Ten Meets Rickey Thompson, The Internet’s Mr Booked and Busy
Chatting with Rickey Thompson felt a bit like cosying up with one of my mates for a chinwag. Come to think of it, I’ve known of Thompson for the same amount of time, if not longer, than some of my dearest friends have been in my life.
I watched him declare “It’s me, Rickey T!” on Vine when I was in secondary school, religiously watched his YouTube rants as I moved into college and, today, like many, will look to his Instagram for a much-needed pick-me-up after another dreaded day trapped indoors.
Behind his charm, charisma and familiarity, it’s easy to forget that this booked and busy 25-year-old has 5.7 million Instagram followers (accompanied by a further 2.4 million on TikTok) – which together is more than the populations of Jamaica and Ireland combined. Still, like the rest of us, he’s failed at keeping a regular lockdown routine. “I get up, do an at-home workout, then I just sit on my couch and I’m literally like, ‘What do I do now?’” He calls me from “Rickey’s pad”, his apartment in LA, where he’s been entertaining the masses with quick-fire dance videos and motivational declarations, peppered with quick wit and an infectious laugh.
If you think there’s an off switch, or a persona that Thompson presents online that deflates when the camera’s off, you’re mistaken. “People always think it’s a character and I’m like, ‘No, this is literally me, this is exactly how I act,’” he says. “I just love making people feel good and I love making people smile and that’s just something I’ve always lived for.” How does he remain so upbeat in these hellish times? Well, he’s gone through something of a cleanse – trimming his friendship group to an intimate number, a core group that he says will always support him. He’s also been bingeing a lot of telly, Sex and the City mostly, and been listening to the pop girls who shaped his adolescence – many of whom are plastered across his impressive wall of noughties posters in his bedroom.
“Oh my goodness, I started this wall in the middle of 2019. I would literally scour Google for months just to find the right posters,” Thompson tells me. Many of the same superstars – Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey – adorned a much smaller shrine in his North Carolina home, where he lived until he was 18. He had his sights set on LA from his early teens – sticking pictures of Santa Monica Pier and the Hollywood sign across his bedroom walls, too. He would even audition for scam acting competitions, with the hope of getting a one-way ticket to the City of Angels.
While the other teens in his town were hanging out at local parties, Thompson was forbidden from going by his mum. So he amused himself with Vine instead, the now-deceased social media platform that allowed you to create snappy, six-second videos. “When I was making Vines I thought no one would ever see them,” Thompson admits. “When I started getting the hang of it, I was posting literally every day, and then I remember I was in my algebra class and some guy pulled up my Vine and said, ‘Yo, is this you?’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, ummm yeah,’ and he was like, ‘Oh wow, you’re so funny, I didn’t know.’ I was a shy kid in school – I literally did not open my mouth.”
Soon enough, Thompson became something of a high-school celeb – “There were freshmen like, ‘You’re Rickey Thompson. Oh my God, you go here?’” – and just after graduating, he finally made his move to LA. “As soon as I got off the plane, I knew this was home,” he says.
Six years later and he’s still there, but is ready for a change. He has his heart set on New York and dreams of eventually making it to London. (He says his favourite thing to do while he’s here is to go clubbing at Soho’s Cirque Le Soir and drunkenly end up in McDonald’s afterwards.)
After spending almost a decade navigating the ever-changing URL world, Thompson is also ready to get offline. “I feel like, now, social media is very fast,” he says. “It was very hard to grow on social media back in the day, people worked their butts off to get to the top. Now if you’re just cute, you got it, it’s so easy now.”
This is the year Thompson is set on taking his career up a notch, with a move into acting at the top of his list. He has also become a bit of a fashion force – turning looks in Prada, Telfar, Mowalola and Ludovic de Saint Sernin across his Instagram. Is launching his own label on the cards? “That is exactly what I’m looking for in the future,” he says. “I don’t want to do fast fashion. I actually want to sit down, design, choose the fabrics, all of that – my clothes are gonna eat!”
To say Rickey Thompson is a household-name-in-the-making is a statement seven years too late. He’s in his own lane. When the rest of the mainstream catches up with him, he will be unstoppable.
Taken from Issue 53 of 10 Men – NO PLACE, LIKE, HOME – is out NOW. Order your copy here.
BOOKED AND BUSY
Photographer Magnus Unnar
Fashion editor Keegan Singh
Text Paul Toner
Grooming Danielle Piersons at Art Department using Babor and Givenchy Beauty
Model Rickey Thompson at Next
Casting Alexandre Junior Cyprien at Creartvt
Fashion assistant Prather Ray
Production Richard Villani
Production assistant Zoe Anastos
Location Tom of Finland Foundation