Tik Tok and the American Dream

Julio Elías Cota

By Bryan Mejia

Photography, a feeling and a story define the 21-year-old Guatemalan influencer Julio Elías Cota, who has surpassed more than 20 million views on TikTok with his posts featuring Big Apple tourists and street vendors.

Cota was born in extreme poverty in Guatemala with seven siblings. His parents were farmers and his only dream was to buy a camera so he could realize his passion of capturing important moments in life.  Several years ago, he emigrated to New York with his brothers to seek a better life and change his sad past.

Two years ago he bought his first camera. Now his posts have begun to go viral on TikTok and he became an influencer among by many U.S. Latinos. One of this videos has 20 million views.”When I made that video I never thought I would reach that much,” says Cota. “At that moment it was 11:30 at night. I saw someone with a good style. I said ‘It’s now or never.’”

Cota took out his microphone quickly and told his friend to record him. His subject didn’t speak Spanish so he started speaking a little in English. The video changed his life because many people started looking for him on the platform.  After the video garnered more than 20 million views, Latino businesses began to hire Cota to work as a private photographer and to do promotions. He was able to buy his first car thanks to photography and his charisma.

Cota’s combination of humility and hard work has inspired many immigrants globally who hope to duplicate his success.  He has a lot of work thanks to his exposure on social networks and can now help his parents in Guatemala financially.

Last year he graduated from high school. Despite language difficulties, he was able to graduate on time.

You can follow Julio on his digital platforms: Tiktok: @Julio_nyc // Instagram: Julio_nyc1


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