Jevin Smith said he was just looking to bring some enjoyment to the lives of himself and his children.
Well, after 55 videos posted on TikTok to an account with more than one million followers, as well as an appearance on the “Today Show,” it’s safe to say that Smith has brought enjoyment to his life, his children’s’ lives and the lives of many others through the power of social media.
Smith, otherwise known as @wealthyjev on TikTok, has spent the past two years posting videos of himself picking up his children from school, but not “as” himself. Instead, Smith picks a famous person to dress up as, usually someone in the music business, and posts video of himself acting as that person.
Many of those videos have been viewed more than a million times each, with a couple hitting over 10 million views.
Smith said it was his son, Jevin Jr., who first suggested the videos. Smith said he’s actually been doing the costumed pickups for longer than two years.
“I’ve been doing it for a long time,” Smith said. “My son, he’s the one who actually got me to record it, and I just showed up at his sister’s school — during the time, they weren’t going to the same school — so my son was like, ‘You know what, this time, you should get out and record it.’ And I was like, ‘Nah, I really don’t feel like it.’ And he was like, ‘Dad, I’m telling you, if you do it, it’ll be amazing, it’ll be funny.’ And I’m like, ‘Alright, great.’ So, I did it and it just took off and it went crazy and everybody started loving it.”
Jevin Jr. and Smith’s second-oldest daughter, Jayna, both go Golden Valley High School, a sophomore and senior, respectively. The videos began to go viral in March 2022, Smith said.
William S. Hart Union High School District governing board member Erin Wilson, who represents Trustee Area No. 4, honored Smith with the One Hart Award at a recent board meeting. She said that Smith represents one of the district’s core values, creativity, and that his creativity in picking up his kids from school has brought more students to want to attend school each day just to see who he will dress up as.
“Higher attendance rates lead to increased financial resources, enabling our district to maintain and improve educational programs, pay our awesome teachers, improve facilities and services for students,” Wilson said. “That is why we frequently discuss ways we might improve (average daily attendance). I would submit to you that today’s recipient, a local district dad, did just that when he came up with a clever way to make school more exciting for his kids. He dresses up as different hip-hop stars and surprises his kids by entertaining them, and, I might add, everyone else who is around who happens to be there at school pick-up time.”
Some of the hip-hop artists that Smith said he had the most fun dressing up as were Andre 3000, Prince and Missy Elliot. He said he gears his characters to be both entertaining and people who students will easily recognize.
The videos have become so popular that Missy Elliot even reposted the one of Smith dressing up as her, Smith said.
Smith doesn’t spend too much time on the videos. His inspiration, he said, is usually random and he tries to put together a costume in about 10 minutes. Other times, he’ll buy something on Amazon, but never anything too complex.
“I think I get the idea and I craft it in my mind and then I just go out and I do it,” Smith said. “So, I have the idea and I may run through it at home and be like ‘OK, I’m gonna do it on this part.’”
As a longtime DJ, Smith said he will “never run out of ideas,” as his knowledge of the music industry is fairly expansive. He said he is able to reuse items from one costume to be part of a different costume.
Many of the ideas come from his own head, but Smith does read some of the comments on his videos asking for something specific. He doesn’t ask for suggestions because, as he said, he doesn’t have to.
“A lot of times, I get so many new followers, people will say ‘do something,’ and it’s something that I’ve already done. I’m like, ‘Hey, check the playlist,’” Smith said.
There isn’t much editing for the videos, as Smith wants them to feel authentic.
While Smith’s daughter is set to graduate from Golden Valley in the spring, his son still has two more years after this one. Smith also has another daughter who attends Pinetree Elementary, so he has many more years of dressing up.
Smith said that he wouldn’t be doing this if it caused his kids to feel embarrassed or made them targets for bullying. In fact, the opposite has happened, he said.
“Actually, it’s been to their advantage,” Smith said. “When I started doing it, my children, they honestly got a little more popular. My daughter won homecoming princess or something like right after, and then my son, he won something for homecoming. So, everybody, they know my children, they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s the girl with the dad.’”
Smith will also pop up at other events in his kids’ lives, even stopping by his oldest daughter’s work.
When asked about his plans for his daughter’s prom at the end of the school year, Smith was coy.
“I showed up to her homecoming, so we’ll see what happens,” Smith said.