TikTok Talks - Joel M: ‘I realised that life was different when I wasn’t able to go to McDonald’s anymore’

From Bangor to Blue Peter, hanging out with Jared Leto and doing his own live shows, it’s been a magical journey for TikTok royalty Joel M, as Sophie Clarke discovers

Magician and TV presenter Joel Mawhinney. Picture by Stacey Clarke
Magician and TV presenter Joel Mawhinney. Picture by Stacey Clarke Magician and TV presenter Joel Mawhinney. Picture by Stacey Clarke

Magician, TikToker and television presenter Joel Mawhinney, known professionally as Joel M, is well on his way to becoming a Northern Ireland icon.

The Bangor-born magic man is renowned for his mind-boggling mentalism and seemingly impossible illusions, amassing over 20 million followers across all his social media platforms, making him one of Northern Ireland’s most successful influencers. Which, along with his talent and enthusiasm, ultimately led to Joel becoming the 41st Blue Peter presenter in 2022.

“If you’d told me when I was 18 that I’d be a kids’ TV presenter there’s no way I would’ve believed you,” he says.

Matt Baker, Abby Cook, Lindsey Russell, Henry the dog, Radzi Chinyanganya and Joel Mawhinney.
Matt Baker, Abby Cook, Lindsey Russell, Henry the dog, Radzi Chinyanganya and Joel Mawhinney

“When I was 19, I had a show out on BBC Northern Ireland and they had me on Blue Peter to promote it, so they knew me already.

“Then last summer, around the time the ex-presenter Adam B was leaving, they had me back on to do some tricks, but it turned out to be a bit of a sneaky screen test because they couldn’t get studio time to do it and then they offered me the job – it was bizarre.”

In October Joel was also amazing audiences across Northern Ireland with his with his first tour, Joel M: Impossible.

“The tour was the best fun I’ve had in years.

“We did Bangor, Belfast, Armagh and Lisburn along with a few other spots and it was just the best because as dramatic as it sounds, whenever Covid hit we didn’t really know if live shows were going to come back again.


Rate the magic trick pt.8 😱🔮 @lilpeeef

♬ original sound - Joel M

“My biggest regret was that I never really did a tour before Covid and it was the one thing I really wanted to do because magic is the first love so actually being able to do that and have people sitting in the audience was very, very nice.

“Northern Irish audiences are class as well, so we are looking at dates for 2024 to head back out and do a few more shows.”

Joel was introduced to magic at the age of five and performed his first live show at 11 in a cabaret club before he proceeded to take TikTok by storm.


Rate the magic! Pt.16 😱🔮 @lilpeeef

♬ original sound - Joel M

“I was on TikTok before it was TikTok. It was originally called Musically and at the start I was posting videos of me playing the piano because it was a music app but those didn’t do well.

“So, after a while, I threw up a magic video and closed the app and didn’t come back to it.

“Then about two months later I went into it and saw that this video had 10,000 views, so I decided to keep posting and at that time I think there only was two other magicians on the platform, so I had a bit of a head start.”


Don’t trust your eyes 😳

♬ original sound - Joel M

Since then, Joel has gone on to receive over 384.6 million likes on the platform and formed a solid fan base made up of surprising demographic.

“We got a general overview of my fanbase, and my average fan is a teenage boy around 15 years old and then second to that is a 13-year-old teenage girl.”

However, the magician reckons he knows why his videos appeal to the younger generation.

“I’ve been into magic since I was a child but it was around that age that I got really into it.

“I feel like magic is a very fast and easy way to impress people and that is a natural thing to want to be able to do when you’re a teenager. So, if I had to guess why that’s the audience I attract I’d say that might have something to do with it.


Blindfolded Rubiks Cube

♬ original sound - Joel M

“I do have a lot of secret adult fans though,” he laughs.

“I’ve had people come to shows because their kids want to come but you can tell it was dad, he likes the magic.”

During our chat Joel admits that despite being a TV personality and having a massive online following he doesn’t feel famous. However, he acknowledges that since posting viral videos and presenting Blue Peter his life has changed.

“The moment I realised that life was different was when I wasn’t able to go to McDonald’s anymore during the day because I’d go in for a cheeseburger and spend an hour and a half chatting to people.

“It’s not a bad thing though - I asked for it so I’m not complaining. It’s really rare for people to become famous by accident there’s always the intention there so it annoys me when people act like being famous is hard, I guarantee their life was harder beforehand.”


Now you see me 2 🃏 (In Real Life!) 😱🔮

♬ Now You See Me - Brian Tyler

Although Joel doesn’t feel like a celebrity it has not stopped him from rubbing shoulders with a few, most notably Hollywood actor and Thirty Seconds To Mars front man Jared Leto.

“You know how there’s that classic question where people ask what celebrity you would want to meet most? My top three have always been Derren Brown, Chris Angel and Jared Leto - I just think he is so cool.

“I woke up one day, looked at my Instagram and there was a DM from him and I thought it was fake - it couldn’t be real, there was no way.

“I still clicked into it though and it was clearly a member of his team and they explained that Jared loves magic and that he wanted to film some tricks and stuff with me and asked if I would be happy to fly over to London to meet him.

“So, I obviously said yes and flew over but until he walked into the room, I didn’t believe it was real because he was an idol to me.

“I’ve never seen a man with less pores in his face - it is unbelievable, he looks like he’s been photoshopped in real time, it’s crazy - but he was really lovely and hopefully I’ll get to work with him again at some point,” gushes Joel.

Based on this recollection it is clear that working with Jared Leto was a real career highlight for Joel, however, it is his brother Ethan that makes the best magician’s assistant.


You are not ready for the LAST one! 😂🪄

♬ original sound - Joel M

“When we’re making TikToks we’ll film like 10 different tricks before we decide on what ones to actually use and sometimes Ethan just won’t react and that’s how I gauge whether a trick is good or not.

“I owe him an awful lot because I know it’s rare that people get on really well with their siblings, but we’ve just always just got on and he’s always up for doing videos even though he has no interest in magic at all.”

I’ve never seen a man with fewer pores in his face - it is unbelievable, he looks like he’s been photoshopped in real time, it’s crazy - but he was really lovely and hopefully I’ll get to work with him again at some point

—  Joel M on Jared Leto

Between flying back and forth to Manchester to film Blue Peter, continuing to create content online and going on tour, 2023 was a busy year. However, Joel says none of it would have been possible without the support of his family.


Rate the magic… 😱🔮 @lilpeeef

♬ original sound - Joel M

“My family genuinely are awesome, I’d imagine it would be very difficult to do anything in life if you didn’t have a family supporting you,” he says.

“That’s another thing that really motivates me to take risks and go further - because I know if it all went wrong I’d still have a bed at mum and dad’s house... but that only comes from staying on good terms with your family, so treat them well,” he laughs.

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