Editor’s Word: This text is a part of CNN’s Undivided sequence, which chronicles how Individuals of very completely different backgrounds have discovered frequent floor. On this sequence, which runs by the midterm elections, we profile unlikely friendships between folks of differing ages, races, religions and cultures.
Annie Korzen begins auditions with an announcement most individuals wouldn’t anticipate from an 83-year-old:
“Hello, I’m Annie Korzen. I stay in Los Angeles. I’m 5’3”. And I’ve virtually 400,000 followers on TikTok.”
It nonetheless amazes Korzen, an actor who describes herself as a longtime bit participant who’d struggled to search out a big viewers. Now her TikToks have greater than 8 million likes and 1000’s of supportive feedback. And none of it could have occurred, she says, if it weren’t for an sudden friendship with somebody who’s greater than 50 years youthful.
“Although we have now completely completely different backgrounds in each approach attainable,” she says, “we actually are soulmates.”
Mackenzie Morrison, 31, says she felt drawn to Korzen the second they first met at a charity occasion.
Korzen was magnetic – a grasp storyteller who might make a roomful of individuals snicker. She had an impeccable sense of fashion. And she or he beloved thrift procuring – a pastime Morrison additionally adores.
“Once you meet one other thrifter, you converse the identical language very naturally,” Morrison says.
“She’s very a lot into finding the deal. And I really like whenever you discover one thing simply so odd and attention-grabbing there’s nowhere else you’ll find it besides should you had been thrifting. … That’s what naturally drew us collectively.”
The day they met, neither considered one of them realized a wealthy friendship was taking root.
“Nobody anticipated us to be so shut,” Morrison says.
Their shared love of classic style quickly led to a partnership reselling a few of their favourite thrifting finds on-line.
However it could be greater than a 12 months earlier than they launched into a venture collectively that each ladies describe as “life-changing.”
For years, Korzen was finest identified for appearing in several episodes of Seinfeld as Doris Klompus, a neighbor in Jerry’s dad and mom’ Florida rental advanced. Extra lately, she’s appeared on “Jane the Virgin” and “Pen15,” and he or she’s shared her storytelling expertise on tour with The Moth.
However for probably the most half, the bigger viewers she craved eluded her.
“I’ve all the time been a bit participant,” she says. “I’m the one that is aware of find out how to get fun on one line.”
At some point, Korzen informed Morrison she’d been serious about making an attempt to construct a following by posting movies on Instagram.
Morrison steered her buddy towards TikTok as a substitute and provided to assist shoot and edit the movies.
Neither considered one of them imagined how profitable their foray into TikTok would develop into – although Morrison says there was little question in her thoughts that it was the right platform for Korzen.
“After we began, it was actually identical to two youngsters operating round her home, making movies. There was no plan. We had been simply laughing and having a lot enjoyable,” Morrison says.
That was in April 2021. And it wasn’t lengthy earlier than a TikTok began gaining steam that featured Korzen talking about how working on Seinfeld changed her life. In a matter of weeks, she went from having simply eight followers to almost 200,000.
Korzen and Morrison found they share frequent values, pursuits and an identical humorousness. The age hole is the obvious distinction between them. Nevertheless it’s not the one one. Korzen describes their unlikely friendship as “the world’s oddest couple.”
Korzen is from New York. Morrison is from Los Angeles.
Korzen’s hair is crimson and wild. Morrison’s is brown and straight.
Korzen grew up in a secular Jewish household. Morrison was raised Christian.
However Korzen says the most important distinction between them is one thing deeper.
“I’m the primary technology (youngster) of very poor immigrants. I grew up in a Jewish ghetto within the Bronx. … I all the time really feel, on this nation, wherever I am going, I’m an outsider,” she says.
Morrison’s household’s roots in the US return for generations. And in her, Korzen sees a way of belonging that she’s by no means felt.
In a column she wrote about their relationship, Korzen described Morrison as “tall,” “skinny” and “model-beautiful.” She described herself as “brief” and “average-looking.”
“I all the time knew I used to be not fairly,” she informed CNN in a current interview. However making TikToks with Morrison, she says, has modified her perspective.
