This TikTok Star Has One Hell of a Kick — Playing Footy, That Is
POPSUGAR has partnered with AFLW to celebrate women in sport and their impact beyond the field.
Maddi Newman is perhaps the most famous AFLW player you’ve never heard of.
The Adelaide winger may have had a breakout season in 2023, but being a part of the all-conquering Crows team is not Newman’s biggest claim to fame. “Whenever I go out in public I do get recognised for TikTok but no one actually knows I play for the Crows,” Newman laughed. “I feel like it’s such a shock to people when we say ‘Maddi plays footy’, they’re always like ‘what?’.”
Along with twin sister Hallie, Newman has a huge TikTok following, with the duo known for their comedy skits featuring characters such as the ‘rich mums’, the ‘unhinged camp instructors’, and the ‘worst customers in the world’.
Their joint account @hallieandmaddi has 169k followers, with their videos amassing nearly 19 million likes collectively.
The clips feature the twins in various wigs and disguises, acting out scenarios such as ‘parent teacher interviews with the rich mum’ and ‘your first F45 class’. While the majority of their viewers aren’t footy fans, the Newman twins do use their platform to promote the competition.
“We just want to spread awareness that girls play footy,” Newman said. “We like to promote the AFLW on the account, I’ve done a few ‘day in the life’ videos and game-day vlogs and whenever I have a game coming up, Hallie and I share that on our Instagram as well.
“I do have a few people at the footy after the games tell me they love the videos, so the Crows fans are getting around it too. The [Adelaide] girls also get around me a fair bit!” While Newman’s double life may seem bizarre, she said the creative outlet has helped her improve as a footballer too.
“A couple of years ago when I wasn’t really getting selected, and I guess I was quite down about footy, I didn’t really have anything else that I was doing on the side that was creative and took my mind off it,” she said. “But I feel like now I’ve got a creative outlet, it helps me switch off from footy and I find that’s helping take my game to the next level because I can switch off, and then when footy mode’s on I can really hone in.
“It’s nice to be creative and have something outside of footy that’s a bit different.”
Missing out on being part of the Crows’ victorious 2022 Grand Final team was a bitter pill for a young Newman to swallow, but gave her the resolve she needed to work to become a settled part of Adelaide’s formidable line-up. “Missing that Grand Final was really tough for me personally,” Newman said. “It drove me forward to become better and work harder that next off-season. I took myself to another level and came out firing for the pre-season, and that was a year ago now, but it’s set me up for my season this year.”
A childhood love of performing laid the foundation for the twins’ social media success, but breaking free from self-consciousness was an important step in turning their comedic abilities into a career. “We’ve been really close our whole lives, and we always enjoyed drama throughout school and making videos when we were kids,” Newman said. “We never took ourselves too seriously, we always just wanted to make people laugh, make our family laugh.
“During high school, Hallie and I always wanted to make videos but we were a bit not sure of ourselves and low on confidence, and we didn’t know what people would think. When you’re in high school you do have a lot of like ‘what does this person think about me?’, but getting out of high school you don’t really see those people anymore and you care less.”
“Coming out of high school and finding our way, we just thought ‘why not make videos and just see how we go?’. Our first comedy skit did really well so we did a few more and they did well too so [success] came really fast.”
The duo don’t script their skits, instead they just take a scenario or an idea of two characters and start filming and see what happens.
“It’s so easy working with your twin, we have the same brain so it doesn’t take us too long to film videos,” Newman said. “When we have an idea it’s like ‘bang’, done. We don’t need a script, we just completely bounce off each other and go with whatever comes into our head. We’ll try and do a scenario and see where it goes, and normally it goes somewhere really wild.”
And the secret to TikTok success?
“Just do something you love, be creative, put your own spin on it. Everyone’s trying to do the same thing, so just try to be yourself and be creative.”