Check out our interview with viral comedian and author Devrie Brynn Donalson who is best known for her witty, relatable, feminist-toned videos that are equal parts heart and humor – which have gained her 800K+ TikTok followers and over 100K on Instagram. A storyteller and social media fast-talker, Donalson has developed a huge global following who appreciates her off-beat funny bone and unbridled authenticity as she chronicles her pursuit of a life well-lived.
She became a viral sensation while documenting her journey of quitting her job and flying to Scotland to restart her life. Along the way, she’s inspired the masses with the bravery to ditch the old to find happiness in the new. Devrie continues to captivate her audience unveiling the ups, downs, and at times backwards nature of what living on your own truly looks like.
Beyond the laughs she consistently provides viewers, Devrie’s content at its core explores mental health, self-love, and self-acceptance. After many requests from her followers to capture her video content on paper, Devrie just released her debut nonfiction book YOU’RE GONNA DIE ALONE (& OTHER EXCELLENT NEWS).
Follow Devrie @devriebrynn
Hi Devrie, please tell us a little about you?
I like to describe myself as a semi-professional internet clown, a slinger of words, a lover of wit, and above all, a storyteller of things great and small.
I rattle off funny, fast diddies on the internet and write shockingly soulful funny diddies in the written word. I love dogs, was a floral designer for 10 years, love karaoke, dream of having a ton of recipes I can whip up from memory and impressing at least 5 people I dearly want to impress, and I believe in making things (even pain) count for something.
I eat cheese and gluten despite severe intolerances, I can’t dance worth a dime, I love Nic Cage movies, and I wear my grandfathers’ rings when I want to feel bolstered. I’m hopelessly sentimental and will save a ticket stub or train ticket or receipt from a sunny day in June with a good friend that felt like magic for the next 30 years and won’t question it once.
I hope you like my book.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Doing My Best
How did you get started into the business?
I was born with communication skills well beyond my age. My mother will attest to this. She loves to tell how I refused to cry as she held me in her arms in a fluorescent hospital room, but rather stared each attendee of my birth in the eyes, one by one, very clearly saying, “This meeting could have been an email.”
I loved to write from the time I could hold a pen. At some point, though, it stopped being something I considered as a profession. After college, I stumbled from thing to thing, trying on hat after hat, and nothing felt right. It wasn’t until I went on a too-hot hike in June of 2020 and shared my feelings about that to social media that I remembered my passion for spinning a yarn. My first TikTok went viral out the gate, and overnight I had 10 thousand new followers.
I considered that a grand opportunity from the universe, and continued creating little monologue style videos, funny and fast-talking, every day for over a year without a break. I believed that my burgeoning TikTok page was a case study for me as a writer, a performer, and a storyteller. Someone had to be watching, so I knew I had to keep working.
One day I told the moon and only the moon I would write a book of poetry to heal my inner teen. I would self-publish, and it would only sell a few copies (to my grandmothers, probably) and that would be enough for me, but I was going to be a writer. The moon is the best wingman ever, though, because within three weeks I had a DM from my now Literary Agent asking Please God, had I ever considered writing?
That brings us to now. A published author. My inner teen’s god complex is absolutely raging.
How has this changed your life?
It is no small exaggeration when I say my entire life is different than it was a year and a half ago. This book, this opportunity – the support and companionship of everyone who has followed along online – has given me everything. I hope I can make you all proud.
Tell us about your work as an author?
My work was built with a lot of tools and thoughts and reasons, but some of my favorites are as follows:
For every project I begin, I start with the moment the reader, viewer, audience member, etc. reads the last page, sees the credits roll, or glimpses the final bow. How do I want them to feel? What do I want them to think? Do I want them to know something new about themself? Do I want them to question what they’ve always believed? Do I want them angry at something unfair? Do I want them heartbroken over something long buried? Do I want them to be seeing something hard through a new lens of humor? Start at the end. Know why you’re doing this. Make sure you believe in that moment with your whole heart, because writing is not for the feeble. You better believe you’re making a difference, or at least that you have to try.
You need fun. Remember, creativity begets creativity. Play loosens parts of the mind that have tightened up around something hard. Never forget that you’re just a little critter, like an impish raccoon stealing crackers from an unsuspecting pocket, and that you’re not meant to drive yourself mad with criticism over something like an inbox, a word count, a copy edit. Remember that you’re meant to do the best you can with your one little life, and considering that space is an endless container that dwarfs us all so significantly nothing really matters when you think about it, remember you’re supposed to have fun. Be goofy. Play. Be silly. Chase someone around the couch, jump in a pile of leaves, stick olives on the tips of your fingers before you eat them. Life is not so serious.
