The Modern Mrs. Maisel: Libby Walker Wanted To Deliver Smiles During COVID So She Became A “Jewish Influencer”

Libby Walker & Mrs. Maisel Courtesy Maurice Birnbaum & Nicole Revelli/Amazon Prime Video
Libby Walker got a frantic phone call from her mother just a month before Passover. This is something that almost every young Jewish person can relate to.

She was like "Oh my gawd! How are we going to do Passover seder with Zoom?" It is so difficult to use, who will show it to the grandparents? Nobody can set up an account. Who are we going to have? This person is impossible to have. Libby recalls that they might have the COVID during a very ironic Zoom conversation with Forbes Entertainment.

Libby, a native New York City resident, was 23 years old and living in Buffalo. She was nearing the completion of her BFA in acting. As if that wasn't enough anxiety, the world was closing down and several professional job interviews were cancelled. Im alone in Buffalo and listening to my mom panic on the phone about this seder.

Libby, like many members of Generation Z, found herself with a lot of time to spare in the wake a global pandemic. She turned to TikTok. The stereotypically overbearing Jewish matriarch, Sheryl Cohen, was born. Libby explains that Sheryl is a mix of her mom Rachel Brosnahans Midge Maisel, Fran Dreschers Fran Fin (The Nanny), Maggie Wheelers Janice and Maggie Wheelers Janice.

She explains that I simply imitated the conversation, and created a video titled Jews on Passover This Year. I began to do more videos and started getting more traffic. People started reaching out to me saying, "I love this." Thank you for making me smile during a very stressful time.

Everybody knows a Sheryl. Libby continues, "Everybody knows a Sheryl." It's hilarious and even fun, especially during COVID when you go back to live with your loved ones. It was great fun to channel that energy.

Libby's mother isn't asking for a piece of the social media profit, at least not yet. She has always been supportive. She supported me in my passion for acting and took me to auditions and classes. She supported me in my decision to focus on the business side and said that she had a great ear for talent and a keen sense of how to place them.

The first video was posted in spring 2020. TikTok uploaded it to their official Instagram account. Soon after, brand deals began to come in. It was a development that Libby had never imagined would happen. I was like "Who are you?" Are you a real person? She admits that she didn't know brand deals were people who want to send free stuff to her address.

Libby has partnered to date with TheraBreath and Meet Jew University. She also makes Arizona iced tea, Tubi-60 alcohol, Bridged, Chip City and Hillel International. All this while working full-time as a social media manager at Kii NYC, an organization for young Jewish professionals. It would end eventually, I thought. She says it was either the attention or the attraction. It was not something I had in my plans, and I now consider myself to be a Jewish influencer.

Libby Walker Courtesy Maurice Birnbaum

Libby is a natural performer, despite the unexpected twist of events. As a child, I spent my recess writing plays and creating E.T. She still remembers Mary Poppins 2 and Mary Poppins 2, and how they charged people for overpriced tickets. Theater was in my blood.

She fell in love with performing and eventually met Alan Zweibel, a veteran screenwriter and playwright she studied under her last semester at college. Zweibel was the co-writer and producer of Billy Crystal's latest directorial effort, Here Today. He has been a mentor figure for Libby ever since. His comedy class at the University at Buffalo was also a major inspiration for Sheryl, who is now a YouTube star called Jewish Mom Approved (see the below).

Alan's most valuable piece of advice? Keep pushing and keep knocking. Be persistent. If you don't ask, so many opportunities could pass you by.

Libby, a Manhattanite who grew up in a Jewish family and attended a modern orthodox synagogue within the fast-paced concrete jungle that never sleeps, doesn't mind this in-your-face attitude.

I am a city-born and raised kid. I won't eat un-kosher meat or shellfish and don't know how to drive. Sorry, Olivia Rodrigo, she quips. I have never received my drivers license nor my permit. I have only used my Metro Card.

Rare moments were spent outside the city at Ramah, a Jewish camp for sleepaway Jews. She says that this was the foundation of my entire Jewish identity. My greatest Jewish identity was always the community, and my mutual friends. I played a major role in Chabad at college. I was the person who got everyone to Shabbat services. It's convincing people to attend events. They think that Libby is gonna be there. If she hypes something up, it cant possibly be boring.

It hasn't been all fun and games. Libby was caught in the middle of a swarm of anti-Semitic comments after posting a camp-related video. Instead of allowing TikTok to bully her, Libby made sure she reported all comments and encouraged a dialog on Clubhouse.

It is important to speak up. She says that I'm not going to try to keep silent. I thought, OK, can I take a break? What if I don't take a break? No! No! What is the point of having so much anger when there has been a pandemic? People are dying. These are not funny situations to laugh about.

Libby, like any comedian, has a dark sense humor about the situation.

As of the writing of this article, Libbys TikTok has more than 26,000 followers and nearly one million likes. She asks, "Could I have more followers?" Yes, everyone could have more followers. But I prefer to see the small accomplishments as great accomplishments. People pay the big bucks because they are interested in detail.

Although TikTok was originally a dance app, it has quickly evolved into a marketplace for entertainment and ideas. So much so that Libby holds a week-in-review centered on lessons learned from TikTok every Friday when Shabbat (the Jewish Day of Rest) rolls around.

She concludes that TikTok is being used more by people than I thought. This is how people learn about so many things. Every week at Shabbat, I ask Kii, "How did you find this information?" And every time someone replies, it's like, "Okay, now let me try." I have had many conversations with actors, musicians, and businesses. You can really make it big with social media if you're willing to put in the effort.

This is something we can all drink to. Lchaim!