This is Going Viral: A space where the internet’s biggest stars share what it’s like to find fame online.
The internet has a new niece. If you are like most people and find yourself scrolling through different social media apps every day, there is a chance you have already seen videos of Savannah “VanVan” McConneaughey.
If you’re not familiar with her yet, the 4-year-old has been going viral across platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, thanks to her on-the-spot freestyling and tiny dance moves that are captivating millions of people. (She currently has 144,000 followers on Instagram and 130,000 on TikTok, while her videos are raking in millions of views.)
While VanVan is the talent, her dad, Reggie McConneaughey, and mom, Tikenjna McConneaughey, are the masterminds behind the operation. They were quick to recognize their daughter’s sharp mind and hilarious personality and captured those moments on video for all to see. The family’s love for music is the little one’s main source of inspiration. One of her first viral videos was of her confidently singing in church, while her most recent ones are of her coming up with age-appropriate raps as her dad plays her a beat. She also has her first single, "Play Outside Every Day,” and a new movie, on the way.
“My name is VanVan, I like to rap/by 2 o’clock I take a nap,” she says while doing a two-step in a viral clip that currently has more than a million views. “I eat a snack and I roll over/I like to draw with my crayolas.” (She gave Complex a shoutout in one of her rhymes after this interview.) VanVan is naturally funny, but she’s also a small child who gets a bit shy when speaking to strangers—and that’s normal and doesn’t take away from her talent. During a call with her and her parents, the young girl names fellow internet sensation That Girl Lay Lay as one of her main influences, as well as Beyoncé and Lizzo.
Her parents, who are currently expecting their second child, tell Complex that they are learning on the go how to best maximize VanVan’s viral moment and convert it into a lifelong acting career. “I want to make sure I don’t miss anything for her because I want her to get every opportunity that she can and capitalize any way that she can as far as growing in the industry or growing as a child sensation,” her father tells Complex. “It’s funny, I was just talking to my wife, I’m like, ‘You ready for this if this takes off? It’s a lot.’”
Being a child star isn’t easy, but the family is aware. Other children have gone viral on social media and they reach incomparable levels of fame and recognition that come with side effects like pressure to produce and exhaustion. VanVan’s parents are making sure that they maintain their daughter’s innocence as they navigate this business and new territory as a family by paying attention to her needs.
“We listen to her because we don’t want to push her into something and she doesn’t even want to do this,” her mom tells Complex. “We know she wants to be an actress. We know that she likes to dance and sing and be an entertainer. We are going to continue to push her as much as she wants to be pushed.”
Interviewing a 4-year-old isn’t easy, but Complex caught up with VanVan and her parents and they told us all about their daughter’s overnight viral success. Check out the rest of our interview with the McConneaugheys, where they opened up about VanVan’s sudden rise to fame, how they choose the best opportunities for her, their goal to be on Abbott Elementary, and the projects she already has in the works.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Can you guys tell me when you realized that the content and the videos you were sharing were starting to pick up steam?
Reggie McConneaughey: We’ve been shooting content for a while but not really on TikTok. We just joined TikTok. People have been telling me, “Hey, did you get on TikTok?” I was trying to capitalize on one social media brand at a time. I started out on Instagram and she reached over 100,000 followers.
We were just doing skits at first and we did some music here and there, but I was like, “I wonder what that TikTok audience really likes and what they were looking for?” So that’s when we put that first video when she sang in church. And then that’s when we were in the room one day, I threw on a beat and I was like, “Vannah, what are you going to say to this?” And that’s when she came up with that, “Playing outside every day.” And then that’s when it started.
What kind of music are you guys listening to at home that has really inspired this young talent and especially the freestyling?
Savannah McConneaughey: I like to listen to Lay Lay and Beyoncé.
Yeah, Beyoncé? What is your favorite Beyoncé song right now?
SM: It’s “Brown Skin Girl.”
Tikenjna McConneaughey: We like a little hip-hop, a little gospel, a little R&B. I know you like Lizzo a little bit. She likes Lizzo.
SM: Yeah, I love Lizzo.
That’s a good one. Have you all been recognized on the street yet?
