Delaney Rowe is not anything like the characters she portrays in her TikToks(opens in a new tab).
Which is to say, I think Rowe and I could be friends. She's immediately open with the people she meets, offering up a kind of vulnerability that feels rare. She has the qualities that separate good comedians from great ones: She is interested in others, introspective of her work, and thoughtful about the way she interacts with the world.
Rowe is, obviously, a Virgo — so maybe it's not a surprise that she's writing a book.
"I get so insecure about talking about [writing the book] because it puts pressure on me to do it," Rowe told Mashable. "And I am doing it, but I have to psychologically get to a place where I believe that no one's ever gonna read it so that I can continue to be creative. Because the second I'm like, 'My aunt's gonna read this,' I am so much more conservative in my writing."
Her writing has led her to read more books like Bunny by Mona Awad, a darkly funny novel about a lonely graduate student who falls in with a clique of rich girls. Rowe's book is a collection of essays, but she's still finding inspiration from novels like Bunny. She has this innate ability to take things that have seemingly nothing to do with her artistic nature and turn it into art.
Rowe has created dozens of viral TikTok's, many of which poke fun at the classic Female Lead: The rebellious yet wild female lead in every dance movie(opens in a new tab); Girl who's convinced you're absolutely obsessed with her wakes up next to you(opens in a new tab); The female bartender in every movie written by a man(opens in a new tab); and Girl who's convinced you're absolutely obsessed with her makes pancakes(opens in a new tab). You get it. It's like a self tape but somehow incredibly painful to watch.
She said she gets most of her inspiration for her viral TikTok videos from her friends. But before she took off, she worked as a private chef. She would cook 4,000 calories a day for some professional athlete, come home, drink a bottle of wine, and film a TikTok. That was the beginning of her entrance into the content creation world.
I chatted with Rowe about the distance between herself and the characters in her videos, the loneliness and community of being online, the romanticization of creativity, and her own FYP.
Mashable: You're posting, you're creating videos, you're acting, and you're working on a book of essays. How do you weigh what to spend time doing and how much work you put into all these things?
Delaney Rowe: I'm just gonna be as honest as possible, which is I don't. I have days where I will, like today for example, I had planned to get up at 6:00 AM like a hero. I went to bed at 10:30 and — by the way, I did that tart cherry juice(opens in a new tab), little sleepy girl cocktail. Have you tried this?
No. Does it work?
Yeah. It's got a lot of melatonin in it, and it knocks you out. It's crazy. It's like drinking tequila, it's insane. And so I didn't wake up at six, I woke up at 9:30.
So I've already woken up feeling bad about myself. Now my whole day has pushed back. I have to carve in a good chunk of time of me sitting and just whittling away at my own anxieties. That's a huge chunk of the day that you can't really anticipate, but inevitably every day it comes. So that pushes everything off.
I've just tried to take a little bit of the pressure off myself when it comes to having a morning routine and an evening routine. I just do what I can when I can, and that is what works best for me. If I am like, "I really need to sit and do nothing," I will do that. Being gentle with my schedule has been helpful, but that also makes it sort of hard to work with me as somebody who's like on the other side, like, "Hey, where's that brand video that was due two days ago?" And I'm like, "Oh, sorry, I had to be anxious for the day."
What's your For You Page like?
It's not comedy, which is funny. I actually think that's good for me, but it's not comedy. My For You Page is 90 percent dating advice and 10 percent food content.
Is any of the dating advice helpful?
Actually, yes. I heard something the other day that I found really helpful. I watched something about not giving the people that you're seeing in a situationship boyfriend or girlfriend privileges when it's not there yet, which I think is really something that I've struggled with. When I'm casually seeing somebody, all of a sudden I'm cooking them dinner and they're sleeping over and I am sending them articles and things that I think are interesting, and I'm like, "Hold on, we're not there yet."
Why don't you talk about dating on TikTok?
The answer is anxiety. I also like to try to take care of the people in my life and keep their lives as private as possible because not everybody that I've been involved with romantically has chosen to be on the internet like I have. I see people who integrate their relationships [online], and I think it's amazing and really entertaining. I admire Ken Eurich(opens in a new tab), who is really funny, having the people that she's involved with in her life in her content, integrated in a really natural, hilarious way. She does a great job at that. I couldn't do as good of a job as that, so I just opt to not.
Do you think that getting this level of notoriety has affected your personal relationships?
As my online world has gotten bigger, my personal world has gotten so much smaller. I have very few people that I like to spend my free time with. And all of those people are amazing. I don't date as often. Not because I feel like I'm some internet celebrity — I really don't feel that way — I just feel as though so much of my mind is on work and creating content that I haven't had the wherewithal to put a lot into a romantic relationship at the moment. And I think that's OK. I am just trying to be honest with myself and other people about that.
What keeps me home a lot is cooking something, having a good bottle of wine, and watching a Nancy Meyers movie.
So you're watching romcoms — the very cliches that you're making fun of, right? Why do you think people are so into these videos that you're making?
