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Halle Burns Is Providing FoodTok With The Good Vibes It Needs

This month, TikTok food creator Halle Burns is in the hot seat to answer our burning questions. In Next Question, Her Campus rapid-fire interviews emerging Gen Z talent about what it’s like to rule over the Internet.

When I chat with Halle Burns, aka ballehurns on TikTok, I’m immediately struck by how friendly she is. She’s just gotten back from the gym, she tells me, but where most people would be exhausted or listless, Burns is bright and enthusiastic — she talks about her excitement to cook in her new apartment, and shares her thoughts with me on the future of media now that Gen Z gets most of their news from TikTok rather than the New York Times. As we pivot from discussing her post-grad career (she’s almost 21, and starting senior year of college) to her music recommendations, she never loses that attentive and serene energy that’s endeared her audience of 2.2 million followers and counting to her. She even emails me after our talk with an extra song she’s been listening to lately.

I’m not the only one who feels comforted by Burns’s good vibes. Her content, which spans from TikTok recipes for two-ingredient crepes to lifestyle YouTube videos titled things like “confessions of a wannabe minimalist” and “a video about life when you’re 20,” are a breath of fresh air among social media algorithms riddled with drama and sensationalism. She’s like the antithesis to the pink sauce drama that’s been looming over FoodTok for the past few weeks — Burns’s videos verge on ASMR levels of relaxation, and her comments section is full of praise for her creativity with ingredients like freeze-dried fruit (the word “genius” is thrown around more than once).

For Burns herself, having millions of online friends may also ironically mean feeling lonelier. “I think working online kind of divides me in a way,” she tells me. “It eats up a lot of time, so I spend a lot more time alone than I would like to. And it’s easy to film and record yourself doing all these fun things, but I think it’s just really important to have balance.” Still, she remains optimistic about her future in content creation. Below, Burns shares more about her work as a food content creator, her perspective as a member of Gen Z, and the music she’s been loving lately.

1. WHAT’S ONE THING THE INTERNET DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT YOU WISH THEY DID?

It’s actually something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. There’s a common theme in media, I think, of romanticizing the single life and making it seem very easy. I never had roommates in college, and now I have my own apartment and I’m a senior, and that’s like a common shift for a lot of people, but one thing that I think I try to emphasize in my content and would like other people to know is that it’s hard to live on your own.

It’s very easy to make it look fun when you fill your life with all these fun activities. But yeah, it takes a lot of work and, I don’t know, just constant mental checks. I think I’d just like to emphasize that it’s hard for me too, even if it’s my job to make it look fun because I’m creating content in this space.

2. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE GEN Z IN THREE WORDS?

I would choose — I don’t know if unique is the right word. I want to say diverse, maybe? I think Gen Z is very open, and adaptive, and constantly evolving. So words that would describe that, I guess. I don’t know, I need to look at a thesaurus!

I’m astounded by all of the things I see — specifically on TikTok, I love my For You Page, it’s addictive. But the amount of information and just niches people have that observe all these different ways of life, like the fashion world and how it’s evolving, the advertising and how it’s evolving. I think Gen Z is very receptive to the way the world is changing. It’s really interesting to see people break it down before it happens, because it almost makes it easier to handle. It feels like everything is so fast-paced now, so when it’s broken down on the Internet, you’re like, oh, okay! I don’t have as much anxiety about the world.

3. WHICH ONLINE TREND ARE YOU TOTALLY OVER, AND WHICH IS HERE TO STAY?

I’m always super sensitive to — just because I’m in the food space, specifically — comparison-esque videos, where you show what you eat in a day, or super diet culture-y kind of recipes. I try to be very aware of what can be sensitive or triggering to some people, so in the food space, I would just say videos that make other foods seem good and bad. Just because I know that as a young girl, and with a lot of young female viewers, that can be a very sensitive and triggering subject.

In general, though, TikTok is full of so much, I don’t think there’s anything online that surprises me. Even if something is a bad trend, I feel like it’s necessary in order for people to realize that it’s bad, and then learn from it. Having bad trends is why we get the trends that are like, “This is toxic!” and then it’s like, a big lesson for social media. I don’t know, I think it’s important to have bad trends.

I love the videos that I’m seeing that are very casual, real, sit-down, talk to the camera, whether it’s like a storytime or a random cooking video or a try-on haul. I think I started out making content that’s very curated. It always has music in the background, I always edit out the parts where I am doing something not as smoothly. So I love just seeing people organically living and in their space. It’s a style of video I’m a seeing a lot more recently now, and it’s so much easier to connect to because it just feels like you’re FaceTiming someone.

4. WHAT ARE YOU MANIFESTING FOR THE NEXT STAGE OF YOUR CAREER?

When I started TikTok, I always wanted it to be a fun addition to my life, versus making it into a career. I think so many people have been able to make social media a career. I’m still in the early stages of it, so I don’t know how far I’m going to take it or go with it.

I hope to stay in the cooking realm. I’m so excited about this new kitchen — I just moved in, and I feel like I’m going to be doing a lot of cooking, at least until I graduate. Post-grad, though, I really hope to stay in the content creation space. I know I really found something that I’m good at and that I can repeat a lot, which is the ASMR-y cooking videos. But I think what’s cool about finding a hobby like that that you’re good at is, it doesn’t just mean that I have to stay in the video creation cooking realm. It can lead me in a lot of other directions.

I’m just happy that I found a hobby that has been able to teach me more about my major, which is communications. So I hope that it all connects somehow, and that it leads to a good opportunity. Do I know what that good opportunity is? No. Not at all. And I wish I did, because it feels like I have some sort of leg up, but really I just — I don’t know! I don’t know what to do yet. But I hope if I stick at it and just keep growing, I can make something come of it.

It really feels like in this age, especially people my age are seemingly becoming successful so early. So there’s a lot of outer pressure to also be successful even at 21, and it’s like, what? I did not know I need to have my life figured out by now. So, yeah, I’m just taking my time.

5. WHAT ARE THE FIRST THREE SONGS ON YOUR SPOTIFY “ON REPEAT” PLAYLIST?

Ooh, can I go look? I haven’t been very good at listening to new music lately, but I’ve been playing this ’70s and ’80s folk favorites playlist, so… And I’ve also been listening to — she was on Stranger Things? Maya Hawke! I’ve been listening to Maya Hawke lately. She has great music.

“Suzanne” — Judy Collins

“If I Had The World To Give” — The Grateful Dead

“By Myself” — Maya Hawke

“Only When I” — Alice Phoebe Lou

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Erica Kam

Columbia Barnard '21

Erica is an Editor at Her Campus. She was formerly an Associate Editor (2021-22), Contributing Editor (2020-21), Wellness Editor (2019-20), High School Editor (2018-19), and Editorial Intern (2018). She graduated from Barnard College in 2021 with a degree in English and creative writing, and was the Senior Editor of Her Campus Columbia Barnard (2018-21). When she's not writing or editing (which is rare), she's probably looking at food pictures on Instagram.
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