| 13.8°C Belfast

Millions view Northern Ireland teen's TikTok videos thanks to chance US meeting with internet star Alexander the Great




Freddie Parkinson


A Northern Ireland teenager has become an overnight internet star after a chance meeting while on holiday in America.

Annaleigh Johnston (15) was walking along a street in San Francisco with her dad Michael when she was approached by famous internet vlogger Alexander the Great, aka Alexander Stemptewski.

The American photographer has amassed more than 70m likes for his viral videos aimed at making strangers into stars.

Annaleigh, from the Ormeau Road in Belfast, who follows the photographer online, caught his eye while walking through Union Square in his home city of San Francisco. The Wellington College pupil agreed on the spot to be filmed and made two short videos which immediately went viral.

She has since become known as 'The Shush Girl' after she was caught on camera telling her dad to "shush".

The first was viewed 9.9m times on Alexander the Great's TikTok channel in just a couple of days, while the second was watched an astonishing 13.5m times.

Stemptewski knew he had a star on his hands and rang Annaleigh and asked her to do another video shoot before she left for home last Sunday.


Welcome to Nerve... with strangers. ##streetphotography ##nerve ##photography @annaleighjohnston @smokybombs @man_jakelitt

welcome to nerve - xdelighzoe

He has since posted two more videos, the last just five days ago and already it has 12m views. Michael, who at first was naturally dubious when the stranger approached his daughter in the street and asked to photograph her, said the experience still felt surreal for both of them.

He said: "I had no idea who this guy was but Annaleigh recognised him because she follows him online. He is famous for approaching strangers and making videos of them.

"He says he noticed Annaleigh because of what she was wearing.

"She had plain black jogging bottoms on but she was also wearing a grey pair of jogging bottoms which she had cut the legs out of and turned into a cardigan, which he thought was unique.

"When he started to say about her clothes I thought he was crossing the line and Annaleigh told me to 'shush daddy', because she knew who he was.

"He filmed her in a side street which he had got closed off and at one point had her lying on the ground. I offered to give her a coat to lie on and again she told me to shush.

"When he posted the first video everyone commented on her telling me to shush which Alexander picked up on and he then called her The Shush Girl in the next three videos."

Annaleigh hopes to maintain her new profile by shooting her own videos promoting Northern Ireland.

She was stunned to return home last week to discover she was the talk of her home town.

"It was amazing to get to go to San Francisco and then to meet Alexander the Great and be in one of his videos has just made it unforgettable," she said.


Love her or hate her... she is The “Shush” Girl @annaleighjohnston ##photographyeveryday ##nerve ##photo

welcome to nerve - xdelighzoe

"I recognised his voice even before I saw his face and when he asked if I would do a 15 minute video I couldn't believe it.

"I had followed him on TikTok where he is one of the biggest names and it was amazing, you don't get stopped by a famous photographer every day."

Annaleigh has seen the popularity of her own TikTok videos soar since the launch of The Shush Girl.

Before her holiday she had around 14 likes on her videos and since returning home her latest video has registered an incredible 961,400 likes.

She added: "My friends have been very supportive and are very proud of me and have told me to keep it going before it all dies, so that's what I hope to do."

Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.

Already have an account?

Belfast Telegraph