You need to have conviction. You might have to say things that anger a lot of people in your life, like your family or friends, in order to write the book you’re meant to write and help the people you’re meant to help. You may find that you have to kill off your favorite character, and you’ll sob into your hands and onto the cat in your lap for hours. It will be tempting to try to fudge the numbers, smudge the plot, find a way around the things that hurt like hell – don’t. If you’re going to write, write like you mean it. Be willing to lose some things in the pursuit of something greater. The cost of impact is often comfort.
My advice for aspiring writers is: be brave. Be recklessly, stupidly brave. Understand that your job is to translate some of life’s most horrible moments into an easier language, so that someone else can take what you wrote and say, “This. This is me.” Your job is to provide someone else a witness. First, you have to witness yourself. If you can’t extend compassion to who you’ve been, you won’t be able to write a book for very many people at all.
What mindsets helped making you so successful?
The only way out is through.
The universe rewards people with good intentions who want to put good into the world.
Bet on yourself.
People’s opinions of you are none of your business.
Hold love with loose hands. Don’t suffocate the things you’re desperate to keep. What’s meant to be yours will be yours.
Give love for free, not transactionally.
Be brave. Be brave, damnit.
Be who you are on purpose.
What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
The real work starts after you write the book. This is a hard and lonely path, honestly! Try to find people who understand your journey and build community with them. And save your strength for the marketing part. Compared to marketing your book? The rest is easy.
Any advice to entrepreneurs out there?
Be your own biggest fan. There are a million people frothing at the mouth to be a critic. You only have one you. Let someone else be your critic. You be your cheerleader. Let someone else tell you no. You tell yourself yes.
Now tell us about your new book “YOU’RE GONNA DIE ALONE (& OTHER EXCELLENT NEWS)?”
I’ll let the book jacket do the talking for me 🙂
Dear reader just doing your best,
Give me a minute, and I’ll tell you a story.
I’ll tell you about my junior high soulmate, my haunted house, and running away to Scotland to lose my virginity. I’ll tell you about my ardent belief in the power of cheese and the goodness of pigeons, the rules for attending my funeral, and my struggle to reconcile feminism with Brazilian bikini waxes. I’ll tell you about my greatest failures and the many ways I have suffered because of my fear. I’ll tell you about my greatest triumphs and exactly how I figured out how to be a person I’m proud of.
If you’ve ever felt the visceral fear of being abandoned or the anxious anticipation of change, you might find something here like hope or validation. If you’ve ever wondered if you had it in you to start over, or if you’ve found yourself questioning what you’ve always believed, you might find a road map to navigating both.
I can’t say I know a lot, but my life has been one of many lessons. The wisdom I have managed to collect while the universe desperately chased me down, clobbering me with things to learn while I scurried around like an oblivious rat in search of abandoned street pizza, I happily share with you now.
What I hope you find in these pages is a little laughter, a little healing, and permission to be okay. I hope you find the courage to embrace change and the sudden joy of believing you have always, always been enough. Above all and against all odds, from one pizza rat to another, I hope you feel seen.
Why and when did you decided to write about the topic of the book?
I decided to write about change and being alone after I experienced the loss of my two best friendships and I was grieving alone in Scotland. My agent suggested the topic of finding your people as a potential book, and it hit me. No. I needed to write about finding yourself, and about knowing that finding yourself was the key to finding everyone else.
Where can we buy it?
Barnes & Noble, ask your local bookstore to order you a copy, or find it online!
What book should every entrepreneur read?
Bird by Bird by Anne Lammott.
Now let’s talk about your super popular videos? How and why did you decided to create your own videos?
I got really overheated on a hike and posted a rant about it to social media. My first ever TikTok, and I had no clue what I was doing. It got 9 million views. The decision was made!
What is different from your videos and brand to other ones in the market?
My voice is very distinct, my wit is very fast, and my audience is very specific. There are a lot of funny women in the world – none of them are me. And I’m none of them! Thank God! We need as many of us as we can get!
How often do you release new content and how many hours a week you dedicate your time to this?
It’s different every week. Promoting the book is a full time job on its own without any immediate financial reward, so rebalancing life has been difficult. But the short answer is I dedicate a ton of time to it. I’m never not thinking about content. I’m never not working.
Any advice to other influencers/entrepreneurs?
Be. Yourself. The only way to keep being successful is to be producing content that is sustainable. The only way to be sustainable is to be your effing self. People need to like your stuff because they like you, or you’ll be a flash in the pan. And who wants to be faking it on the internet anyways? Sounds absolutely exhausting.
If you need to pick TikTok or Instagram. What goes first? Why?
TikTok is where I have the biggest following by far, but it’s also the most fickle and frustrating. Instagram is steadily growing, but has a different community than those on TikTok. They both have their ups and downs. I love both my parents equally.
