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Jalaiah Harmon is ready for you to see her as more than just the creator behind the massively viral Renegade dance.
The 16 year old, living in Fayetteville, Georgia, is the subject of a new docuseries from Togethxr, the media and commerce company founded by the athletes Alex Morgan, Chloe Kim, Simone Manuel and Sue Bird. In the four-part series, I Am: Jalaiah, viewers get a peek into Harmon’s life after the frenzy of her Renegade fame.
Harmon — who has performed at the 2020 NBA All-Star game last year, appeared on Ellen and can count Michelle Obama as a fan, among other accomplishments — says her life is certainly “busier,” but it still feels “normal” to her. “I have school, still have chores, [I’m trying to] get my driver’s license, I have to babysit still,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Just normal teenage stuff.”
In the first episode of the series, Harmon admits that she’s generally a more shy person, but when it comes time to performing and dancing, she breaks out of her shell. Kayla Johnson, the director of I Am: Jalaiah, is meant to introduce a different side of Harmon to the world.
“This story, quite simply, is about centering and celebrating Jalaiah,” Johnson said in a statement. “She’s more than just a TikTok phenom and more than just ‘the girl who created the Renegade.’ Though, not enough people gave her credit for the latter. I’m excited for the world to get to know her, her incredible family, and her effortlessly cool friends, as she navigates adolescence while chasing her dreams.”
After a New York Times profile last year helped widely identify Harmon as the creator of the dance that went viral on TikTok, Harmon was at the center of a larger conversation about how Black creators are often not credited for creating the popular dances and trends that proliferate on the app. Harmon acknowledges that progress has been made since then, but Black creators still are struggling to get properly credited or acknowledged.
“A lot of stuff has changed after that, but still to this day, people text me about them not getting their credit,” she says. “I just feel like all you have to do is repost or just appreciate at least what the person has created for you to redo.”
Having experienced it herself, Harmon advises other dancers and creators on TikTok to not give up when seeking credit for trends they’ve created.
“My advice would be to not let it get to you but still speak up because you don’t want it to just be one thing and disappear after you’ve said something once,” Harmon says. “Still have it in the air somewhere so that people can hear you.”
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