.” That’s when I was able to sit them down and be like, “Look, I have a few million followers on this app and now I’m getting offered financial opportunities, I’m getting offered places to stay in LA.” It was at the time when Covid was happening and so I didn’t want to make any decisions based on that, but soccer had been put on pause anyway. It seemed to be the clear choice at the time, so I just went for it. Before making any decisions with my school or coaches, I talked to the right people in LA, some of who still represent me to this day. My manager answered some questions that needed to be answered, he didn’t fill my head with anything, he was very straight up with me, like, “You have a full-ride D1 scholarship, which is worth a lot, and if you’re passionate about that you should pursue it, but there is this opportunity here and I would love to help you.” He’s still helping me to this day, we’ve accomplished a lot together.

JOH: Aside from the great things that time bought to your life, I think about the generational shift there must be, for a whole generation of people who didn’t get those two years of college, where they gain fifteen pounds, kiss the wrong person and party way too late without their parents around. Do you feel like going to LA and doing TikTok allowed you to have some of those experiences instead? Did you get to have a version of that in your TikTok house? 
NB: I grew up in Arizona and I moved away from my family when I was fifteen to go to Utah for a soccer residency academy, so it was basically like I went to college three years early. Moving to LA wasn’t my first time being away from my family, I love my family to death but they know I can fly on my own. I keep up with them all the time, but I’ve never been a huge homebody. Things were replicated in a sense going from college to then living in LA at this house that also collaborated with other houses. If people had cameras following us at that time, it would have been a crazy reality show. I finished high school and I did a year of college, so I got more of an experience than some kids who dropped out of high school. A couple of guys I lived with dropped out midway through high school and I definitely think that can stunt some growth as a human, I feel like you need those experiences. When we moved to LA in a house with other kids who didn’t get those experiences, you throw in money and ‘fame’ with a lot of people watching, it just seemed like there was so much high school drama going on at a time when, if we’d have just come together and done cool things, it could have been different. It was definitely an interesting time and I had fun, they’re definitely stories to tell the kids. I have nothing but love for everyone who was in those houses and I still talk to them to this day, we’re all just off doing our own thing now.

“I really do hope I figure out how to share less and how to keep some things sacred.”

clothing and accessories by BALMAIN FW23

JOH: I have very fond memories of knowing your whole story from when we first met at a dinner, and I feel as though you and I have such a fun friendship but it’s quite infrequent. From then on it became a thing that, whenever we were in the same town, we’d hang out and have dinner. You never drink which I thought was so cool. I only know one other young person who doesn’t drink and that’s Zendaya, I do think that’s the key to success at your age. What are your memories of meeting me and why do you keep answering my texts when I text you? Are you in love with me? The internet wants to know. [both laugh] 
NB: It’s true. [both laugh] Maxwell [Mitcheson, Noah’s manager] was initially like, “There’s this guy Jeremy who’s an amazing playwright and I think you guys would really hit it off.” He knows I don’t really like going to events I don’t have to be at, you’re not going to see me out at a tonne of things, so when I do go, I want to have genuine conversations, and we had a great conversation. I was fascinated by how intrigued you were, about the questions you just asked – you were like, “How is TikTok? Tell me all about it.” You have a pull; I want to talk to you because you’re a good listener and you’re very passionate about everything. We were in the middle of an event where people were drinking and dancing and we were having this in-depth conversation about life. Unlike a lot of other people I talk to, you were very actively listening. That always compelled me to stay close to you, you’re a good person and that’s very hard to come by in this space. Every time we talk, you’re always there with good advice – and obviously you’re brilliant at what you do as well. I loved The Sweet East, by the way, I thought you were class in it.

JOH: The Sweet East at Cannes! That was crazy. I wanted to ask you about meeting me so I could talk about what I like about you, what makes me excited about being near you. I’m a ‘big brother’, I’m the first first-born child and I think something really complicated in the job we do is that a lot of younger people interact with a lot of older people, and not everyone is trying to interact in a positive way. They don’t want to ask them real questions, they don’t want to know who they are, they just objectify them and see them as disposable; in one day and out the next. That takes hold of a lot of people’s psyches because it’s also a job many of us will be doing for the rest of our lives, so when I check in with people at a party like that, people I do know, or even people I don’t really know, it’s just to be like, “Hey, you good?” And people who actually respond in kind, respond in earnest and want to engage in a human way, make me really excited and make me feel like I want to invite them into some weird version of a family. A lot of people are very comfortable being an object until they realise they haven’t been a human in a while. I love meeting human beings who are excited about what we’re doing but also have some scepticism, and you have a healthy amount of scepticism about everything. 
NB: It’s refreshing to meet someone who thinks similarly but also very differently, I just like to pick brains – and your brain is very fun to pick.

JOH: Do you think in the next five years Noah Beck is going to learn how to share less, or to share differently? 
NB: I hope he does. I hope I find a very good balance, because people see the glamorous posts, TikToks or YouTube videos, and they’re looking at a fifteen-second video, one to ten photos on Instagram, or watching an eight to fifteen-minute video on YouTube and they’re like, “That’s all it took out of my day.” But it’s a lot of editing, there’s a lot that goes into it. It looks so good but it does get exhausting at times, when there isn’t a set-in-stone time of day to start and finish. When I want to check out, I end up doing something cool that I want to capture, and then I’m back to my job where I’m creating, posting and sharing. That’s the part I need to work on. I really do hope I figure out how to share less and how to keep some things sacred.

clothing and accessories by BALMAIN FW23

Interview originally published in HERO 30. 

photo assistant PATRICK KIM;
fashion assistant SOPHIA CHACON


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