What does Harry Tsang want? That was the question I asked myself when I stumbled onto his Instagram page and saw that he listed himself as Woah Vicky’s manager. (He has since changed his bio to the tongue-in-cheek descriptor “FATHER.”) For the blessedly unaware, Woah Vicky (given name Victoria Rose Waldrip) is an 18-year-old viral sensation who became famous in 2017 for loudly proclaiming, based on nothing but a test result from Ancestry.com, to have newly discovered that she’s black, despite all appearances and all available evidence pointing to the fact that she’s white. But, in a taste of things to come, her announcement of the alleged test results was confusing: In one telling, her DNA proved she was 25% African-American, in another 44%.
Waldrip took her supposed new race as an opportunity to act like a caricature of a black woman—claiming to be from Atlanta’s notorious Zone 6 despite hailing from the suburb of Marietta about 20 miles away, waving guns around in videos, using the n-word profusely, wearing du-rags and shower caps, filming online makeup tutorials with titles like “How to Make Your Melanin Glow!”, recording rap songs, screaming “Black lives matter!” when she got arrested, and more.
What does Harry Tsang want out of his work with Woah Vicky? It’s a question that led me down a rabbit hole of viral videos, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, 9-year-old "flexers," Instagram “celebrities,” intra-Republican party political rivalries, obituaries, wedding announcements, fake pregnancies, and even Herman Cain. And at the end of it, I wasn’t much closer to understanding what Harry Tsang wants, but I finally understood why it was so hard to find out.
Tsang is 27, born in the fall of 1990. He grew up in Hong Kong and moved to Orlando in 2003. A friend at Timber Creek High School got him interested in conservative politics, and he went on to study political science at the University of Central Florida. From there, it was a fairly typical political-consultant-in-the-making path—certainly nothing that would indicate the desire to shepherd the career of a race-baiting viral star. He was on the board of the Florida Federation of Teenage Republicans. He posed for photos with Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. He was pretty heavily involved in state Republican politics, and even made inroads on the national level. He volunteered on a few Senate races, including Marco Rubio’s campaign in 2010 (he helped out Rubio again in 2016, though “not in an official capacity.”) Tsang was also a part of Herman Cain’s short-lived run for president in 2011-12.
His jobs during those races involved reaching out to young people.
“I’d just do outreach. That’s what I’d do all day,” he remembered. “I’d talk to people from different youth organizations within the GOP.”
And even though he was barely old enough to drink, he was as cynical as any hard-bitten veteran political consultant. When asked why he chose to work with Cain, he said that it was a simple connection.
“There was a friend of mine who was the sales director at the time, and he just wanted my help,” he said.
And when Cain withdrew from the primary in disgrace? “I feel nothing. You have to understand, I was a political operative, so we don’t have any feelings.”
The future manager’s Facebook posts from that time read like any standard Young Republican: sexist memes, stands against gender-neutral bathrooms, talk of how Obama “must be defeated this November to protect this Nation from total destruction,” documentation of rocking out to Journey after the Republican National Convention, and attempts to hitch a ride to CPAC.
Tsang also got a taste of the nightlife, photographing bars and clubs around Orlando for City2nite.com and handling media relations for Orlando’s Fashion Week in 2013.
But in late March of 2015, things started to change. After finishing UCF, Tsang moved to Los Angeles, got a job at Thunder Digital Media, and entered the world of YouTube stars. Within a few months, he was the director of Streamline Buzzer, a blog “dedicated to reporting the latest information and news in the YouTube Community.”
The work with Woell [“I helped him out with business stuff,” he said cryptically] was Tsang’s first real experience in show business, and it set the stage for what was to come.
Tsang’s politics underwent a major shift late last year. He changed his party registration to Democrat, he told me, specifically because of the GOP’s stance on net neutrality.
“I mean, my industry is social media,” he explained. “It’s digital media. It’s [the] influencer space. And the people in the Republican party are trying to destroy everything in my career. So I cannot stand by it.”
And he sincerely, deeply believes that, as he wrote on Facebook in 2016, “Online Creators [sic] can make a much greater impact to the society than they have been, and eventually become the beacon of the Western Culture.”
When I asked Tsang about that quote, he doubled down. Kids in high school “don’t know the traditional celebrities anymore,” he insisted. “They know the people from online… [Online influencers] are becoming mainstream. When people discover stars, it’s really from social media now.”
So with his political savvy, a taste for the nightlife, and a near-messianic belief in the importance of viral stars, it makes perfect sense that when Tsang met Waldrip at a birthday party for a fellow social media influencer in Los Angeles last month, they hit it off.
I don’t want anything regular. You can see that I’m not a regular person at all.
“When we met, we just clicked,” Tsang told me about that initial meeting. “She’s someone that I want to work with because she’s interesting.” He hammered on that last word, “interesting,” using it half-a-dozen times in as many sentences.
He decided to work with her because “I don’t want anything regular. You can see that I’m not a regular person at all.” And what exactly does he do for his “crazy, but very nice” client?
“I take meetings and stuff,” he says. “Right now I’m sending emails and arranging the operation. Anything else she needed me to do, I do it. Basically, I’m the gatekeeper.”
