TikTok Dads Terrell and Jarius Joseph on Shattering Stereotypes and More
It’s easy to get sucked into watching Terrell and Jarius Joseph’s family on TikTok. They take their 2.1 million followers along for the ride on their parenting adventures, from the silly to the serious.
But behind the humor and heart, Terrell and Jarius, who are both from small-town Louisiana, are accomplishing major goals. With multiple businesses, including restaurants and real estate, the two dads are working hard to create an empire. By sharing their everyday stories of being Black and gay dads on social media, they’re helping educate viewers about social injustice and what it means to belong to two vulnerable communities.
And they’re doing it all with a new baby in tow. In March, Terrell and Jarius welcomed baby No. 3, daughter Aspen Noelle, via surrogate. Born 10 weeks premature, Aspen spent time in the NICU before joining the couple and their daughter Aria Brielle and son Ashton Cole, both 6, at home. (Aria and Ashton were born five weeks apart in 2017 through two different surrogates.)
Aspen’s homecoming was an emotional journey. Flying back and forth between their home in Atlanta and Oregon, where Aspen was in the NICU, took a toll on the family. “We’ve never gotten a chance to truly enjoy pregnancy because we’ve always been on edge,” Jarius shares. They lost their first daughter, whom they had named Aubrey Noelle, to miscarriage—Aspen Noelle was named after her. Ashton came four weeks early and was only 3 pounds, 11 oz. when he was born. Aria’s surrogate had to have an emergency c-section because she fell down the stairs. “When we got to Aspen, our goal was to try and wait until we were in the 30-week area to announce, so we could just make sure that we were safe,” says Jarius. “And she was literally born at 29 weeks and five days.”
Like with any new baby, the couple is experiencing quite a few sleepless nights. But after their ordeal, Terrell and Jarius are just happy that baby Aspen is safely home. “The overwhelming joy makes all the busy days really worth it, and the sleepless nights as well—because there are many of those!” says Jarius. “Overall, it’s just been a blessing, and I feel like it’s something that we wanted for so long, and we’re so just glad to be here and to have made it through.”
Now that they’re no longer living in transit while traveling to the NICU, they can also focus on their businesses. Aside from their usual social media influencer duties, they own a franchise of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit restaurant in Flowery Branch, Georgia, and are in the process of expanding to a couple more locations. Their goal is to eventually open their own Louisiana-themed restaurant, but for now they’re learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business.
The couple has also gotten into real estate. “Terrell was really passionate about going in and flipping houses, and he had to reel me along because I’m more of a cautious person as it pertains to ways to make money,” Jarius jokes. Jarius says he’s currently finishing up real estate school, and they hope to open their own brokerage in the next few years too.
“Our biggest thing that we’re focused on now is creating generational wealth for our children and grandchildren and so on,” says Jarius. “Growing up in Louisiana, we didn’t really see that at all. Especially being in the Black community and knowing the inequities there, we didn’t have parents that left us anything or that gave us really big starts.”
Social media influencing is an uncertain field, so the couple says it’s important for them to create businesses with more lasting power. “Our biggest thing is making sure that [our kids] are going to be set for life as much as we possibly can, while teaching them along the way how to really work and how to think unconventionally outside of the box to get ahead,” says Jarius. “That’s our biggest focus, as opposed to focusing on the ‘influencing’ part of it, which is great and amazing.”
Terrell and Jarius met during their freshman year of college at a haunted house and got engaged exactly two years later. They bought their first home when they were just out of college in 2015, and they got married in 2017. They first made a name for themselves as influencers on the reboot of Wife Swap in 2019—they were the first same-sex couple on the show.
Taking the leap from their corporate jobs to becoming full-time content creators was nerve-wracking. “Everyone looked at us like we were crazy,” Terrell shares. But after positive feedback—and some lucrative deals—they felt encouraged to keep going. “We had a passion for what we were doing,” says Terrell. “We were getting so many emails and messages from people around the world, inspired by our story and … how we persevered through a lot of the things that we went through. And then, of course, the deals with money started rolling in.”
The couple’s goal, they say, is to shatter stereotypes around both being Black dads and being gay dads. “[The LGBTQ+ community has] only been shown as, possibly, the gay best friend or the hairdressers, or the stylists, but never so much in the light of owning your own business, of having a family,” Terrell says. “We’re a part of two minority communities. It’s [also] the stereotype that Black fathers aren’t involved,” which is why he says it’s so important to show, for example, Jarius doing Aria’s hair on TikTok. “I want [our kids] to know that everything that we did was to make society more accepting and understanding for the time that they get old enough to have kids,” Terrell says.
Both of their moms have been super-supportive of the couple and their business ventures—Jarius’s mom recently retired from her corporate job and came to live with them as a full-time grandma. Terrell’s mom still lives in Louisiana, but she visits a lot.
Terrell and Jarius say there have been some struggles with some members of their families in terms of accepting them as a couple. But the visibility the couple has achieved over the years has helped those family members get past some of their negative stigmas around same-sex relationships, and opened up the door for more dialogue and conversation, which in turn promotes relationship-healing, adds Jarius.
Jarius adds that watching the couple’s social media fame soar has helped some of their family members become more accepting of their relationship.
“If I’m being transparent, I think it took them being able to see the love that we received from social media to be able to say, ‘Well, if everyone else is loving them and showing them so much support, why should I not give it to my own child or to my own family member?’” he says.
As Terrell and Jarius are getting used to being a family of five and continuing to pursue their goals—and garner more fans—the open-mindedness among their family is growing. Here’s hoping it will lead to more conversations and healing.