RM: Oh my God. Yes. Every time I go somewhere, “Oh, there goes Van...” So my new name is VanVan’s dad. That’s our nickname now. I think I’m going to change all my profiles to that because that’s my name now. But every time she goes somewhere people want to take pictures, they want to get an autograph, they want something. It’s mind-boggling. I never thought that it would get to this point, but it’s mind-boggling.
I saw a post from when VanVan was 2 years old and you were like, “She’s always been funny.” When did you know, “Oh, this kid is special?”
TM: I think, when she was born, of course everybody thinks their child is special. Of course, when she was born we was like, “Oh my God.” But then when we just started seeing her develop quickly and just learn different things at a faster rate, it was like, “Oh my gosh, she might be a genius.”
And so then she got to the age where she would start dancing and I was like, before she could pretty much walk, it was like she would stand up on the bed. We have a video where she pulls herself on the bed and she’s dancing. I think that we knew early on that she was a star to us, and now to the world.
How does it feel for you, VanVan, to know that millions of people are watching your videos?
SM: It feels so good.
That’s great. Is she in school yet?
TM: It’s funny. She’s going to a private school and so she had to do an interview for the school. After the interview they came out and was like, “She did really well.” And after they told her she did really well, she just started dancing. I think they know already this is going to be a fun year for them coming up. Yeah, she’s a dancer and she’s an entertainer. She loves it.
I see a lot of kids that go viral and then they become these little internet sensations. Are there any apprehensions for you as her parents doing this kind of content with her?
TM: Yes. I just want her to keep her innocence just like most parents would. Just to maintain her innocence and try to shield her from things that we know are in the industry and then stuff that we are not even privy to. So I think that just trying to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the world will help us to shield her from certain things.
But we know that certain things will come to light for her and then she’ll ask questions and just being able to explain things to her because you can’t just give her a bogus answer. You have to really give her an answer that she’ll understand and that’s honestly a grown-up answer. We, of course, would have a little bit of apprehension, but I just think that if we just stay up-to-date with what’s going on, we’ll try to shield her as much as we can.
Have you guys been seeing a lot more brands reaching out in regards to her working with her? And how are you balancing all of that?
RM: It’s a lot. Me and her mom work full-time jobs. And me running all her social media sometimes, I just thank God that I’m able to check because at first I wasn’t checking her inbox because I was just letting her content grow. But it’s almost a must that I check it every day or I miss something.
I want to make sure I don’t miss anything for her because I want her to get every opportunity that she can and capitalize any way that she can as far as growing in the industry or growing as a child sensation. It is a lot. It’s funny that I was just talking to my wife, but I’m like, “You ready for this if this takes off? What I’m doing right now? It’s a lot.”
VanVan, I also read that you want to be an actress. Is that true?
RM: She actually did a movie already. She was in the movie with Jamal Woolard, who played Biggie (Notorious, 2009). Clifton Powell was in the movie as well. The premiere for that, we go down in July. They are going to have a red carpet event. The name of the movie is Crossover: The Revenge. They already had one before. It’s called Crossover. You can watch it on Tubi. The director [D’Aja Fulmore] reached out to her because she saw her content as well. She was like, “I got to have her in my movie.”
That’s so exciting. Congratulations, VanVan. You’re a movie star.
SM: I am.
What kind of movies do you like? What’s your favorite movie and what kind of TV shows would you like to be in now and even when you’re older?
SM: My favorite movie is just Lay Lay, that’s all. Yeah, because I have a Lay Lay room. And I love Abbott Elementary. I don’t have an Abbott Elementary room though.
She’s throwing hints. [Laughs.] Mom and dad, the world can be a little bit daunting right now. How does it make you feel to know you’re creating content with your child that’s helping bring people joy in this time?
RM: Man, it makes us feel good, man. Just wanting people to know that we do this just for the love and just out of enjoyment. I’ve been recording Vannah since she was a baby, just catching every moment because these are the moments that I wasn’t able to, that my parents didn’t have for me.
Now, if we are just laying in the room, she’d be like, “Daddy, can I look at my videos from when I was a baby?” And she gets joy out of that just looking at herself when she was a baby. I love that everybody is getting to see what we see every day.
