By MARK RICE, Ledger-Enquirer
COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — Videos of the food she makes in her Columbus kitchen are going viral on TikTok.
Gabrielle “Gabby” Williams is the woman behind the social media sensation. Her content has become so popular, copycats motivated her to update the title of her account to “The ORIGINAL Disney Movie Food Series Creator.”
In six months, Williams has collected 33.9 million likes and 1.3 million followers from more than 40 videos.
“I wanted to think of something new that I haven’t really seen on any socials yet,” she told the Ledger-Enquirer. “… Oh, man, it just took off from there, and I’m still shocked that we’ve come this far.”
WHO IS THE DISNEY MOVIE FOOD SERIES CREATOR?
Williams, 32, and her 12-year-old daughter live with her parents in Midland. She is a 2007 graduate of Central High School in Macon and moved to Columbus seven years ago to be closer to family after her father, the Rev. Reggie Williams, became pastor of South Columbus United Methodist Church.
While taking online courses from the Los Angeles Film School for a bachelor’s degree in digital filmmaking, Williams wanted to merge her passions for Disney movies, cooking and baking into an uplifting diversion from the COVID-19 pandemic. She resolved to begin producing the videos on New Year’s Day.
“I wanted to just start doing something to help take people’s minds off of the negativity,” she said.
Williams rewatched her favorite Disney movies and listed the foods that appear in each scene. She also gets ideas from the requests followers send her. Making a few videos per week, she figures she still has two years worth of ideas left.
Her daughter, Amaya, assists with the video production.
“She’s a huge help,” Williams said.
WHAT’S THE MOST POPULAR TIKTOK VIDEO IN THE DISNEY MOVIE FOOD SERIES?
Her most popular video, with about 34 million views, is a TikTok Sound called “I Want It, I Made It,” which depicts pizza from “The Goofy Movie” and grubs (out of gnocchi) from “The Lion King.”
“Pretty crazy,” she said.
But she thinks there’s a rational reason for the faithful followers.
“It makes them feel like a child again,” she said. “And that’s the best compliment because that’s exactly what I want. It feels so good. It almost makes me teary thinking about it. People grow up, and they lose kind of that magic they have as a child. So rewatching all of these different clips of Disney movies and watching the food just come to life, it makes them feel that magic again, and that just makes me so happy.”
Williams occasionally produces videos of her making food from non-Disney content, such as “Harry Potter,” “Coraline” and Nickelodeon — and she is planning a “Star Wars” week — but Disney remains her dominant theme.
The videos are approximately 1 minute, but they take hours to make. Her most challenging was to bake that leaning blue cake from “Sleeping Beauty.”
“It took me an entire day to do that,” she said. “It wouldn’t stay. I decided I wouldn’t make a full, giant cake. So I made little donuts, little cake donuts. The donuts wouldn’t stay. They kept falling. The icing messed up. So I had to redo the entire thing about two times. People don’t get to see all that. They don’t know how much it takes — how much money and effort and time it takes to do this — but it is so worth it.”
Williams has collected enough followers (10,000 minimum) to be part of the TikTok Creator Fund. This allows her to be paid based on the number of views. Williams estimated she has earned around $5,000 from the fund.
In her videos, Williams includes clips from the movies she references, plus music, but viewers don’t hear her voice or see her face, just her hands.
“I like the fact that no one can really judge this off of my looks or anything,” she said. “All you’re judging is the food.”
Judging by the social media reaction, this project is a certified success.
“It’s surreal,” she said. “. . . I’m just doing something in this little kitchen just for fun. This started as a complete hobby.”
Now, it’s a possible career.
“It’s opened so many doors,” she said.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE CREATOR?
Disney Plus emailed her an invitation to the premiere of “Luca.” Although she couldn’t travel to Los Angeles in time, Williams noted, “They definitely said, ’We’re keeping you on the list. We have noticed you. We’re loving what you’re doing.”
Netflix also emailed her, Williams said, asking her to create dishes from some of their content.
She plans to write a book containing her Disney food recipes. Williams also hopes to coordinate with Disney to establish a restaurant serving Disney-themed food.
Disney hasn’t warned her about possibly violating their trademark, Williams said. In fact, she added, Disney social media accounts have praised her videos.
Newsweek, Yahoo, BuzzFeed, Travel & Leisure and even a British newspaper, the Independent, are among the websites spreading her fame.
The positive feedback from the entertainment and media industries, as well as social media friends, boosted her confidence.
“They’ve helped me through different things that I may have been going through that day,” she said. “They always make me feel better.”
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