As a popular influencer you are followed by so many young girls. How do you feel about that pressure of doing always the right thing, and encourage people to follow their dreams?
I feel like it is an honor to be in a position of influence. I am endlessly grateful to be a person others look to as an example. It provides me the opportunity to 1. Decide who I am 2. To Tell people who I am, and 3. To prove it. Not everyone gets such a chance to live a life on purpose. I also truly believe in the messages I share – I believe that women should be able to change, that you should find comfort in your own company, that you are never too far gone to change your life, that you have to pursue the passions of your one little soul and trust the universe – and it’s been a challenge and an incredible gift to be able to test my theories about how the world works in real time in front of so many people who are rooting for me.
What do you think makes someone great comparing to other content creators?
I don’t think comparison is a constructive tool unless it’s being used very specifically, so I’ll just say what I think makes my content great.
I try to make everything I post something that you might toss into a group text with your sisters, or send to your best friend and say “Us. This is so us. This is so me. This is so you.” I try to make people feel seen. I try to make them feel witnessed. I try to make them laugh. My content has substance beyond what I think can be cheap trends that exacerbate unhealthy relationships with beauty and body. My content is made with heart, intention, and just the right amount of chaos.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is hearing from real people who have changed their life because of something I did or said. Sometimes all we need is to see someone else model how to do something, and then we can figure it out for our own lives. It has been an astounding honor to be the person who did something wild enough to let somebody imagine what their own life might look like wild.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
I wrote a whole book about that. (Ahem).
I suppose if I had to pick one, just for this evening, I’d say the way that people can or can’t love you has a lot more to do with them than it has to do with you.
How would your best friend describe you?
Witty, playful, funny, compassionate, intelligent, loyal, intentional, and a true lover of cheesy tours on vacation.
What’s next for Devrie Donalson in the last months of 2023 and for 2024?
You’re Gonna Die Alone (& Other Excellent News) comes out on October 3, so my life is largely eclipsed with that at the moment. I’m not sure what to expect, but I know it will be tons of work and tons of (hopefully) fun. I have multiple other projects in the pipeline I’m working away on, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to announce a new book deal soon! And I’m working on a one woman show I’d love to put on in New York the beginning of next year. Plus, I’m taking a trip of excellent internet folk to Scotland on a group trip of a lifetime in May!
What is your own definition of happiness?
My definition of happiness is two parts: 1. Freedom. Freedom, to me, means living a life I got to choose. I don’t need to always be able to get up and move to a new country, but I do need to know that if I can’t, it’s because the thing I’m tethered to is a thing I chose to be tethered to. And 2. Impact. I have always wanted to do the most good I could for the most amount of people in the world. I don’t feel fulfilled unless I’m actively working toward that goal. I want to to help people, I want to make the world a better place. If my life is accomplishing those things? I’m happy.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I think I would like to spend a long day with Jane Austen or Mary Oliver. I know these aren’t original or inspiring, but Jane wrote of things so deeply relevant to the modern woman as a very young woman herself a long time ago. A slice of her wit and wisdom over a long brunch would do me very well, I’d think. And Mary? Oh, Mary. Half the things she writes move me to tears. I’d like to hear right from her what she thinks the most important things to remember are.
Best advice ever given?
If you’re wrong, make sure you’re wrong for the right reasons.
Do you support any charity?
I personally donate to mutual aid when I can. I try to fund people’s needs directly and participate in community caretaking.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
Five years from now I hope to be a household name in discerning households. I want to have multiple best sellers across genres, television, and film adaptations I’ve written, produced, and maybe even dabbled in directing on. I also hope to have had a successful run of one woman shows – especially one that sells out at The Fringe in Edinburgh.
Favorite song? Why?
To Be Loved by Adele. It’s a raw portrait of a woman who tried. She didn’t get it right, but she tried, and even in the depths of her grief, there is enough of her that realizes trying was all she could have done. I have never felt so witnessed by a song.
What do you think of Social Media?
Social media is a tool that can create great positive impact and great negative impact. I believe the people responsible for the platforms should consider the implications of their pursuit of money over connection, and should be held responsible for the ways social media has been used to create and organize violence against marginalized people. On the other hand, it has changed the lives of so many people, mine included. Giving good hearted humans the chance to come together and forge communities is a wonderful thing.
It is complex with the capacity for greatness and tragedy.
Where we can follow you?
Choose your favorite…
Book: Bird by Bird by Anne Lammott
Quote: “I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable, beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.” – Mary Oliver
TV Series: Fleabag
Food: Crunchy ice cubes, really good pizza, fried ice cream
Travel Destination: The UK, Italy, Portugal
Sports Team: Los Angeles Kings (Ice Hockey)