Premier Gospel’s Cassandra Maria spoke to actor, presenter, comedian and social media sensation Coco Sarel about her rise to fame and her faith in God


Cassandra Maria (CM): How did you get into TikTok, and what did you do before?

Coco Sarel (CS): I trained as an actor at university and I was working as a jobbing actor before focusing on social media.

I started making content because of the pandemic. My little sister convinced me to get TikTok, and my friends were also saying: “There’s really funny content on there.” So, I was like: “You know what, I’ll give it a go,” mainly to connect with my sister. She’d come in with all these new TikTok dances. I’d be like: “Let me learn some moves and all that fun stuff.” I had thought I was too old for TikTok, but that quickly changed. It’s like a vacuum; it consumes you. Scrolling through, I saw people talk about stuff that I thought: “Oh, I have an opinion on that.”

I was actually in the rehearsal room for a play when the pandemic was announced. After ten days of rehearsals I was suddenly jobless, living at my parent’s house. And I decided: “I’m just gonna pick up my camera, and start talking about stuff that I want to talk about.”

A lot of my content was actually around the political state we were in at the time. I would just pick up my phone, have a rant and it started to slowly build traction. 

CM: I think one of the first videos that I saw was a political one, and I thought: “Oh, this is good.” Everyone has different obstacles on their journey: what obstacles have you had to overcome to get to where you are now?

My mum will sometimes text me, and she’ll be like: “Stop it, nip that in the bud now” and I’m like: “OK, yes, ma’am. Sorry. I apologise.”

CS: I think my biggest obstacle is just trying to stay as authentic to myself as possible. If what I am doing starts to feel like it’s impeding on my mental health or my relationships, I usually pull back and my followers are aware of that. Sometimes there will be a week where I have downtime because there’s nothing for me to talk about. I never want to get into a cycle where I confuse reality and social media. 

CM: What experience has impacted your journey the most? 

CS: There was a day where I woke up to find I had been reposted by a group on Instagram. I was on about 3,000 followers, and overnight I gained 50,000 followers from them reposting me! That was one of the craziest things I have ever experienced in my life. The comments were like a showering of love and appreciation and people understanding my kooky sense of humour. 

CM: How do you strike the balance between your faith and your content? 

CS: It’s a constant conversation I’m having with God. I think the most important thing for me is understanding what my relationship with God looks and feels like, and navigating from that point. I will say there are moments where I’m super connected, and I feel me and him are one. And there are times where I feel really disconnected and struggle. But through it all, the consistent factor is that God is in my life. My favourite scripture that I live by is Matthew 6:33: “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. I understand that God has given me talents and gifts etc but, at the end of the day, I’ve been put onto the earth as a vessel. 

There is a difference between religion and relationship

I trust in God wholeheartedly. I always speak about God, I feel passionate when I talk about God and my relationship with him, but finding a balance is hard. I don’t know if I’m finding it. All I know is I’m saying: “Here I am Lord, use me.” And that’s it. I surrender. 

CM: Have you faced any criticisms from Christians? 

CS: I feel like God wouldn’t have given me these talents if I wasn’t meant to do it. Hell wasn’t meant to use them. People say: “Don’t be an actor”, but there is a way of navigating those spaces and still being true to your faith. There is a difference between religion and relationship. I think religion is keeping up appearances, trying to look a certain way to other people. I think relationship is an understanding that when God tells me: “No” I hear no, and when God says: “Yes”, I hear yes. My strive is just always to be able to hear his voice. Then, whatever decision I make, I know I’m making it based off of the foundation that I have God in me. That’s the way I navigate.

But yeah, my mum will sometimes text me, and she’ll be like: “Stop it, nip that in the bud now” and I’m like: “OK, yes, ma’am. Sorry. I apologise.”


CM: You said that sometimes you don’t feel as connected to God? In those moments what do you do to connect again? 

CS: I love worship music, and I think that’s the quickest way for me to feel more connected to God. And I love reading the Word. You can read the same passage, the same scripture, the same chapter over and over and over again, and there’ll be a new revelation each time. It’s crazy, because often, in the moment, that’s what I need to hear. Going to physical church is also very important to me; I have to be in the house of God.

CM: What is the gospel track that comes on and you’re like: “This is it?”

CS: If I hear ‘You are Alpha and Omega,’ I respond with: “Just give me a sec. I got to be with my Lord and saviour.”

Growing up we listened to a lot of hymns in the car. I remember as a kid, I’d be hitting my head against the head rest, saying: “Get me out of this car.” Now I gravitate to those songs, such as ‘Great is thy faithfulness’. Don’t get me wrong, I love a song that’s four lines, and repeats over and over again, but there’s something about hymns. Each line means something. It’s almost like a prayer and song. 

CM: How have you found your team and how did faith play a part in picking the people that are going to help you with your movement?

CS: Before social media I was an actor, so I’ve been in the thing of trying to find an agent. It was one of the first miracles in my life. I was at drama school, a guest speaker came in to speak, talking about management and agencies and how to get one and when to ask them questions. At the end of it, he came up to me and shook my hand and said: “Lovely to meet you, keep doing what you’re doing, don’t give up.” The next day, I got called into the dean’s office, and she said: “The guy who came in yesterday really loved your energy and has asked to have a meeting with you. He’s thinking of taking you on.”

Now, that man did not look at me for that long. There was a group of like 30 of us in the room; I shook his hand for maybe 20 seconds.

That was the moment where I was like: “This is what people mean when they say the favour of God.” In that whole process, everything felt right. I went and had my meeting and it was great. He was a brilliant agent and we had a great working relationship.

What that taught me was, number one, sometimes God’s voice is like a feeling. If things feel like you’re at peace with the situation you keep going, right? 

When it came to finding my new management, they reached out to me via Instagram, saying: “We love your content. Can you come in?” I already had a manager at the time, but we were both part time and I wasn’t taking social media seriously. I’d been praying to God because I was in two minds about continuing. I remember having that constant back and forth for months. And then I had a meeting with my potential new management and it felt right again. I am a firm believer that when my spirit and my soul are at peace God is telling me: “This is the right thing.” 

Follow Coco on @cocosarel