In The Flesh: Karlo Carranza is Next

Truth be told, we always know the right thing to do; the challenge is putting it into practice—it takes an enormous amount of bravery and resolve. However, one thing is certain: Karlo Carranza is doing it.

Giving us a glimpse into the beginning of his TikTok journey, Carranza shared that his interest in recording videos significantly grew when the pandemic struck and he was in Taiwan.

Carranza left the country needing to pursue his master’s degree in Information Technology and carry out research on assistive devices. This benefited his career now as an IT manager, where he creates automations for some financial processes, in the sense that they’re also working on projects—likely research projects—but in the corporate world, where the problems are less complex.

His initial footfall did not come as quickly as it may have, just like any other successful content creator. Despite his animal magnetism and captivating enthusiasm, his ascent to massive views and “viral” status, came on the heels of his return to the Philippines. “When I came back, ‘yun ‘yung first ever na nag-blow up—for me nag-blow up—with 10k views agad. Compared to my Taiwan posts, na mga 200 [views] lang, ganon.” 

Button-down shirt and trousers, Nina Amoncio.

Under the country’s hot and sunny temperature, he has found his light by posting quarantine content, where he then shared his glow-ups and antics with his family, especially his mother, that viewers then laughed at and related to. This later turned into his most well-known content as other people also started to identify them off the video-sharing platform, “My mom even got recognized sa airport,” he disclosed enthusiastically.

And even in his reluctant “thirst-traps”—an actual route willingly undertaken by some, if not, most of his contemporaries—that he then decided to carefully tread, it’s still his humor that took him to a different league, much like the influence of YouTuber Ryan Higa in his content.

His motivation to generate humorous stuff is then fueled by the affirmation from those who watch him not for anything else but just for being himself. And as he went on in his social media journey, he has continued on in an exploration of what he is and what he can do with his viewers, those who are responsible in bringing thousands and even multi-million views on even his most random posts.

While he is now deeply-entrenched in doing well in his corporate career prior to engaging on TikTok, his now-growing influence online has served as a ringing reminder to his high school and college years, when he has always had a passion for creative pursuits, including theater acting. “Parang na-spark uli ‘yung passion ko in acting. So, ngayon parang naalala ko na ‘yung isang pangarap ko na nawalan ng ilaw. So, in short, nabuhay ‘yung dream ko because of TikTok.”

Sweater, Proudrace. Skirt, Adam Pereyra.

Landing on his first full-time job in the midst of the pandemic, he has since subsequently gained confidence to continue his drive for making videos, while initially being afraid to take risks in a non-traditional approach, thinking that success is usually corporate-driven. Even though he was initially simply doing it for fun, things changed as he started to gain popularity along the way.

“When I started to have views and reach, I was blessed to start on doing collabs, including brands I believe in. Taposyung mga line of content is really still about family comedy content. It’s really amazing when something that I did very randomly became something that resonated with viewers that I do not even know, let alone see, what more with the brands that are reaching out to me,” he shares.

In spite of his accomplishments and a slew of videos that went viral, Carranza remains apprehensive of having influence at the time, feeling that his audience is still too small. However, as though the stars had finally aligned, he realized that he was already gearing up to be in the spotlight when his videos kept on reaching many users’ algorithms. “When it started to get higher and higher, parang it’s starting to dawn on me na I’m starting to have a real platform.”

Skirt, Adam Pereyra.

With these successes piling up and snow-balling into something promising for him, his belief that TikTok could be only a platform for him to use for entertainment and never intending for it to cross the line of education and even advocacy, changed almost magnanimously. Before, he wanted his work as an IT professional and TikTok to be kept distinct from one another, but now, knowing how to work on melding not just these two worlds but his other proclivities, his direction shifted into seeing how his influence could inspire as it could entertain.

Maria Ressa, who is well-known for using her platform to call attention to instances of abuse of authority, the use of violence, and the rise of authoritarianism, motivated the 26-year-old creator to use his IT knowledge and skills for awareness and to overcome the doubts that had been plaguing him for a while. “I have to admit that there’s pressure na parang ‘why won’t I use it’? Ang dami mong puwedeng sabihin. Sayang, yung platform, lalo no’ng umabot na ng 100k pataas. It felt like there’s more that I should make use for it.”

