Jeremy Franco Is More Than Just The Brains Behind The Internet's Favourite 'Brown Aunty'

The Australian TikToker speaks about social media fame, relatable comedy and fighting racism.

Jeremy Franco

Image Source: Instagram/jeremy.franco

With bleached platinum blond hair, a pink dupatta and cup of chai in hand, the new Desi aunty of the internet is here. Portrayed by Jeremy Franco, the Indian mum/aunty figure has dominated our social media feeds, grilling her son/nephew (also played by Franco) on everything from arranged marriage to studies and strict curfews.

While the likes of Lilly Singh and Planet Parle have done this in the past, Franco has nailed it for the current day, tapping into Gen Z’s TikTok obsession as he depicts the hilariously entertaining and very honest way that children of immigrants interact with their parents.

“Everything that I shoot is 100% based off an experience that I’ve personally had with my parents, aunties or uncles. I never depict anything that isn’t my own experience,” Franco tells Draw Your Box

With his family originally from Goa, Franco was actually born in Mumbai and spent the first few years of his life living between India and Hong Kong. He then moved to Australia at what he says “was around the age of five or six”. Like many young South Asians in Australia, he enjoyed the school year Down Under, but come summer school holidays, he was back visiting family in India every December until he was 18. 

Franco went on to work in sales, but the now 26-year-old’s life took a big turn during the COVID-19 pandemic when his social media popularity soared. After posting his first video in 2020, he steadily attracted a growing audience, which is currently at over 490,000 TikTok followers and more than 206,000 Instagram followers. Now a full-time content creator, who counts red carpet and radio hosting as part of his job, Franco is living the dream. But he never thought an entertainment career would actually be feasible, particularly due to cultural expectations to pursue a professional career.

“I think I always knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry but never thought it possible as it was never going to be a means to please my parents,” he says. 

“I always loved creating content. Making videos was always something fun for me to do, regardless of whether I had an audience or not.”

Franco believes that his genuine enjoyment of creating content is part of the secret to his success. He never went into it to become famous, but rather to entertain with characters that reflect real-life experiences.

“I think why people gravitated towards them [the characters] was because of the authenticity and relatability,” he explains. “People see their lives through my characters and I love that.” 

While there’s no question that he’s gained a huge South Asian following in Australia and abroad, Franco says there’s “universal” appeal in his content which then resonates with wider audiences. 

“Strict/overbearing parents is not a concept exclusive to South Asian families,” he says. “There are so many other cultures that have similar life experiences and I love that everyone can relate. It’s also why recently I’ve started transitioning my captions from ‘Brown Moms’ to just ‘Moms’.”

It’s been a whirlwind year for the content creator who’s interviewed Netflix stars, presented radio shows, walked at Australian Fashion Week and hosted several TikTok red carpets, including the one at Vogue Australia’s Barbie party (where he proudly brought the brown Ken vibes). 

@jezbreezy E6 THE REAL AUNTIES OF BOLLYWOOD - preethi engaged?! #aunties #comedy #realitytv #kardashians ♬ original sound - Jeremy Franco

Describing the opportunities he’s had in the past 12 months as “a fever dream”, Franco’s quick to add that there’s still a way to go in progressing cultural representation in the entertainment world.

“Oh, I don’t think brown people are front and centre at all [in entertainment]! Sure, we’re making strides but that’s only because we’ve found little tiny pockets on the internet,” he reflects.

“The true test of the entertainment industry is mainstream media (television, radio etc), which I think still has a long way to go. I’m super glad to help add to this representation, but I would love to see more, and that’s why I do whatever I can to help provide others with some of those same opportunities.” 

Speaking of helping others and sparking conversations that elevate diverse communities, Franco recently spoke out about his experiences facing racism and homophobia. One instance involved a series of offensive comments about him posted under a video in which he was playing soccer while promoting a deodorant brand. 

“In all seriousness, these racist, homophobic and gender-based hate comments are appalling,” he wrote on his Instagram account at the time.

“There were so many others that I couldn’t show (the brand has since ripped down their comment section). If who I am and how I look can make someone lash out so belligerently, then that makes me really sad. I have played soccer on and off in Sydney and Mumbai since I was five years old, so this was supposed to be something positive for me.

“I hate that others looking at these comments (who might see similar attributes of themselves in me) could now be a little more afraid to be themselves.” 

Reflecting on his decision to be more vocal about these experiences, Franco tells us that these conversations need to be had in order to remind everyone that discrimination in various forms still exists. 

“I think because I surround myself with so many great people, I forget that there are people who will hate you for things that you can’t control,” he says. 

“We as a society have to do better in educating youth because at the end of the day, racism and homophobia are taught, and they’re taught at home first. I have hope that we can one day get to a stage where diversity and inclusion becomes second nature and I think Australia is on track.”

As we continue to have these important discussions while navigating our place in the world as young brown people, we can take comfort in knowing that Franco’s brilliant and relatable comedy is only a click (and cosy chai) away.