‘Heathers’ star Hannah Lowther on how TikTok took her to the West End
The pandemic changed the way we watch and interact with theatre. More theatre events are available to stream online, and performers can more readily communicate with fans and audiences as well.
Similarly, there’s different paths to becoming a well-known West End theatre actor. While many performers work their way through the ranks in London shows, some actors already find themselves with a legion of fans before making their West End debut.
This sentiment applies for Hannah Lowther, a musical theatre TikTokker who gained fame by relating her retail job — a Tesco cashier — to the theatre world. Her decision to use TikTok so prolificly would ultimately change her life.
Lowther downloaded TikTok on a whim during the first lockdown as a way to communicate with friends and family. Pretty soon, her videos took over everyone’s For You Page (a personalised feed with videos suitable for you based on a TikTok algorithm) and she became the face of the West End. Currently, her TikTok account boasts nearly 600,000 followers.
Nowadays, Lowther’s making her West End debut in Heathers at The Other Palace. Her TikTok is filled with behind-the-scenes access to the show, as well as question and answer sessions, day in the life videos, and even sneak peek videos at the upcoming Heathers film.
So what did she post on TikTok to attract so many people online? Easy. She kept it real. By sharing her day-to-day musical theatre thoughts online, she found a virtual community.
“I didn’t really think anything of it. The TikTok algorithm works in crazy ways. So it worked out that that’s the type of content that I like to watch: the Bridgerton musical, the Ratatouille musical. I thought I might as well just put it out there on this platform.”
Her TikTok account wasn’t an overnight success though. It took months of hard grafts and many videos a day to get to this position.
“I had two followers [at first]. It was my mum and my sister and it wasn’t a thing,” laughs Lowther. “And they started getting [excited when] my videos got so many views. It’s got 1000 views.”
Sure, 1000 views may seem minimal now. But today, Lowther’s TikTok videos have over 22 million likes. Just two years into her social media journey, and she’s now collaborating with a variety of world-leading brands.
Booking a social media-related job isn’t the same as starring in a West End show. For Lowther, it’s important to correlate the two equally and see it as career progression.
“I did a social media ad for Samsung. If I was doing that on the TV, I would be like oh my gosh, this is epic.I’ve got an ad. But when it’s on social media, there’s not that there’s kind of a little bit of a weird thing around it. I’ve been learning to think of all these, you know, the social media opportunities from an actress perspective.”
And putting an actress’ perspective is important on staying grounded. Typically, Lowther’s videos show her smiling and dancing while sharing her latest stories. She’s also transparent on parts of the industry normally kept in the shadows: audition processes, actor salaries, and more. Lowther’s aware of her new-found social responsibility, but she doesn’t shirk away from it.
“It’s easy to look at people’s social media accounts and be like “oh my god, their life is perfect.” I get it looks that way but it’s not the case. It’s just trying to break the boundaries and blur it and be real and show that I’m positive but I was not always this happy, dancing Tesco girl!”
Hannah Lowther stars in Heathers to 12 Jun. 2022. If you miss her in Heathers on stage, you’ll be able to watch her in the Heathers musical film, recorded at The Other Palace.