What I love the most is just the dance moves and the singing and the rapping. Do you come up with those freestyles on the spot, VanVan?
SM: My dad just puts on a beat and I just start rapping.
RM: You want me to be honest, I just throw on a beat. I just throw a subject out there and I just want to see what her vocabulary looks like. And that’s one reason why I started doing it because I just wanted to see what her vocabulary was, how good she could put stuff in a sentence…
TM: But in a fun way.
RM: In a fun way. And it actually helped her because when she went to take her test for school, she scored so high in that part. They were amazed at how high she scored just from memory and doing other things. And that’s been really helping her because I know… I’m a teacher, so I know it takes different ways for kids to learn. And she loves music and that’s what she likes to listen to, music. It doesn’t matter what it is… Cocomelon when she was a toddler, Lay Lay, Beyoncé. Just a bunch of different things.
VanVan, what would you say to all the people that watch your videos and comment on your videos and show so much love to you and everything that you’re sharing on social media?
SM: I just say, “Like and subscribe to my videos.” I love them and they’re so sweet to me. I love them and I will thank them for watching my videos.
How does it make you feel to see everybody embracing her so much and supporting her?
TM: I think it’s mind-blowing. At first, it catches you by surprise when people are posting comments and stuff, some of the comments are just hilarious. And then some of them are like, “You just made my day.” “I love to listen to her videos,” or wait for the next video to drop like you were saying. So it’s just really mind-blowing for us. It’s surreal for us.
People are calling her the “internet’s niece.” Everybody’s rooting for her to make it. As parents, choosing what she does next and choosing what opportunity she takes on, I’m sure, is the most challenging part of it. How are you making sure that you choose the right opportunities for her?
RM: Pray about it. Just make sure we pray about it
TM: We’re very spiritual so definitely praying about it. Making sure that we are also listening to what she says. She may not know some of the brands or the outlets that we speak to, but after we educate her on them or we’ll show like, “Hey look, this is where somebody so-and-so is on,” and stuff like that. And if she’s like, “Yeah, I’m ready to do it.”
We listen to her as well because I feel like we don’t want to push her into something and she doesn’t even want to do this. We know she wants to be an actress. We know that she likes to dance and sing and be an entertainer. We are going to continue to push her as much as she wants to be pushed.
Does she ever give you any pushback when it comes to filming a video? Or is she always just excited to do it?
RM: If she’s sleepy.
TM: Well, she’s 4. She’s very smart, very intelligent, but at the same time, she’s 4 years old, so sometimes she is going to be in a little funk like, “OK, I’m tired.” But other than that, she’s pretty much ready to go. She wakes up talking like, “OK, what are we doing?” It’s crazy. Yeah, she wakes up ready.
What’s interesting and special about Van is that there’s so much she can do. She can do music. She can do acting. She can do comedy, because she’s a very funny kid. What are your hopes for the future for her?
TM: I think collectively, I think that we would love to see her in acting. I think that, again, she can do pretty much anything. I think she would enjoy acting just like how she looks up to some of her, like Lay Lay, she likes Lay Lay.
Lay Lay got the opportunity to be an actress and still a rapper and still a singer, entertainer. I think that she would like to be an actress/entertainer, but I’m sure I think she would like to do the acting piece most.
You can do it because there are millions of people out there that are rooting for you to be everything you want to be.
SM: Thank you.
How has social media and this viral fame that you have found, changed your dynamic as a family, if it has? Or how has it changed your relationship with each other and with Van also?
RM: I left work early. That’s how it changed. Anything that’s dealing with my daughter, I want to take every… Like I told you earlier, I don’t want to miss the opportunity for her and that can wait. I’ll go back to work tomorrow. They’ll see me tomorrow. School is almost over. They’re all right. I want to make sure she gets these moments because when she looks back years from now, she’ll be like, “Wow, I had an interview with Complex Magazine. That’s amazing.”
I mean, a lot of people can’t say that. And then you look and it’s just a lot of things that she has going on that she doesn’t really understand at this present moment. When she gets a little older and she really steps into that world, she’s going to be like, “Wow, this is amazing.”