Jamaican father-daughter duo takes over TikTok

Manawe Simpson and his 12-year-old daughter, Keelie

A father-daughter duo reigning on social media is a rarity, especially in Jamaica. This adds to the interest surrounding social media personality Manawe Simpson and his 12-year-old daughter Keelie, who have been taking over TikTok recently.

What started out as a pastime to survive the mundane days of quarantine is growing into a family-friendly brand attracting six-figure live viewership and thousands in likes.

“I joined TikTok in April. It was introduced to me by my daughter a few weeks prior to me joining,” Simpson told BUZZ. “Keelie became involved one day when I was making some TikTok videos and an idea came to me about the iPhone 11 Pro. She’s always asking me to buy her an iPhone 11 Pro, and I don’t even have one. I thought about a father hearing his daughter ask about a phone that he can’t even afford for himself, and what would make him go out of his way to provide that for her.”

The chemistry

The final cut bore a nimble-witted Keelie suggesting she could just get a boyfriend, and Simpson subsequently scrabbling for his wallet.

Their debut superseded the reception of his solo TikTok uploads, inspiring a demand for this dynamic comprising the nuances of raising children and the daring questions they ask. The girl-dad, who also has a son, said their content reflects their daily conversations.

“The response has been overwhelmingly awesome,” he said. “I knew what we had was great and hilarious, but the magnitude to which people have been gravitating towards it has been phenomenal… People love the connection, combination and chemistry is rare in Jamaica, especially on social media. With fathers usually being absent in the homes and in the life of their kids, it’s a breath of fresh air to see this connection transcend through social media.”

Warming up to fame

He’s garnered more than 40,000 TikTok followers and says the audience grows by at least 200 daily, especially when they host gift-giving Q&A Lives. More than 8,000 people are following Keelie’s account.

The pre-teen recently enrolled at the Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha), a feat which accompanied a TikTok father-daughter “talk”, you know, the one about boys.

“But it’s a ZOOM class mi a go pon,” Keelie is quick to point out.

“It nuh matter, if a boy even look pon yuh weh yuh supposed to seh?…”

After failed defences, Keelie recites: “Mi a go tell mi fada.”

A Kingston College graduate, Simpson is ensuring there is a balance between Keelie’s new scholastic chapter and her online presence.

“She loves her social media and is warming up to all the fame. However, she is aware that we will not compromise her education in any way for it. The agreement is to maintain great grades in school and we will continue making videos. Once there is any slight decrease in her grades, she will be banned from the app and from making videos until she can balance both it and her school work.”

Becoming an influencer

Many may recognise Simpson from his dancing days in Untouchable Squad, but he’s more behind the scenes lately managing Harbour View dance outfit Fantastic Steppaz. The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly disrupted the live aspect of the entertainment industry, so Simpson is getting creative.

“We’re trying to stick it out, and what I’m trying to do is continue being relevant in the social media space whether it’s with my daughter or myself, so as soon as COVID passes I still have a space where I can market the dance group and other ventures that I plan to branch off in.”

Among the latter is his ideal workspace, YouTube.

“The aim was always to go to YouTube. I have always seen myself as an influencer,” he said. “I always wanted to use my social media to inspire and motivate people from every and anywhere. I haven’t started our YouTube channel as yet because I am still learning about how it works, but all our followers will be directed there once it’s up and running.”