Selfie Stick Sensation: Doll Check In With Devin Halbal

Creating viral moments just comes naturally to Internet star Devin Halbal
Creating viral moments just comes naturally to Internet star Devin Halbal, who is affectionately known as Tiktok's favourite 'Kudasai Girl'
BIMBA Y LOLA dress, earring, kitten heels

Travelling solo may be a daunting task for some, but for digital creator Devin Halbal, who goes by the alias @hal.baddie on Tiktok, months of exploring the world on her own has been nothing short of rewarding—not to mention that it has given her some of her biggest career wins yet. Armed with a selfie stick, Halbal first went viral on Tiktok two years ago for her “Doll Check-in” content. The simple act of having a mental check-in with herself sparked an Internet movement amongst the self-care-parched, pandemic-fatigued digital crowd. It wasn’t long before other creators and everyday folk were conducting “doll check-ins” with themselves too.

Since then, the New York City native has remained on our radar, but now—thanks to another spark of inspiration on Tiktok—she’s come to be known affectionately by another moniker: the Kudasai Girl.  

The pivotal moment came when Halbal planned a two-week solo trip to Japan for a quick break. As a self-proclaimed “Solo Goddess”, Halbal was strolling through the streets of Japan alone, when she decided to practise some Japanese phrases. Out came her trusty selfie stick, and right then and there, she started singing, “Sushi kudasai, ocha kudasai, mizu kudasai”. Halbal’s enchanting earworm soon took over the Internet, and within mere days, her video went viral on Tiktok, and cemented Halbal as the cultural icon of the moment. 

With an ardent following of nearly 1 million devoted fans, each imploring her to visit their city, it’s an incredible stroke of luck when Halbal—who had already visited Hong Kong, South Korea and Bangladesh—announced that she would be coming to Singapore for her Asia tour.  

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to shoot the rising star and, while on set with GRAZIA Singapore, the globetrotter opened up about representation, the biggest pinch-me moments in her career and what led her on this worldwide tour to begin with: a crazy dream and a selfie stick.

Creating viral moments just comes naturally to Internet star Devin Halbal, who is affectionately known as Tiktok's favourite 'Kudasai Girl'
COACH hoodie; SWAROVSKI necklace, choker; Devin’s own earpiece

Can you share how your journey on Tiktok began, and what led to the viral Kudasai video?  

I started about two years ago, posting one 10-30 second video every single day. Then I took a break for a little bit to focus on my mental health for a few months last year. In January of 2024, I decided to go to Japan for what I thought would be a two-week solo vacation for sightseeing. I was in Kurashiki, Okayama practising some basic words that I was learning in Japanese. The date was 27 January 2024. Around 1pm, I was on a walk and decided to take out my selfie stick and sing “Kudasai”. I don’t know why that word was stuck in my head all day. I didn’t expect it to go that viral. Within a few days, I started to get a lot of comments in Japanese applauding me. Japanese people from all different prefectures were asking me to visit their city and town. It was very surreal.  

Through all your snappy Tiktok videos and unfiltered Instagram posts, what is the message for your audience at the heart of all your content?  

The primary message that I want to share with my followers is that we are all family and that we should all have love and respect for each other—regardless of where we come from, what we look like, or who we are. I love learning about new places and trying new foods, and my content gives me the opportunity to learn about the world as well as interact with locals from different places. My ideal world is one of love and kindness and acceptance—for everyone. 

You’ve become known for your energy and positivity. How did you find the strength and confidence to put yourself out there at the beginning of your journey? 

The confidence and strength come from within. I try my best to do whatever I want and not be scared of doing unconventional things with my career. I’m a dreamer, forever dreaming, and I love to be creative. I’m very thankful for Tiktok, for giving me the opportunity to follow my dreams and connect me with others who believe in my dreams and support me.

How do you stay bright even on bad days? Do you have any daily affirmations or mantras you practise? 

On bad days, I usually speak to my friends, go for a walk, journal, and cry a lot. Life isn’t easy. And we all go through periods of grief and heartache. However, I try my best to remind myself of how much love exists in this universe and how lucky I am to be able to share my love and joy with others. Joy is very special and I think trying to remain joyful in my day to day life is another aspect of my content that resonates with people. 

Creating viral moments just comes naturally to Internet star Devin Halbal, who is affectionately known as Tiktok's favourite 'Kudasai Girl'
COACH hoodie, tights; BIMBA Y LOLA boots; SWAROVSKI necklace

What started as a quick vacation from your home ground in New York is now a full-fledged world tour. How does interacting with fans and followers during your offline meet-ups feel? 

At first, I couldn’t believe that so many people wanted to meet me in real life. I would get a lot of messages asking to meet up and so I decided to have my first meet and greet in Beirut, Lebanon in 2023, when I had fewer followers. So many people showed up! My meet and greets are a very beautiful experience. It is a place where everyone is welcome. We sing, we smile, we dance, and we share our happiness with one another. I love it. And I am very, very grateful for my fans. Their love and support always make me tear up.  

How are you navigating this new life of touring across the world? What are some lessons that this whole experience has taught you? 

I’m getting used to being jet lagged a lot (laughs). But if there is anything that this experience has taught me is that love is universal, happiness is universal, and kindness is universal. People may not even understand what I’m saying in my videos, but the vibes are there and they feel my presence through their screens. Human connection is important and helps people feel less alone in this world.

Main image: BIMBA Y LOLA coat; COACH skirt; SWAROVSKI chokers. Top left images: BIMBA Y LOLA dress, earring; Devin’s own selfie stick, iPhone.

Tell us about the biggest ‘pinch-me’ moment of your journey so far. 

Every time I get recognised, it is a pinch-me moment. But one of the happiest memories I have is of a group of kids running up to me in the mall—they looked like they had just graduated. I was just so surprised that they knew who I was. And they were so happy to see me and asked me to sing “Kudasai” with them. I hope that is a positive memory for them. 

Another pinch-me moment was seeing [one of my first fashion photoshoots] in real life. I want to do more fashion shoots and I want to see more people like me on covers [of] magazines, in advertisements and billboards all over the world. 

What does success look like for you? 

Success for me looks like doing whatever makes me happy. Success is also not letting your life be defined by other people’s goals and expectations for you. Success is being unapologetically yourself. I am so privileged that this is my life and that I get to be creative.  

I hope to retire one day, somewhere near a beach and have a pet or two.   

What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in five years? 

I am open to wherever the universe takes me in five years. I would like to narrate a documentary or try voice acting. I also want to continue doing fashion shoots and being a [symbol of] representation for people who look like me.

Creating viral moments just comes naturally to Internet star Devin Halbal, who is affectionately known as Tiktok's favourite 'Kudasai Girl'
BIMBA Y LOLA coat; COACH skirt; SWAROVSKI chokers



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