Is the goal to stay on TikTok or eventually move to a different platform?I wouldn’t mind putting her on other platforms, especially other streaming services, just because I feel like she deserves to have her name in the light. Photography: Michael Spencer
Styling: Star Burleigh
Makeup: Lilly Keys
Nails: Jolene Brodeur I’ve never used it. She’s predictable in an unpredictable way. If for some reason I decided, right after I hung up this call, to download TikTok; can you give me some entry level tips?Well, what’s your goal for that? And then I just got inspired by myself, my childhood growing up and, like you said, everybody knows this Rosa character and I felt that she had been forgotten about… Like a Rosa sitcom?I would. Besides Rihanna.Ooh, that’s a good one. So, to see that I’m able to do this with millions of people. If a co-sign from Rihanna isn’t proof that you’ve reached a pop culture peak, what is?PAPER spoke with Okay about his massive rise, how he’s handling quarantine and touching the same doorknob as Rihanna.The world’s pretty crazy right now. Maybe I will download TikTok today and I’ll be able to say that it was inspired by you. She wants everybody to be themselves, she wants nobody to be afraid of who they really are, and to express that in their own way. If I just want to start by watching other people’s content and then maybe get inspired and start making my own. She has a lot of constructive criticism, so I feel that would be something that she definitely enjoys.What would her number one fashion tip be?Let’s see, she’ll probably definitely consider angles, but all in all it would be creativity. So it definitely was a huge welcome and there was so much that I got to experience from the other beauty creators. I would say Troye Sivan. @adamrayokay on Instagram: “That messy girl who thinks everyone is staring at them😂😩 #pincherosa”
I know that you have a lot of celebrity fans, what has been the biggest gag of seeing someone like or share your content? Yeah. She’s a really bold character that has to have her own identification.I know that I am currently interviewing Adam, but if you could ask Rosa a question, what would it be?Probably relationship advice.Would she give good relationship advice?She would. I was posting makeup and I gained 14 followers. the fact that I’m able to put my community out there like that, for everybody to understand who she is and where she came from; is a good thing to me. So, even if you didn’t grow up with somebody like her, you know how she is. Like I said, putting my first video up there, I didn’t expect any of this to happen. It’s so good. So I feel no matter where you put her, she’s going to do really well. It gives you 60 seconds to just be exactly who you want to be. So do you think that we’re now at this place socially where that’s the way our attention span works, that we need to be consuming things in these small increments and that that means the content has to be even better?That’s a good question. I feel like right now is a time where I have to be on my grind with making content, just because there’s so many people that look forward to it and so many people get joy out of it. @adamrayokay on Instagram: “You can’t ask Rosa to do anything for you!!! If Rosa could be a guest star on any TV show, what would it be?Oh, it would probably be Project Runway. So it was cool to see how putting a room full of creators together and how we can come up with so many different ideas. It’s so dope to see other creators discuss that.I have a confession to make: I’m not on TikTok. So that’s still what they’re there for. And then I ended up doing something else and it worked out for me and now that’s my biggest platform.Would you ever want to do something that’s a little more long form? So being able to see how everybody else does it differently. Comedy skits for sure. I had six followers when I first started. @adamrayokay on Instagram: “A BANANA???!😩 #pincherosa”
So often when I see people share your videos on Twitter, especially Lantinx people are constantly saying “I know this girl.” Do you think that’s part of why Rosa has resonated so much with people?For sure. How are you handling that?I’m just trying to stay positive [and] I want to make other people feel positive. So I’m just trying to put as much content on there as possible, on the internet. That experience was crazy.Did you get to meet or interact with Rihanna at all?I didn’t but I did touch the same doorknob as her. She’s just a character that I created. It’s work, you know? That was so iconic. That’s where I saw so many different talents. That’s going to be where you see all the talent. She was a bold character that everybody just loves. So I feel like TikTok is for sure the future of just everything.People always say that if you can’t get someone’s attention in the first 10 seconds, or make someone laugh in the first 10 seconds, then you’ve already lost them. It’s a good thing. So it made me feel good because I’m able to put my community out there like that, in a positive way. And that’s always been something that I’ve tried to do that you’ve been in my personal life. Yeah, a very strong character, so even when I do talk about Rosa, I have to use she/her [pronouns] because that’s just her. @adamrayokay on Instagram: “That one bitch who had to let the whole class know she drank on a school night😭😫 TAG A FRIEND WHO SOUNDS LIKE THIS LMAO!!”
