The UF community will have a chance to rub elbows with internet fame this Summer.
Student Government’s Accent Speakers Bureau will welcome TikTok star Josh Richards to the University Auditorium Wednesday at 7 p.m. The university's contract entitles Richards to $60,000 for about two hours of his time.
Richards, a 20-year-old Ontario native with 25.6 million followers on TikTok, often posts short videos lip syncing to popular sounds and clips of his weekly podcast, “BFFs.” In 2020, he wrote a diss track on fellow TikTok star Chase “Lil Huddy” Hudson called “Still Softish,” featuring YouTuber and TikTok star Bryce Hall.
The Accent event will feature a conversation between Richards and UF CJC Professor Andrew Selepak followed by a Q&A according to Accent Chairman Tyler Kahan. It is part of SG’s Great Gator Welcome week-long event, which will also sponsor GatorNights at the Reitz Union 7 - 11 p.m. Friday
“ACCENT decided on Josh as a possible speaker as he is a social media mogul, entrepreneur, writer, actor, and podcast host, as well as a fun, exciting, influential speaker who can focus on a wide array of topics,” Kahan wrote in an email to The Alligator.
The event is free with a valid Gator 1 card, and doors will open at 6 p.m.
Accent’s Instagram announcement post has received 500 likes and 158 comments as of Sunday. The excitement of some individuals, mostly those associated with Student Government, was mixed with discontent from others.
Megan Keating, a 20-year-old UF microbiology senior, called the decision embarrassing.
“I just think it’s weird we invited a TikTok star,” she said.
Richards made news in Variety Magazine Thursday with an announcement of a first-look deal; he will produce content for Amazon Studios and Prime Video. His team did not respond to communications from The Alligator as of Monday.
Keating said she was disappointed with the choice and described Richards’ relationships with women as suspicious, referring to his drama-filled split in 2021 with ex-girlfriend and TikToker Nessa Barrett.
She said she hopes he gives genuine advice that may be useful to college students and strays from problematic remarks. Her curiosity, she said, might drive her to go.
Sandra McDonald is a third-year journalism major and the Student Government reporter for the University Desk. This is her first semester at the Alligator. When she's not reporting, she's probably reading fantasy novels and listening to Taylor Swift.