In 1966, legendary rock band The Who released a song titled “The kids are alright” – a song (and a quote) that would go on to be referenced for decades to come and it was this song that came to mind (don’t ask me why) when I watched Oxipinion’s viral video for the first time.
The 14-year-old content creator became a “national treasure” overnight after sharing a well-informed rant against ignorant opinions. In the video, she backs up her knowledge referencing the books she has read one by one before defending her definition of ignorance.
To describe the video as “viral” is almost an understatement – it has travelled far and wide in a matter of weeks and Oxipinion has gone from being just another teenager on social media to a young activist whose fans now include Rihanna and Beyonce’s mother, Tina Lawson.
Millennials might have taken a lot of flack, but Gen Z has had to fight for the right to be taken seriously in the era of Tik Tok challenges and shade-throwing. But this conversation with Oxipinion reminded me that the kids are alright – despite the many concerns shared by the older generations around how things are done “these days”.
For this special chat we debunked myths, facts and Oxipinions as we spoke to our youngest ever interview guest. Her mother (read: momager!) was also on hand to share some insight into how she nurtured her daughter’s precocious talents.
Say Hello to Oxipinion
Moziak Magazine: Welcome to Moziak Magazine Oxipinion! There’s nowhere else to start – how does it feel to “go viral”?
It has been a very overwhelming and exciting experience. I didn’t expect to get all the love and support I have received in the last month, It’s crazy that I’ve even gone international now. Stars like Rihanna and Mama Tina, BET, The Shade Room have followed me so it’s been really overwhelming [in a good way]. I am enjoying it because I’m doing what I love the most which is educating people and sharing my opinions.
MM: What was your online presence like before your video reached the masses and did you plan for that video to be so popular?
“People ask me ‘How did it happen?’ and I tell them it all happened on one day!
“Before the video went viral I didn’t have much of an online presence. I have a strict, black mom, and before the video blew up I didn’t have anything except Tik Tok because my mom didn’t allow me to have Instagram, or Facebook or anything but Tik Tok (which I had to ask for very nicely!)
“Even once I made that video and people started showing up on my page, my mom was still a little hesitant on letting me join the other platforms full time. But after seeing the kind of attention I was getting she allowed me to open these pages because she was very understanding and supporting. But before [the viral video] it was a mission.”
MM: You’ve capitalised on the opportunity very quickly and built yourself a brand in a short space of time. How did you come up with the name of your channels?
Oxi: “For the past while my nickname among my friends was Oxi, and I’ve always been very opinionated. But before I had that name my aunt actually posted a video of me on her Twitter and it got a lot of views. When I saw it was getting traction one day I just woke up and said ‘Mom I have a name – Oxipinion!” And it was such a great name that everyone instantly loved.”
MM: This one is for you Ma, how have you handled Oxi’s rise to fame at a relatively young age?
Mom: “I think I have always known that Oxi is a gifted child and as a parent, my first priority is to protect my daughter from some of the dangers of the internet. We had seen her potential and initially, we agreed that she would have Tik Tok access, and then she can branch into more content creation once she is 18 [and done with high school]. But after seeing the strong and encouraging responses to her content I knew that I had to invest in her platform so we went and got a ring light, we got her a mic and made sure her content is crystal clear. The funniest part is that the viral video didn’t have any push or any equipment – it was all done by accident!”
MM: Most parents aren’t at all comfortable with the idea of their kids being online – mostly because of the risk out there. How do you protect your daughter while giving her peace of mind?
Mom: “And so we have had many talks about social media, about what is out there and what not to do – and it can be scary at times, but we are focusing instead on growing her platform and her message. “
MM: Back to you Oxi – you’re not an ordinary teenager. How did you develop such a strong backbone and an attitude for activism?
Oxi: “I’ve been sharing my opinion for a long time, even when I was much younger I always stood up for whatever I felt was wrong. Sometimes I would be accused of backchatting, but if something is wrong or I don’t agree I would backchat and not out of disrespect, but to try and do what’s right. Yes, our parents and teachers know a lot, but you can always learn from someone smaller than you too.”
MM: That’s incredible. And where did your love for reading and speaking come from?
Oxi: “Growing up I lived in a very small town called Newcastle and from there my mom always used to buy me books and I always used to share those books with my classmates. When I moved to Johannesburg in Grade 4, I started learning history and I was so fascinated by our stories and I wanted to know more about this thing called Apartheid and how it impacted people but at school, the curriculum was not broad enough. So I told my mom and she was tired of me asking questions all the time so she bought me all the books that detailed South Africa’s history. I was a curious and inquisitive child and after a while, my mom was just like ‘Here are the books, all the answers are in there’.
MM: It might have been a small thing at the time and I’m sure it’s made a big difference right now:
Oxi: “I think more parents should invest in their children’s interests and encourage them to grow in knowledge in those areas. I am glad I had a mother who was invested in the things I was interested in and buying those books is the best thing she could have ever done for me.”
MM: Ma, how did you discover at a young age that your daughter was gifted?
Mom: “I have always had a vision for my daughter and I’ve always been clear about the direction I want to steer her towards. I am a very busy working mom with a full-time job so when I would come home she would have loads of questions for me and I just couldn’t get to them all! So I realised that books were the perfect solution for her curious mind and she has taken it and run with it!
“Oxi is not just a reader either, she gives so much of herself to her extracurricular activities as well and I support all of her passions. When she needs to be at school by 6 AM for swimming I will be the one to drop her off. When she does something on stage or in the theatre, I will be the one in the front row (unless I’m late then I’ll be in row 3 – she doesn’t like that!). I really have gone all out to support her every passion and give her the platform to excel in different areas. Sports, academic, cultural – she does it all!”
MM: One thing I’ve noticed in recent years is how young people [specifically Gen Zs!] are looked down upon by elders. Do you feel like you are challenging stereotypes and representing the youth?
Oxi: “The youth of today is very active and very informed. I am proud to be representing young people. These platforms like Tik Tok are massive, but it all depends on how you use the platforms. To be honest, at first, I was also just making dancing videos on Tik Tok but when Black Lives Matter and similar movements began to trend, I realised that I could use my platform to share the same opinions I’ve been known to share in my life and that’s how I saw how much good can come from social media.”
MM: Last but not least Oxi, if you could leave us with 3 key traits that all humans should strive to have?
Oxi: “The ability to adapt to change very quickly – this is a vital life skill because you can’t predict the future, especially in these times with Covid-19 and things like that.
“Loving and showing love to everyone and anyone.
“And being open-minded and free. Those would be my 3!”
Where to keep up with Oxipinion: