Caitlin Reilly quit showbiz before becoming a pandemic TikTok star

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There’s a big silver lining to TikTok star Caitlin Reilly’s pandemic experience.

In January 2020, the Groundlings alum and struggling actress, 31, was ready to call it a day.

“I had decided to quit acting for a while and get more involved in interior design and real estate,” she told Page Six. “I had started this job as a personal assistant to a real estate agent.”

Then the pandemic hit and Reilly found herself unemployed, living with her mom, and very bored.

“I didn’t have a lot of money and really needed a creative outlet because we were stuck at home,” she explained. “As a struggling actress for many years, you struggle with your passion, and if it’s not happening for you, you are going through other avenues to make money. [TikTok] brought it back to my passion and my dreams.”

In May 2020, Reilly posted a video as the “co-worker you hate during a Zoom meeting,” which went wildly viral to a content-starved and captive audience in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, launching her to TikTok fame. Reilly’s subsequent videos have amassed her a 1.8 million-strong following.

And yes, she knows the tale sounds like a tired Hollywood cliché.

“I call it the Jon Hamm moment. Jon Hamm tells this story about right before he got cast in ‘Mad Men,’ he was really going to give up, and then ‘Mad Men’ changed the trajectory of his life,” she said.

“I would always hear those stories and think, ugh what hogwash, but that legitimately was my timeline.”

And Reilly has at least one non-TikTok job already lined up. She’ll be taking part in a “General Hospital” episode that will pay tribute to her late dad John Reilly, who passed away in January 2021 and was best known for playing Sean Donely on the soap.

Meanwhile, Reilly continues garnering bold-typed fans like Dan Levy, Melissa Gilbert, and Chrissy Teigen for her TikToks.

“Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon follow me, and, I mean, they’re icons,” she says, sounding a little astonished. “One of my idols is Molly Shannon and she follows me on Instagram. I can’t even wrap my head around that one.”

Despite the huge exposure, Reilly is optimistically guarded about her future.

“At the end of the day, these are numbers on the internet. I know I still have a lot of work to do, and planning and auditioning and proving myself,” she explained. “I’m also flabbergasted this has happened but I don’t think my career is made.”

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