From drug addict to social media star. How this mother of 3 turned her life around and became a Facebook sensation.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series EastIdahoNews.com is calling “Social Media Stars.” Every day this week, we’ll be speaking with average Americans who made it big on YouTube and Facebook.
Her videos make you laugh, make you cry and have gained her over 3.7 million Facebook followers in just two years.
Meet Tiffany Jenkins, a mother of three from Sarasota, Florida, and the woman behind “Juggling the Jenkins.”
“I started doing the videos in 2017. I had always dreamed of being an actress, and I loved dressing up and putting on plays,” Jenkins tells EastIdahoNews.com. “So I put a video out there just for fun, and I was amazed at the response I got. For the first time in my life, I was being accepted for my weirdness.”
At the time, her Facebook page had 132 likes, but a few weeks later, the page exploded when one of her videos went viral.
“It was about ‘Mom Groups’ on Facebook, and I was acting out the different characters that you find inside these mommy support groups,” Jenkins recalls. “It started getting shared in groups all over the place, and people started coming and liking the page, and it just grew so fast.”
Jenkins is funny, relatable and very honest in her videos. She’s open about her drug and alcohol addiction that began during her senior year of high school.
“Everything was normal and wonderful. I had goals and aspirations, and then I took a sip of alcohol, and it was over,” she says. “There was a part of me I never knew existed, and it came out when I drank, and I was numb.”
Jenkins dropped out of high school and says the next 10 years were a blur. She did anything to hide her addition and started stealing to get her drug fix.
At age 27, Jenkins was arrested and booked into jail on 17 felonies. She remembers the date clearly: Nov. 26, 2012.
Addicted, miserable and hopeless, Jenkins tried to end her life while incarcerated. Three days in, she was placed on suicide watch. She wanted to end it all but, as her body began to detox, she realized she could now have a second chance at life.
After 120 days, she went to a residential treatment center for six months and then moved into a halfway house. That’s where she met her future husband, Drew.
“Going to jail was the most dehumanizing experience of my life. I felt lower than a person, lower than an animal. (But) jail was the intervention that I needed,” Jenkins says. “It’s the best gift I’ve ever been given.”
Jenkins began waitressing and eventually got married. She and Drew now have a 3, 4 and 8-year-old.
When her first video went viral in 2017, she quickly learned she was making a difference in the life of strangers.
“I started getting personal emails from people thanking me and saying, ‘Because of you, you saved my life,'” Jenkins says. “I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s because these people had been isolated in their addiction and depression, and they had nowhere to turn. (They) said, ‘If she can do this, I can do this.'”
Jenkins has since quit her part-time job at a carpentry business and now runs “Juggling the Jenkins” full-time. She’s written a book called “High Achiever” and toured the country this year with live stage shows sharing her story.
“I’m constantly trying to evolve and think of new ways to stay relevant, and it’s exhausting,” Jenkins says with a smile. “My life is a roller coaster. I have no clue what I’m doing. I didn’t sign up for this. I started making videos for fun and now all of a sudden it’s a career, and I’m like, ‘What? I didn’t even graduate high school!'”
Jenkins, who was voted class clown as a child, now makes enough money from her Facebook and YouTube pages to support her family, but she says she’s far from a millionaire and they’re renting their home.
She’s learned one of the harshest parts about running a public channel is the nasty comments left from viewers.
“People forget we’re humans and that we have feelings and emotions and they talk about you like you’re not there,” she says. “I can not fathom what it is like to feel the need to jump on someone else’s post or photo or thought that they shared and just spew negativity? To me, it’s the equivalent of showing up to somebody’s birthday party that they weren’t invited to and just ripping down streamers and kicking over tables. Everybody else is having a good time, why do you have to ruin it?”
Jenkins says she still can’t believe how far “Juggling the Jenkins” has come, and over the next five years, she hopes to accomplish a lot more.
“I would love to write another book. I would love to continue touring, and I would absolutely love to play a weird large friend on a funny sitcom,” she says with a laugh. “I also want to own a home but with a huge bathtub that I can fit in because I can’t fit in any bathtub.”
She adds, “The whole internet knows what a wackadoodle I am and they’re cool with it. It is the most freeing feeling in the world.”
WATCH OUR ENTIRE CONVERSATION WITH TIFFANY JENKINS HERE