Tally Dilbert is making sure Afro-Latina identity, beauty and style are acknowledged by everyone, one viral TikTok video at a time.
Dilbert, a 24-year-old Honduran visual artist based in San Antonio, Texas, posts a variety of different videos on social media: fashion hauls, museum tours and tips on how to become the next big influencer. On her Instagram, she posts photos and Reels of her outfits and hair, whether it’s her beautiful locs, natural Afro or her most recent ginger wig.
Of course, like every creator hoping to go viral, she keeps up with the latest memes and trends on TikTok, too. But Dilbert also uses her platform ― she has more than 80,000 followers and 1.5 million likes on TikTok ― to educate others on anti-Blackness within the Latinx community and how to combat it.
For example, in early September, she posted a video of herself with the words “Colorism doesn’t exist in Latin America,” written in Spanish. The text on the screen then changes to say “Me, sharing my experiences about how it does exist,” accompanied by the popular TikTok sound “You need to leave!”
At the start of Latinx Heritage Month, she posted a couple of videos about how Afro-Latinos deserve more representation in the U.S., especially in the media.
“My main reason was to inspire other Afro-Latina girls because I feel like we have little to no representation when it comes to media, and if there is [representation], it’s very limited,” Dilbert said. “Most of the time, people take Black women as a stereotype: that we’re ghetto or we don’t like to do certain things. I wanted to break those stereotypes.”
The lack of Afro-Latinx representation in media was evident this summer in the online discourse about Lin Manuel-Miranda’s movie musical “In The Heights.” The film is set on the streets of Washington Heights, a gentrifying New York City neighborhood home with a diverse Latinx population, but the principal cast featured zero dark-skinned Afro-Latinx actors. Manuel-Miranda later apologized for this misstep, acknowledging that he fell short in representing the community.
On social media, Dilbert used this moment to lean into her identity and encourage other young Afro-Latinos to speak up and be themselves. “I’ve learned to stay authentic and show that we’re meant to be in those spaces,” Dilbert said.
One of Dilbert’s first videos to get over 100,000 views on TikTok was a video in Spanish about what it means to be Honduran. “You’re not Honduran if you don’t like baleadas,” she says, referring to a traditional Honduran dish. Then she lists things Hondurans do constantly. “If you don’t use ‘maje’ every three seconds of your life and if you don’t know how to dance punta, maje,” she says as she shrugs.
Then there are the super-viral moments: Dilbert’s video about the luxury of drinking Coca-Cola out of a plastic bag with a straw in Honduras gained more than 500,000 views. “If you haven’t had this, if you haven’t had Coca-Cola in a bag, you have to try it,” she says.
In May, Dilbert joined TejasHouse, one of the first content houses for bilingual creators. In these content houses, creators usually live together for a few months to create videos for social media. Their rent, food and utilities are all paid for so they can focus on creating the next big viral moment. She collaborated with TejasHouse for two months of its first season.
Going from living alone to sharing a house with eight other young adults who all make social media content may sound less than ideal. But Dilbert said she managed to enjoy her time in the space.
“There’s definitely a lot of personality,” Dilbert told HuffPost. “So it helped me work on my patience, and I worked on how to communicate with people and how to manage different personalities. Some people have strong personalities and some are more chill.”
Gilbert Sosa, a filmmaker and influencer, came up with the idea for TejasHouse and invited Dilbert to join. She said Sosa found one of her Instagram reels where she is sharing tips about being an influencer.
“He talked to me about the content house and what they wanted to create, which to me was awesome, because not only was it inclusive but it became something educational and fun,” she told HuffPost.
When making videos together, people in the house mainly sought to dismantle stereotypes about Latinos. Latinx and Hispanic communities are not a monolith, and the creators wanted to show that people from these communities don’t all speak or think the same.
Dilbert moved from Honduras five years ago to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she graduated in 2020 with a degree in communications. That’s when she began to make money from her content. For her, it wasn’t only a stream of income, but also an escape from classes and the stressors of student life.
At first, she didn’t mention her new passion to her dad because he was already concerned with her being on the internet so much. She said her mom was more understanding. Eventually, she got to have an “I told you so” moment with her parents.
“They saw the opportunities coming — the interviews, the paid partnerships — and were like ‘Oh, it’s a job!’” she said of her parents, who now support her career choice. “But I am ambitious and I had a goal and I knew someday it was gonna happen!”
To focus on her love for fashion, content creation and her own heritage, Dilbert said her No. 1 goal is to have her own television show. For now, she’s just feeling thankful and still shocked at the brands that reach out to work with her, such as Express, Pandora and Theory.
“I feel that people are very closed-minded when it comes to being a creative,” Dilbert said. “I love being able to share [what I’ve accomplished] because I really want to inspire people to go after your dreams. People will laugh and they will criticize you, they’ll say you’re doing nothing, but as long as it makes you happy just go for it, and then everything will fall into place.”