Scot Pilie’ was in the first grade when he realized he wanted to be a meteorologist.
Pilie’, now 26, grew up in New Orleans, where hurricanes and severe storms are part of everyday life. The extreme weather inspired him — and it set him on a path that came full circle in 2019.
That’s when Pilie’, three years out of college at the time, got a job on the weather team at WGNO-TV, his hometown’s ABC affiliate station.
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Since then, Pilie’ has become a familiar face back home. He gets recognized on the street; fans send him messages on social media. That’s not bizarre, really: Meteorologists, who appear on almost TV every day, can often become local celebrities.
The difference, though, is that Pilie’ isn’t just a local celebrity. And he’s not just famous for being on TV.
“It’s so strange,” Pilie’ told In The Know. “I’ve had lots of people come up to me who solely recognize me from TikTok. And it’s like, ‘Wait, you didn’t see me on the news … you saw a viral video on TikTok?’”
Pilie’ posted his first TikTok on Sept. 24, 2020. Since then, he’s gained almost 65,000 followers on the app. His videos, which often draw hundreds of thousands of views, feature plenty of wild details about the life of a morning meteorologist.
Pilie’ used to work the evening shift, then, last fall, he got switched to mornings. It was right around the time he started making TikToks about his job — a topic that seemed to really strike a chord with users on the app.
“I don’t think there are a ton of meteorologists that are my age or older on TikTok,” he said. “And I found that there’s such a platform for it on TikTok that there isn’t on Instagram or Facebook or anywhere else.”
For Pilie’, being a meteorologist has been a lifelong goal. But for many people, it’s likely not a job that even crosses their mind on a given day. That seems to be at least one reason that TikTokers are so eager to learn more about Pilie’s job.
Case in point: In one of Pilie’s most popular videos, the 26-year-old explains the “weirdest thing” about his daily routine. That thing, as it turns out, is actually his eating schedule, which features four meals a day and a “Lunch No. 1” at 8:30 a.m.
Another big reason for Pilie’s popularity: his personality. The weatherman seems to have unlimited energy in his videos, whether he’s breaking down his diet or showing off his morning news fit.
That’s not to say he’s never serious, though. Pilie’, who came out during his first weather job after college, speaks often about his experience as an openly gay TV personality.
Pilie’ said he was nervous about coming out at first. At the time, he was working in an unfamiliar town, and he wasn’t sure how viewers would react. But, as time went by, he started to realize how little that worry mattered.
“As I gained confidence in my career, you know, you gain confidence in yourself,” Pilie’ said. “And I really was like, ‘All right, I’m confident in the work that I’m doing and my sexuality should not make a difference to the viewers.’”
Since then, he’s received his share of hateful messages. But, as time goes on — and as Pilie’ becomes more popular — those comments have gotten easier to ignore.
“[Getting more social media followers has] kind of blocked the haters out. If I post a photo and it gets 500 hearts and 18 angry faces, it’s almost like, look, those angry faces will always be there,” he told In The Know.
Those angry faces are also nothing compared to the “inspirational messages” Pilie’ also receives. Sometimes, they’re from LGBTQIA+ students thinking about coming out. Sometimes, they’re from other aspiring newscasters.
One time, which Pilie’ remembers particularly well, the message came from a woman in the town where he had his first job. The mom, whose son was just starting to come out to his family, told Pilie’ — her local weatherman — that he was the first gay man she’d ever known.
“She was telling me that the whole family might not accept him, but she does,” Pilie’ explained. “I think that that one will always stick with me, just because the mom may not have been exposed to someone who was gay — up until knowing me, and then knowing her son.”
Experiences like that are deeply important for Pilie’. They’re also a validation of one of the big reasons for his success: Whether it’s his sexuality, his morning commute or the fact that he drinks 32 ounces of coffee a day, the meteorologist is always ready to share part of himself with others.
When it comes to more serious situations, like a mom accepting her son’s sexuality, Pilie’ recognizes there’s a huge opportunity there.
“I think sometimes you forget that,” Pilie’ said. “You think about the big things, but sometimes it’s the things that people just watching you and knowing a little bit about you [that makes them go], ‘Wow that’s really inspiring.’”
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