You might see Will Mahony (sophomore) on the Academic Quad or on your TikTok’s For You page. Mahony makes videos covering various subjects — from bringing a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama to his high school to carefully producing theme songs for national food chains. From this content, Mahony gained 2 million followers on TikTok and over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube.
“I’ve always loved doing little skits and stuff,” Mahony said. “Since I was 12, [I was] trying new things, seeing what works and what doesn’t.”
Mahony’s most viewed videos on YouTube are comedic videos of him interviewing students at his his high school. He is also a part of The House Nobody Asked For, a collective of creators who lived and worked together.
“It was during [COVID-19] quarantine, and all these [content] houses were popping up,” Mahony said. “And we were like, ‘There’s no comedy house,’ [so] I just reached out to my favorite comedy creators and was like, ‘Let’s move to LA in an Airbnb and make content together.’”
According to Jake Sacks, Mahony’s friend from his high school in Medford, Oregon, starting the creator group was largely Mahony’s idea. Sacks also said that Mahony hand-picked creators he believed to share his values, and each member of the house gained their own significant following.
One such value is Mahony’s creative integrity, which he said he holds in high regard when creating content.
“I know that TikTok is objectively bad for a lot of people’s mental health,” Mahony said. “The only thing I can do is try to make it as positive as possible.”
Dane Stewart is also Mahony’s friend from high school. Stewart said he was able to witness Mahony’s initial burst into the social media spotlight.
“He really likes to be proud of his work,” Stewart said. “[He’s] making sure he’s putting out the best content for people.”
In order to post what he believes are the best videos, Mahony said he enjoys dipping his toes into different kinds of content. Social media, he said, gives him the opportunity to do all the things he is interested in, such as writing and editing.
“There’s so much pressure to pick [a certain content area], because that’s what keeps people coming back,” Mahony said. “I know that I could make content for the largest possible audience, but it wouldn’t be that cool.”
Mahony said more competing considerations arose when content creation became his job.
“I feel like there’s been a weird balance between money-grabbing and creative merit,” Mahony said. “I’m here to make cool stuff, but also I have to pay the bills. [There are] a lot of ways to get money out of people on social media. The question is the morality of it and what I want to be known for.”
Being a student and a content creator, Mahony said he found it hardest to keep creating during the less busy times in his life.
“I took a gap year, and after The House Nobody Asked For, I would rarely work, especially when I was demotivated,” Mahony said. “But now, I have to get up for classes, and I have a designated period in between classes where I want to script. Doing it when I don’t want to is the biggest part of discipline and overall success.”
He said the self-motivation is something he encouraged his fans to practice, in one of his videos.
“I did this thing where I gave people five dollars to clean their room, [because] I’m a big believer that your environment can be the culmination of your mental health,” Mahony said. “So giving people a little push, I got a lot of DMs that were like, ‘I’ve been in this nasty depression so long, [but] this brought me so much joy,’ and ‘I genuinely think you saved my life.’”
According to Sacks, Mahony lifts up his friends too, encouraging their ambition with his own.
“His influence on me has really pushed me to dive into [my goals] and have an expectation to be great,” Sacks said.
Sacks said Mahony’s presence in his life has definitely guided his own creativity.
“I’ve realized over the last year that when I’m not creating, I’m frustrated that I’m not creating,” Mahony said. “This is what I want to do, [and] I think that this is what I’m meant to do.”
You can find Mahony’s content on TikTok and YouTube, and keep up with him on Instagram @wahony