A ‘Polar Express’ Character Comes to Life

“Oh my God! You’re the woman from ‘The Polar Convey,’” a vacationer yelled at Nia Wilkerson.

Dressed in a pink nightgown, Ms. Wilkerson was dancing in entrance of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Centre in Midtown Manhattan for a TikTok online video.

Over the class of the up coming two hrs on Monday afternoon, dozens extra people stopped and stared. Several of them filmed her from afar or questioned to just take selfies with her.

“Wait, are you actually the woman from the film?” a passer-by requested.

The respond to to that concern is no. Ms. Wilkerson, a senior at St. John’s University in Queens, was 3 decades old in 2004, when “The Polar Express” was produced.

The movie, a box place of work strike directed by Robert Zemeckis that was centered on a children’s guide by Chris Van Allsburg, has extensive drawn criticism simply because of its manufacturer of motion-seize animation, which gives its characters an eerie, zombified search.

Ms. Wilkerson, 22, reported that at any time considering the fact that she was an elementary faculty student in Woodbridge, Va., persons had been telling her she appears to be like Hero Female, a character in the film who is also recognized as Holly. Later, a substantial university crush pointed out the resemblance.

“That was heartbreaking,” she joked.

Due to the fact then, Ms. Wilkerson, who stands 5 foot tall, has occur to embrace her electronic doppelgänger. This is the fourth holiday break period she has invested producing TikTok video clips in the guise of Hero Lady. Each and every calendar year, her acceptance has grown. She now has nearly a 250,000 followers.

Ms. Wilkerson stated she received the thought just after observing a different lady on TikTok cosplaying as the character. “But she didn’t really search like her,” she mentioned.

In “The Polar Express,” Holly wears pigtails and a patterned pink nightgown. Ms. Wilkerson goes with a variation on the glimpse for her TikToks.

“It’s a seasonal gig,” she explained, including that she was a short while ago swarmed by persons in Elmo costumes even though producing a video clip in Periods Square.

Accompanying her on Monday have been many of her St. John’s classmates, who acted as her unpaid film crew. “My friendship is my payment,” Ms. Wilkerson joked, adding she experienced bought the group food stuff at the campus eating corridor all through the weeks of filming.

She utilized to experience from social stress and anxiety, she explained, but her TikTok alter moi has helped her overcome it. “No a person in New York cares,” she mentioned. “I would hardly ever do this anyplace else.”

Ms. Wilkerson, who is finding out television and movie at St. John’s, has uncovered methods to profit from her 15 minutes of seasonal fame. She participates in TikTok’s creator fund, a method that the corporation takes advantage of to pays sure persons who make videos for the system, she explained. Musicians have achieved out to her about earning movies, she included. Her price is about $250 per movie, she stated. Outside of the holiday break period, she makes video clips on other subject areas, but her sights drop off precipitously.

When most of the feedback has been favourable, Ms. Wilkerson claimed she no longer read the replies to her movies, after acquiring observed too lots of racist reviews. Continue to, there have been upsides to her social media fame, like a the latest collaboration with @jerseyyjoe, a well-liked TikTok creator identified for his dance moves who at times would make movies dressed as Hero Boy from “The Polar Convey.”

After an afternoon of capturing, Ms. Wilkerson and her friends talked about their approaching remaining tests even though waiting around for an F train on a subway station system. Ms. Wilkerson mentioned an before subway video clip, through which she had unintentionally kicked a passenger.

After boarding a hurry-hour train motor vehicle, they wriggled into development to movie a further TikTok. One particular of Ms. Wilkerson’s good friends, Amanda Gopie, 20, pointed at a signal that study: “Don’t be someone’s subway story. Courtesy counts.”

“That’s you,” Ms. Gopie explained, to laughs from the other people in the group.

As the F educate rolled toward Queens, Ms. Wilkerson and her buddies recorded themselves singing “When Xmas Arrives to Town,” a track from “The Polar Express.”

“The greatest time of the yr, when all people will come property,” Ms. Wilkerson began.

As her close friends joined in to kind a shaky refrain, a handful of riders perked their heads up in recognition. One particular instructed the singers to work on their pitch. The team determined they’d try another take.