“That is the primary time in my life I’m being known as stunning. They (commenters) say ‘You’re attractive.’ ‘You’re stunning.’ ‘I really like your outfit.’ ‘I really like your hair.’ ‘I really like your model.’ ‘I really like you.’ ‘You look so nice,’” Korzen says. “I’ve by no means heard this in my life, particularly not in Hollywood.”
And having a wider following on TikTok, she says, is altering the best way Hollywood sees her, too.
“Mackenzie created this factor for me the place I stroll out on the street and folks come as much as inform me how a lot they love me. That’s an enormous deal in my life. … And it’s given me a distinct type of focus creatively and professionally,” Korzen says.
She’s getting extra writing alternatives and auditions for extra vital roles.
“I’m getting known as in for sequence common, which has not occurred earlier than,” Korzen says, “and I’m certain it’s as a result of producers say, ‘Hey, that is somebody who might deliver us an viewers.’ They usually’re proper.”
Korzen has stated she’d love a job like Andy Rooney as soon as had on “60 Minutes,” complaining about no matter she desires as soon as per week. And certainly, generally her TikToks will be simply as curmudgeonly as Rooney’s segments as soon as had been. She’s gotten thousands and thousands of views with a question about a Krispy Kreme donut (“Was it crispy?” she asks) and, extra lately, with a rant about hard-to-eat salads (“That’s NOT enticing,” she says after shoving a big forkful of leaves into her mouth).
In her TikTok bio she as soon as described herself as “The Cranky New Yorker,” however lots of her movies are much less grouchy and extra – as some commenters have put it – “the grandma you want you had.”
Korzen additionally shares recommendation on model (“be fun and colorful and full of life”), procuring (“do not shop retail”) and relationships (“don’t look for a mirror image of yourself”). She reveals embarrassing moments, just like the time she acquired caught mendacity throughout an audition many years in the past. And she or he tears up when talking about her grandson.
A lot of the TikToks are shot inside her Los Angeles residence. Typically they function her 84-year-old husband, Benni Korzen, an artist and movie producer who gained an Oscar for 1987’s “Babette’s Feast.” And even when he’s not onscreen, Benni’s work are sometimes hanging within the all the time daring and brightly coloured background.
Nevertheless it’s uncommon for Morrison to seem within the TikToks. To her, Korzen is – and must be – the star. And she or he trusts Korzen will know what to say and find out how to say it.
“I really feel like I’m like Oz. I’m behind the digital camera,” she says, smiling.
However her canine D.D. (brief for Diesel Duke) has appeared quite a few instances. And in lots of movies, Morrison’s snicker bubbles up within the background. What Korzen says usually catches her abruptly.
It doesn’t matter what matter she tackles, Korzen says the responses have been overwhelmingly optimistic – usually coming from a younger generation of fans that she by no means imagined would join together with her.
Morrison’s assist has been a key ingredient. “I perceive nothing about TikTok. Mackenzie compelled me into it. … I can barely ship a textual content. I can barely take a selfie,” Korzen quips in considered one of her early movies.
However over the previous 12 months and a half, the chums say they’ve discovered quite a bit and located a successful technique collectively.
Recording periods that final two hours about as soon as per week generate about 20 potential TikToks. Korzen will give you an inventory of concepts beforehand. However she retains her feedback unscripted, they usually by no means re-record a phase.
By way of all of it, she says, she’s discovered to belief Morrison’s instincts.
“I have a tendency to simply say no matter involves thoughts. And I’d do a TikTok, and afterwards, Mackenzie will go, ‘I don’t suppose so.’ She’s conscious of sure sensitivities – ‘You’ll be able to’t say that, it’s physique shaming.’ ‘You’ll be able to’t say that, it’s divisive.’ We attempt very laborious to keep away from the ugly. She’s so tuned right into a technology that I’m completely blind to,” Korzen says.
“I do know that she’s going to hold me protected, that she’s very protecting of retaining me out of hazard. So we have now – like in any friendship, proper? – we every have sure strengths that the opposite wants.”
Once they’re not making TikToks collectively, all Morrison has to do is look contained in the closet of her Hollywood condo to be reminded of what Korzen has given her.
Korzen usually picks out garments for Morrison when she’s thrift procuring.