It was in talking about his day-to-day responsibilities—even before we’d broached the contentious topic of his star client’s race—that I started to figure out what’s going on. Harry Tsang is not some kind of evil mastermind, selling America’s twisted racial attitudes back to itself through a funhouse mirror for profit. He’s not a trans-racial would-be revolutionary, trying to blow up the historical and cultural realities of race in America a la Rachel Dolezal. In fact, he didn’t have any good answers, or any answers at all, about why he was working with Waldrip. He just knew how she could make it big. “The only way [people] get famous is really because you’re interesting and there’s some kind of drama,” he told me.
He recognized his client had some qualities that could lead to fame, and didn’t seem interested in anything else. Questions that challenged anything about his new cash cow were met with denial or a terse refusal to comment.
What about her song dissing YouTube star RiceGum that uses an anti-Asian slur as its hook? How does he, as someone of Chinese descent, feel about working for a woman who blithely raps, “Ching-chong, ching-chong, ching-chong, bitch/Meow/I don’t eat no cat, bitch”?
“If she’s anti-Asian, I would not be here talking to you on behalf of her.”
And Waldrip’s frequent use of the n-word?
“Her boyfriend is black… Sometimes she isn’t politically correct, but she is not racist.”
What if she’s lying about her race?
“It doesn’t matter to me at all.”
Waldrip is, of course, almost certainly lying about her race. That is, if you can call an ever-shifting set of stories “lying.” It’s more like a bad game of improv.
One minute, her dad didn’t know who his parents were—or a variation she sometimes uses, that her dad’s “not white.” Neither part of that appears to be true, and the first is definitely a lie. Waldrip’s dad Steve actually ran a business with his late father Marvin; Marvin’s wife, Steve’s mother Louise, passed away in 2016. Both, by all available evidence, were white.
Another time, Waldrip’s tale was that her mother, despite appearing white, was actually mixed race—this was the story Waldrip told Tsang. A few minutes of online research, though, shows that Waldrip’s mother Carla Johnson had two parents who by all indications appear to be white, both of whose obituaries claim Waldrip as a grandchild.
Waldrip at one point appeared on camera with a black woman whom she incorrectly described as her mother, and at a different point with a black woman she described, again wrongly, as her sister. She once said she had a black sister with whom she shared biological parents. In a sort of climax of shifting stories, during her No Jumper interview she said one minute that she had no siblings, and the next that she had a sister who was disabled. [Waldrip does have one sibling, a decade older half-sister by a Colombian mother. Attempts to reach her for more information were unsuccessful.]
In the middle of all of these shifting rationales, there was an online rebuttal from Vicky’s boyfriend, Instagram star Jon “Lil Rot” Jenkins, f/k/a Papii JJ. Jenkins said that Vicky was not only white (“You’re not black. Stop trying to be black… I got footage of everything, your mom”), but part of a wealthy suburban family from nowhere near Zone 6. “She live in a freakin’ mansion,” he says at one point, incredulously.
It is Jenkins’ brother Josiah who connects us to the weirdest part of a very bizarre story: Lil Tay.
Lil Tay, for anyone who has the good fortune not to know already, is the “youngest flexer of the century”: a 9-year-old girl who makes videos where she throws money at the camera and brags how her hard work has moved her from the slums to an ocean view in just three years. That’s right—she says she started “moving bricks” when she was 6.)
Tsang told me that Josiah Jenkins, who originally came to public notice via Vine, was his connection to Lil Tay.
“I have no idea how they [Josiah and Lil Tay] met, to be honest,” Tsang said. “But I can tell you this: He is the one that makes everything happen. He knows the magic—that’s what I call it.”
Tay frequently appears in videos and photos with Waldrip and Jenkins, separately and together, and was famously by Waldrip’s side during her run-in with Bhad Bhabie—an incident that Tsang had to manage the aftermath of, including playing a major part in Waldrip’s response video:
The manager hints at big deals in the making with Lil Tay (“There’s something happening I cannot even say. The whole situation is complicated”), and says that he has “helped her out on one or two projects.” (You can see Tay hit him in the face with a pie in this video.) Tsang explains, however, that he talks to the whole Jenkins family “every day,” and that Josiah, Joe, and the crew are heavily involved in the ongoing series of prank videos starring the happy couple of Woah Vicky and Lil Rot.
So now that Harry Tsang is guiding the career of one of our most controversial social media stars, what’s next? As it turns out, making the controversial Woah Vicky a little less controversial.
“[I’m going to] bring her more brand deals and legitimize her image,” he told me. “That’s why I’m around, because I know how to do it. Just clean it up a little bit.”
And, despite his claim to have no feelings, he seems ecstatic that he’s finally found a job that allows him to use all of what he’s experienced throughout his unusual career path.
“I’m using every single skill that I learned from the past,” he explains. “My client is a controversial figure, and you have to have a thick skin to do your job.” He’s trying “to be as professional as possible” through all the controversy. “Sometimes I can do something, sometimes I cannot,” he said philosophically.
When it comes to the present, Tsang mentioned endless “business meetings” and branding deals, of course. But when I asked where he sees Waldrip in the future, he lit up.
“She could be on a reality TV show on either MTV or VH1, I don’t know which one yet. It’s gonna happen.”
And music? Will she have a Cardi B-like rise to music stardom? He jumped in before I finished my sentence.
“Yep,” he said excitedly. “Later on, maybe in a few months. Something is in planning right now that I cannot even tell you.”
When asked to sum up who he is and where he’s at, Harry Tsang, true to form, circled back to his favorite word.
“I’m an interesting person, because I’m surrounded by a lot of people that are interesting. That makes me interesting.”