Do you think that TikTok is the future of comedy?For sure. So I just want to make her succeed.What has it been like coming up on TikTok as the platform itself is having this incredible boom and expansion into every facet of pop culture? Different content creators work differently. So there’s always going to be that other person who does. It’s really just this feeling that I can’t explain. So this, like I said, this is a time where it is deeply needed.And Rosa telling people to wash their hands and stay home might actually get people to wash their hands and stay at home.Right.What’s your go to quarantine snack?Oh, it would have to be Maruchan. So it’s so good and that’s all it is. It’s so crazy in a good way.Your videos often get recreated by people, which obviously is a huge part of TikTok, and I sometimes see commentary online from people who think it’s appropriative for white folks to recreate your Rosa videos, like your comedy is being gentrified. I definitely enjoyed it, especially because everybody just does their makeup in a different way. And then hashtags too. I would just have to make sure that I put my all into it, which I already do with my content. So I’m winning somehow.You should never wash that hand again. Like I said earlier… I was able to go with other creators and they were so stunning. she is part of everybody.What was it like when you started realizing that you were going so viral?I was honestly shocked. It’s just this feeling that I’m able to impact other people’s lives in a positive way. I love him.As someone who identifies as male, has Rosa allowed you to play with gender, or is it solely about comedy?Definitely comedy. They’re not there for anything else.So imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery?Correct. A lot of the other TikTokers were beauty TikTokers, not people who do comedy. because sometimes short comedy skits don’t do really well when it turns to episodes or whole shows for them. Just because right now both the internet and the actual real world are in a really dark place. It’s just so much content that you can release it to so many different creators and so many different talents. So the fact that Rosa’s able to go worldwide and everybody just loves her and is able to get happiness out of it — I love it. And I don’t know, I just… What are some beginner tips?Well the “for you” page is going to be your best friend. Yeah, that’s been helping me out too.What inspired you to get on TikTok? I don’t want to make something that’s going to… but also we’re all in quarantine, so maybe it’s the time to start. No matter what social media feed you scroll, Okay’s Rosa videos have been disseminated there as clips and reaction videos, with Rosa’s catch phrases like “open your purse” becoming a favorite amongst locals on Twitter.Related | The ‘For You’ Age: How TikTok Took Over 2019Okay’s flame is burning so bright that it even caught the attention of Rihanna, securing him an invitation to the Fenty Beauty TikTok house, where he joined creators including Emmy Combs, Makayla and Kamaboko Gonpachiro. She’s not afraid to tell you how she really feels and she, even if there’s going to be some type of backlash, she’s going to stick to what she believes in. But I feel you do definitely have to take into consideration; you’re on this huge platform and not everybody is going to enjoy what you’re doing. I was able to see so many different varieties of comedy, or art, or even makeup. And people are so creative. She’s everywhere. Did you want to just view content or did you want to become a content creator?I think I have enough stuff going on that I probably don’t necessarily have the time to be creating content… So even if you don’t get noticed right off the bat, you should just keep going. And that’s just the way it is.In the midst of this pandemic, are you motivated to be creative and produce a lot?For sure, yeah. And if they don’t, they learn to love her. My videos in the beginning were made to make people happy. But I feel if I put enough creativity and enough thought into it, I can make something happen like that.Maybe a guest appearance. So definitely some cucumbers with [hot sauce] with some hot Cheetos. I just found out that there’s so many other creators that create their content in different ways. But yeah, it was so dope. So once I brought her back, everybody was just so familiar with her and that’s why I felt she did really well. If Rosa could have a feature on anyone’s album, who would it be?Ooh, I would have to say Rihanna’s. If it’s on the “for you” page, it’s great. If you have something specific that you want to discover, you can hashtag that and there’s millions and millions of something that you want to discover all on one page. What do you think Rosa’s quarantine snack would be?Hers probably has to be something spicy because she loves the heartburn. Did you feel welcomed and that you were all on the same page?Yeah, well as Adam, I enjoy beauty. So whether you’re going there for one thing to look for or you’re going to just see everything, you’ll find it there.That’s a good little tip to start out. She’s just so familiar… So if you are able to be who you are and if it’s funny [or] people enjoy it, they’re going to stick with you. It’s ramen noodles, but the brand of a noodle that makes it, I have to stick to the Maruchan.We love brand loyalty. She plays to much and falls asleep😭😭😂 #pincherose 🦋”
You were recently at the Fenty Beauty TikTok House, were you living?Yes. What’s your favorite kind of video to watch on TikTok?Makeup videos and comedy videos. So yeah, I’m just trying to stay positive.I guess, as a TikToker and content creator who largely makes content by yourself, you’re very well set up to keep making exactly the kind of content you make in quarantine.For sure. And what inspired Rosa?I had downloaded the TikTok app and I was just scrolling, doing my thing. Makeup is something that I enjoy doing. So the “for you” page is definitely where you want to be. I don’t really know how to explain what I feel whenever I see my content doing so well. Even today I get the same exact feelings that when I first went viral because I just feel it’s so crazy that I can give Rosa this platform and express who she is and where she came from and stuff that.Where would you want to see Rosa go? Even if you’ve never actually used TikTok — and as each day in quarantine goes by, that gets less likely — it’s near impossible that you haven’t been exposed to Rosa.The character has reached a kind of internet singularity in the few short months since she debuted courtesy of 20-year-old Adam Ray Okay, who has become one of the platform’s most highly followed creators almost overnight. I wasn’t really thinking of making my own content. She’s been through some things, so she’s experienced.