“She actually is aware of my model. It’s fairly easy in comparison with hers. She loves loud, daring colours, and daring jewellery. However for me she’s going to all the time discover a easy silhouette,” Morrison says.
She treasures a lacy, white cardigan Korzen picked out.
After which there are the clothes.
Morrison was engaged when she first met Korzen, and realizing their shared love of thrifting and classic style, it wasn’t lengthy earlier than Korzen began looking for one thing Morrison might put on on the massive day.
“She was looking for my wedding ceremony costume for a greenback,” Morrison says.
However ultimately, Morrison broke off the engagement. It was a rocky relationship, she says, that endured by the pandemic however ended earlier this 12 months. With out Korzen’s help, she says, she by no means would have gotten by that point. She cut up up together with her one-time fiancé, however she saved Korzen’s clothes.
And Korzen saved on procuring.
“She went from shopping for me greenback wedding ceremony clothes to love these tremendous horny, shoulder-exposed garments. I’ve very subdued greenback wedding ceremony clothes and lots of horny, going-out clothes,” Morrison says, laughing. “Put them in a row, it reveals my 12 months in overview.”
And it reveals one thing extra highly effective: a permanent friendship that Morrison says has introduced stability and pleasure to her life.
As the 2 area questions on their friendship from CNN, Morrison jumps in to ask Korzen one thing she’s been pondering:
“Do you keep in mind what you had been like whenever you had been 31? Would you be my buddy?”
Korzen solutions with out hesitation: “Most likely not.”
Again then, in 1970, she was working as a piano instructor and taking good care of a younger son.
“I wouldn’t really feel we had something in frequent, and we wouldn’t, as a result of I used to be a really completely different particular person at your age than I’m now. It took me a complete lifetime to search out myself and to get to be assured about who I used to be,” Korzen says.
“I used to be very not sure and insecure for many of my life. I didn’t really feel I had any skills. And after I lastly determined I had skills, I didn’t really feel they had been appreciated in any approach. I’m solely getting that now, after I must be useless.”
Morrison interjects. “Annie, don’t say that!”
Like they’ve so many instances, the 2 mates banter and break down in laughter collectively. However to Morrison, Korzen’s reply underscores how fortunate they had been to search out one another once they did.
And when Korzen talks about looking for herself, Morrison is aware of what she means.
Morrison as soon as helped begin a file label. She was additionally a private assistant to a Japanese pop star.
Now she’s a contract author. She works on a mayoral marketing campaign. She’s a server at a restaurant. And she or he additionally will get a minimize of Korzen’s TikTok-related earnings, which embrace cost for personalised greetings Korzen sends to followers by way of the Cameo web site, gross sales of her husband’s paintings to TikTok viewers and proceeds from a T-shirt that includes Korzen’s viral donut quip.
Requested find out how to describe her occupation, Morrison says, “ask me in six months, and I’m going to have an excellent higher reply.” She says her current breakup has led to a brand new part of progress.
“I’m type of rebuilding myself. … The final six years I used to be type of supporting another person’s life, and now that is my time,” she says.
Seeing Korzen’s fulfilling and really busy life, she says, makes her understand she nonetheless has loads of time to search out her path.
“After I was solely hanging out with folks my age, I used to be continuously evaluating myself to the place they’re in life,” Morrison says. “Annie’s given me 40-50 extra years to discover and have enjoyable and be myself. It’s unbelievable. I can’t wait to be 80.”
Greater than a 12 months after their TikTok collaboration began, Korzen’s account has greater than 350,000 followers and her cranky commentary and life classes have gotten thousands and thousands of likes. Korzen’s profession has gotten a lift.
And for Morrison, the expertise has introduced one thing she feels is simply as beneficial.
She treasures the breaks between recording TikToks, when the 2 ladies share tales with one another. She loves the texts they ship one another virtually each night time. And she or he cherishes the particular time when a recording session is completed and Korzen makes a degree of strolling her to her automobile.
“There’s all the time this sentimental, candy, tender second,” Morrison says.
In these moments Korzen usually shares some final little bit of knowledge earlier than Morrison will get into her white Toyota Mirai, generally carrying thrift retailer offers Korzen discovered for her.
As Morrison heads residence, she thinks about what her buddy stated that day, and the way a lot enjoyable it will likely be to share it with the world.