PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — State Sen. Tiara Mack has had quite a week.

The first-term Democrat went viral for posting a TikTok video in which she was shown in a bikini at the beach doing a handstand and twerking, leading to days of debate on social media about whether it was an appropriate move for a sitting lawmaker.

“I didn’t really expect this to take off globally, and I did not expect this to become, like, a meme sensation,” Mack told 12 News on Friday. “But I’m glad it’s sparked a lot of important conversations, and it’s been able to uplift a lot of the causes that I care about.”

She also said, “I’ve struggled with the idea that in order to be respected, I have to be fully clothed and buttoned up and I have to be performing in a way that is inauthentic to myself.”

In the above video, Senator Mack talks one-on-one with 12 News politics editor Ted Nesi about the origin of the TikTok video, how she responds to her critics, her political future, and more. Below is an excerpt from the full interview.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook