Lisa Beverly is not trying to be Charli D’Amelio. Beverly is a 19-year-old college student from New Jersey. D’Amelio is a 15-year-old dancer from Connecticut who recently reached the pinnacle of TikTok fame. Lisa has straight dark hair, freckles, expressive big eyes, and a penchant for tank tops and sweatpants. Charli has straight dark hair, freckles, expressive — wait, are we sure that isn’t D’Amelio?
About a month ago, people started showing up in the comments of Beverly’s TikTok videos telling her she reminded them of the dancing teen, who is now the most popular person on the app with over 40 million followers.
“I’m so scared — literally, how does someone look so much like another person?” one user wrote in February.
D’Amelio began gaining popularity on the app in late 2019 for her dancing videos, and joined the much-buzzed-about Hype House, a group of TikTok creators who live together in Los Angeles. (D’Amelio visits, but still lives full-time in Connecticut.) In just a few months, she’s appeared at Milan Fashion Week, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and even in a Super Bowl commercial.
Beverly is a college student with dreams of acting, and she says that as D’Amelio’s following increased, so did the comments on her own videos. While the social following tracking site Socialblade doesn’t yet support TikTok, it shows that D’Amelio’s monthly gained Instagram followers peaked in late January, which is exactly when Beverly’s Instagram followers started rapidly rising as well. On TikTok, they now sit at 40 million and 134.1K followers respectively, but while D’Amelio’s success has brought fame and broken records within the app, Beverly’s resemblance to the dancer has brought on inexplicable backlash.
“You wanna be her SO bad,” one comment reads.
“Charli wanna be.”
With an estimated 800 million active users, TikTok is a place that unintentionally facilitates the fascination with doppelgängers that humans have always had since the term was first coined in 1796 by German writer Johann Paul Richter. Myths turned to impersonators, and impersonators to celebrity lookalike generators. But TikTok allows you to find your normal, average human twin in another user on its For You page, where you come face-to-face with a new, algorithmically random person in the world every 15 seconds. Recently, Emma Chamberlain found her doppelgänger in 20-year-old Arianna Arney, and posted about it on her own TikTok.
“pls dm me one of our parents cheated,” Chamberlain wrote.
It’s happened enough that now some users are actively searching for their own TikTok twin.
“There are at least five people in the world who look exactly like you,” Paul Geuy says in a video posted in December 2019. “And I figured since there’s about 500 million users here on TikTok that there’s bound to be at least a couple. So if you look just like me, duet this.”
The validity of the statistic is unclear — Geuy, a dental student from Ohio, told Refinery29 over email that he got the idea after watching a documentary about genetics and probability on Netflix that he couldn’t remember the name of — but that didn’t matter to the over 20K users who have since used his audio sound to appease their own curiosity. First, they cast a wide net by making a video with Geuy’s audio showing off their face. Then, they wait for their doppelgängers to stumble upon it and duet the video (a feature on TikTok that allows a user to react side-by-side to another video).
But Beverly didn’t go searching for this. While the comments on her most popular videos aren’t all hate, they’re almost all about D’Amelio. Users accuse her of copying D’Amelio’s mannerisms and purposefully wearing the same outfits.
“That's how I always dressed,” Beverly told Refinery29. “Any girl can wear stuff from Brandy Melville.”
As for the mannerisms, that’s just TikTok. The culture of the app is based on users trying out the same sounds and dances, riffing on each other’s work, and building trends. But Beverly has dealt with more than just comments.
At Playlist Live, a convention for digital creators that was hosted in late February, Beverly said that more than one person confused her with D’Amelio, who was also in attendance. People even started making fake accounts with Beverly’s pictures to make it seem like she was a third D’Amelio sister — 19-year-old Dixie D’Amelio is Charli’s only sister, also a member of Hype House, and once commented on one of Beverly’s videos remarking on the resemblance. The fake account was the last straw.
“I am not trying to be anyone else,” she says in a February video taken at the bottom of a flight of stairs. “I’m just trying to be myself.”