Encouraging an ethical way of voicing out and putting a stop to the toxicity of cancel culture, Carranza is aware of the responsibility that comes with having a huge platform. As his numbers continuously grew, he slowly took on seizing the opportunity to serve as a viable resource and use this as a means of imparting knowledge to others who hold on to problematic ideologies, the way he knows best, be it through humor or sincere observations in bite-sized content he shares.

Social media makes it possible to exchange positive ideas, but this same democracy also makes it possible to spread negativities, false information, hate, and anything devised to alter our perceptions of the world. The fact that we live in a culture of so much divide, where we don’t want to be taught, especially if we are perceived not to have the right to do so, makes things more tricky for creators like Carranza.

Mesh top, Proudrace. Trousers, Adam Pereyra.

Nandun pa rin ako sa start of my journey where I finally decided and am finding my footing in voicing out what I think is right. For example, discussing basic, fundamental knowledge much like the price of your privacy in social media and where and how your data is stored and used.”

However, despite his efforts to fearlessly convey these messages to the general public, he acknowledges that he hasn’t given much thought on how to triumph balancing content he is known for, learning the basics of people’s content consuming behavior, because his analytics normally drop whenever he creates content on matters that are important to him, be it on the risks of social media, even touching on his transgressive views on gender and sexuality.

“I started caring when I started to show mas valuable content, and to be honest, the type that’s more fulfilling for me. Kasi like, ‘Oh! No one’s watching, they’re supposed to watch now.’ So, I’m starting to care about that. Thinking about it, before, I’m used to seeing higher views. But now, at least maybe just 500 who’s informed or a little informed—it will ripple and will create even the slightest change into some people’s perspectives.”

Carranza believes that these platforms have the potential to have a propitious impact on society, and that whether or not they do have a negative impact is ultimately up to the individual using them. Despite one aspect of these platforms that he feels is missing—that they’re not found accountable for trying to push for accurate information—he still stands that they have the power to be beneficial.

Photographed by Dix Perez.

“It goes without saying that our sources of information grow and evolve. And I think social media has evolved into more than just entertainment; it evolved into becoming a source of information for everyone.”

When asked of the value of this new landscape of content outlets, “It’s never negative for me. Sure, we see there’s a lot of ways it could be used for wrongful doings, but I’m always amazed about TikTok, and social media in general. I still believe that there’s more people out there, organizations even, who would want to use it for good than those bad sectors who have an eye on using it for the worst. We just have to make an even greater effort to put more good out there. We have to be more proactive about it, because we know they are out there to get us.”

Balancing his views on the use of the platform for greater causes, and knowing how social media and other digital channels paved the way into the acting world to many, Carranza instilled hope in himself for new prospects and “maybe” trying something different in front of the camera, for the small and big screen. He is not starting off green, though, as he has already had his forays into music video and commercial acting prior and during the pandemic.

(Left) Lace top, Proudrace. (Right) Top, Adam Pereyra.

Recently, he has spent a great deal of time accessing his acting gifts with numerous workshops that allowed him to revisit his other passion. Starting with industry regular Ogie Diaz’ acting workshops, he has actively taken on learning various approaches on the craft of acting in front of the camera, most recent of which would be one that he has shared with friends in school who have already started their acting journey in the industry like Alex Diaz and Nour Hooshmand, with internationally-acclaimed actress and now mentor Angeli Bayani.

“It was almost otherworldly. With Meisner (referring to Meisner Studio Manila, with Bayani as designated teacher), it taught me that acting is not just acting, it’s walking into this world of possibilities with storytelling. It should never be just about learning a few lines and crying on cue. It’s about accessing your truth, and applying that to every role you are given. It’s the magic of world-building. It reminded me of what I love most about theater, and performing, actually, back in school,” he enthuses.

Navigating the varied worlds he has already dipped his toes in, from theater, to commercial acting and modeling, fitness, and social media content, Carranza shows no signs of slowing down and is raring to flex his muscles into the world he is set to build for himself, on and off our mobile phone screens.

All these said, Karlo Carranza is next.

With additional text by Leo Balante

Produced, creative direction, styling, and interview by Leo Balante
Photography by Dix Perez
Grooming by Janica Cleto
Fashion by Nina Amoncio, Adam Pereyra, and Proudrace
Cover video art by Emil Santiago
Cover layout by Bhernn Saenz
Shot on location at Penthouse Studio