Grant Sikes has been busy since she established herself as a star of Bama Rush 2022. Even as she picks up my call, she’s running from a meeting with Berkshire Hathaway, where she currently works as a real estate agent. “I’m in the elevator, oh my God,” she laughs.
Once she’s settled back in her dorm room, though, she’s ready to chat all things Bama Rush. Sikes famously got dropped by almost all of Bama’s sorority houses before day one of recruitment last year, but that hasn’t left her with resentment for the process — instead, she looked out for 2023’s new class of PNMs (potential new members), becoming a different kind of rush coach for them — specifically, one who knows how to deal with the unpredictable element of internet hate. “A lot of them asked me for advice on social media because I was the same as them overnight,” she says. “I had six-figure followers and it was crazy,” adding a shoutout to two of the most-watched PNMs this season: “Bella [Grace Gates] and Morgan have 130,000-something followers or so.”
Bama Rush has become famous for its OOTDs, where PNMs and active sisters show off their sometimes pricy, always glamorous outfits for rush’s several rounds. If an OOTD has made its way to your FYP, you know you’re back on RushTok. However, Sikes — whose own rising star was put into motion by her OOTDs in August 2022 — is skeptical of how much longer the Bama Rush phenomenon will have legs.
“I’ve talked to PNMs that have dropped this year, and they are all saying that if you’re on TikTok, then it’s not probably the best look for you,” she admits. “Last year there was me and Kylan [Darnell] and Gracyn [Edmonson], and a few others that were really, really big. This year, a lot of the houses and sorority girls are looking at that as kind of a social risk.” Sikes even invokes a phrase more often heard on The Bachelor, saying, “Maybe some of the girls posting on social media might not be posting for the right reasons … They should be focused on rush. They shouldn’t be focused on gaining a hundred thousand followers.”
I spoke with Sikes before Bid Day on Aug. 20, and one of the fan-favorite PNMs, Morgan, did get dropped by all of the houses, which Sikes had predicted. “It could go one or two ways. It could snowball into next year and everyone’s gonna be posting [on RushTok], or if Morgan and Bella and maybe a few others don’t get into the house that they want or if they get dropped … it’ll change the attitude a lot, because then people are gonna be scared to post a TikTok.” So is the future of Bama Rush at stake? “I’m so excited, but I’m nervous, because what if this is the last year? ‘Cause it’s kind of been a letdown this year,” Sikes says.
A crackdown on social media posting may seem draconian, but there’s precedent here: The rumors and fervor around the Bama Rush documentary on Max, which debuted in May, had led some sisters to see capitalizing on Bama Rush’s viewership as a social death sentence. One participant, Shelby Rose, even publicly distanced herself from it after it came out, and Sikes says she’d advised PNMs like Morgan to be careful about their image in general, always wary of who could be watching and judging. She says, “We [Sikes and Bama Rush TikTok personality Brandis Bradley] told Morgan, maybe don’t post as much. You might wanna play it a little safe versus not getting a bid.”
“I cannot wait to better equip myself to advocate for not only myself, but people like me.”
Even showing off your OOTDs can be problematic, depending on what they include. Sikes says one of the biggest myths about rush at Bama, a narrative perpetuated by some of the TikToks that go viral for showcasing unfathomably expensive outfits, is “if you want to get into a top house, that you have to wear Cartier and you have to wear Gucci and you know, be the Kylan Darnell,” she says. “They don’t care how much money you have. As long as you pay your dues, you’re fine. And if you can’t pay your dues, then you’re out.”
Sikes still understands the outside appeal of Bama Rush, though. “Are they gonna get dropped? Are they not? It’s like a free TV show on TikTok. You and everyone can watch for free, follow along, be haters.”
Sikes, for one, has done her time with the haters, and whether or not this is the last year of Bama Rush, she’s got bigger plans. “I’m super, super excited about going to law school,” she gushes. “I cannot wait to better equip myself to advocate for not only myself, but people like me. And what better way [than] to be a lawyer or attorney?” Add that to her real estate work and a clothing company she’s planning to launch soon, and Sikes has a full plate to keep her busy, whether it’s rush season or not. “I feel like I grew up really, really quickly all of a sudden with Bama Rush,” Sikes reflects, now that it’s been a year since she found herself in the spotlight. “I went through all of these phases. I’m figuring life out, but I’ve realized that no one really has it figured out.”