Beverly says the hate doesn’t bother her that much. She was already on YouTube and received criticism unrelated to her D’Amelio resemblance, which she says has made her “immune” to the comments on TikTok.
“Creators never hate on each other,” she pointed out. “So it's usually people who don’t have anything better to do.”
These accusations of imitation are now being thrown at TikTok user Ellie Zeiler. Her resemblance to D’Amelio is heightened by the fact that they share the same haircut, as well as D’Amelio’s signature large eyes. While she didn’t respond to Refinery29’s request for comment, the lookalike has blown up this week after D’Amelio herself remarked on their resemblance in the comments of one of Zeiler’s recent videos.
“You’re telling me this isn’t me?” she wrote, adding, “This is messing with my brain I can’t even comprehend this.”
Members of the Hype House chimed in, as well other recognizable internet figures like James Charles and Bentley The Goldendoodle Puppy. Not long after the excitement came the hate.
“She’s just trying to get famous based off the fact she looks like Charli.”
“Girl ur trying TOO hard to be her.”
“Looking like her is one thing but the act needs to go.”
For other, less high-profile doppelgängers, it’s all pleasantries.
“We didn’t interact much aside from liking posts, but it would be fun to get to know her!” Jordan, who goes by the TikTok username @chopstickbbydaddy, told Refinery29 over email after finding her doppelganger on TikTok, user @cringefactorx100, using Geuy’s audio back in January.
With the right makeup, @143joannagc found she looked eerily similar to @cryingsilver, and the 184.4k people who liked the video agreed. Likewise, 32.2k people agreed that @kidcrozby and @boundandbeautiful were practically twins when their hair was parted the same way. One of the most popular examples on TikTok is between users @jaxxster and @dearfauno: Their duet has 254.2K likes and over a thousand comments.“I screamed! This is crazy” wrote one user; “I’m freaking out” added another. The two have the same eyebrows and face shape, punctuated by their same braces. They’re also, Refinery29 learned after reaching out, actual twins. That happens sometimes.
But for some users, having a lookalike isn’t just genetics or a (sometimes unfortunate) coincidence. It’s their whole bit.
“Growing up I really didn't get a lot of comparisons until I cut my bangs freshman year,” 18-year-old Faith Housely told Refinery29 over email. Her over 38K followers on the app flock to her in part because of her uncanny resemblance to actress Lea Michele. In addition to her POV videos (a TikTok storytelling tool in which creators act out different “points of view” for the viewer), Housely regularly lip-syncs audio as Rachel Berry from Glee, which is a show frequently revisited on the app.
Housely passing as Rachel Berry is so successful that she even has a co-conspirator: 19-year-old Carson Drews, who happens to share a resemblance with Cris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel on Glee. The two don’t know each other in real life, but have used the app’s duet feature to act-out popular Glee scenes between the characters.
Then there’s Paige Niemann, the startling Ariana Grande lookalike who has remained fastidiously in character as her celebrity look alike since November 2019, racking up 5.4 million followers in the process. Grande herself has reportedly even reached out to Niemann.
“I was shocked. She's my idol so I was shaking a little bit,” Niemann told Entertainment Tonight in December. “She said, 'Let me know if you're ever going to my Sweetener Tour, we can grab a hug'...She wanted to let me know that I am beautiful in my own way and I said 'Thank you and thank you for being so kind to me.' And she said, 'I'm proud of you.'"
Housely, Drews, and Niemann make up the crowd of doppelgängers that are welcome — encouraged — to act like their internet twins. Drews says he sometimes even gets backlash when he makes videos that aren’t in the style of his celebrity lookalike. But even at 40 million followers, Charli D’Amelio is too precious to the TikTok community to be imitated. She’s a one-of-a-kind success story, and is sure to reach heights unanticipated by anyone on the app. When she does break out fully into the mainstream, then maybe it will be okay — and Beverly says she’d happily play her in the feature film of her story.
“I definitely would,” she said. “I mean, I probably would get a little bit of hate.”
But at this point, she’s used to it.