I don't know. Because the thing is, I'm not the only one who's doing it. I've been around for a long time, but right now I'm having a surge of interest. And I think it's less the content of the thing that I'm making fun of and more of how I am doing it that is setting me aside from other people, which is I play that straight. I do those videos, like it's a self take. I am not winking. I want you to believe my acting. And I think that's why it's so cringe. And people think it's funny.
I don't know if I believe that I'm funny. I can only go off what other people are saying, but it seems to get positive feedback. And I do think it has to do with the fact that I am deadly serious about playing these characters in the moment, because I think that yields a funnier result than being over the top.
I've been really interested in cringe comedy lately. Nathan Fielder, I Think You Should Leave, I'm re-watching Veep, and your TikTok videos. Does it feel cringey to create these cringey videos? Or does it feel like you're really in it?
If I am in it and I'm commenting on it, meaning like I'm wink-winking at the fact that I know it's cringey, it's not gonna be as funny as I want it to be. It has to be very serious to that character in the moment. Like, "Girl who's convinced that everyone is in love with her(opens in a new tab)" or whatever. When I'm doing those videos, I have to be so in it and not go too overboard. The more realistic I can make it, the harder it hits. The answer is like, as soon as the camera goes off, I go, "Ugh." But in the moment, I believe it.
How do you come up with these ideas?
It will be like, as simple as being with a group of friends. I heard somebody say something absolutely horrific the other day. They were like, "I guess I'm just obsessed with the messiness of being human." Um, are you kidding me? That is the worst thing I've ever heard. And then I take out my phone, I write that down and I'm like, that's a video. Girl who's obsessed with the messiness of being human.
Do your friends ask you if it's about them?
Do you tell them?
Yes. And so much so to the point where I could now do a character that's "Girl who's convinced my videos are about them." I've never done a video that's in its entirety about one of my friends. It's bits and pieces that turn into its own character. But I also have had moments where I've pulled so directly from a friend that I've texted them beforehand and been like, "Hi, I want you to know that you're in this video and I love you so much and it's just with love and I love you and don't ever change, but you're in my video."
Have the reactions been OK?
Oh, yeah. All my friends are comedians. They love it.
Is that something that you've been able to transfer into your writing as well? Or do you feel like TikTok is a form of comedy that is difficult to duplicate on other platforms?
I think that TikTok is performing, but it's also writing. I write all of these videos. And so I just think that it's helped not so much my actual prose, but it's helped to enrich my creativity as a whole. It just makes my life feel full of creative opportunities. I can film a video or I can stop and then go write, or I can go audition for something. And that's the ultimate blessing of this job. It's a day that is rich in creativity. It's helped me take my writing less seriously. My writing was really pretentious a few years ago, and now it's really weird and much more representative of what goes on inside my head. That's definitely due to being on TikTok.
You wrote an essay in Marie Claire(opens in a new tab) and mentioned that being a content creator is also really lonely. How do you tackle that?
I kind of almost wanna go back on that. If I'm looking back at that, I don't know if it's that being a content creator is really lonely or if I just have a natural disposition of being lonely. I've always been that way. It's something that my mother pointed out about me recently. She's like, "You find yourself in a very lonely state often." And I think it has to do with the way that I work. I don't believe, and this is my insecurity talking, I don't believe I can do really great work around other people.
I believe that I have to shut myself into such a stressed out, isolated place in order to produce. And that might not be true anymore. I haven't given myself an opportunity to disprove that to myself. But I will say I have an assistant now, and that is really helpful to have another woman in my space three times a week, whether she's helping me with work or not, having social interaction is really helpful. Taking general meetings and work meetings, on Zoom and in person. I try to do that. I like getting work drinks, and things like that have made the experience of what I do feel a lot more like a real job with people and community. So it's little things like that, just forcing myself to not tell myself the same story about being a lonely person.
I also think that being in your twenties can be an inherently lonely experience.
Totally being human. We are all disproportionately lonely to how much social media is available to us, and that's all correlated.
This reminds me of every montage I've ever seen in a movie about a woman writing. And it's always nighttime and she's in her dark room and there's like one candle lit and she's alone and she's writing and there are papers and files everywhere. I could be totally off base, but do you think there's like a romanticization of doing this work alone?
Absolutely. It feels very luxurious to spend five hours on your laptop, and then you look away and you've written one sentence. I think because writers are so sensitive that you have to be so private with your work for so long until you get the balls to show it to somebody. Even then, they come back with notes and you go back into the cave. Oh yes, we have our glass of wine and our cigarette and we're typing away tirelessly. It's all like some romanticized struggle that is actually probably so unnecessary.
But does it feel like if you don't struggle, you can't create?
Sometimes. I remember feeling very much that way in college. Like, "Oh no, I'm so happy that I just got heartbroken or whatever. I can work with this." But actually I think a much better place of creating comes from sleeping really well. From not drinking alcohol, from exercising, eating well, and having really healthy relationships. It's like, why not? Why not do that?
Let's do that.
The conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.