Got white girl problems? Babe Walker does, too

LOS ANGELES Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:17pm EST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Have a "white girl problem" and don't know where to turn? Babe Walker, Twitter's snarky, self-obsessed socialite has produced the definitive guide on how to deal with life's trivial issues in a new novel out this month.

A lot of work has gone into producing the "White Girl Problems" brand. What started as a phrase coined during an alcohol-fueled conversation one night in 2010 between friends, quickly became a business plan as brothers Tanner and David Oliver Cohen and friend Lara Schoenhals realized they had a viral trend at their fingertips.

The next day, they registered the Twitter handle @WhiteGrlProblem, then began tweeting quips such as "It's 5:16. How much weight can I lose by 8:00?" and "Judging me will only make you fat," with the hashtag '#whitegirlproblems.'

"We all realized Twitter's amazing and we thought this was incredible and a real opportunity to get out there," said Cohen, who also registered the website domain WhiteGirlProblems.com.

When "Valentine's Day" actress Emma Roberts quoted White Girl Problems on her own twitter account, the team saw their trend come to life as thousands of new followers flocked to them with their own "white girl problems."

The three writers developed a universal voice for their Twitter account and accompanying blog, creating Babe Walker, a self-obsessed 24-year-old profanity-spewing college graduate and spawn of wealthy Beverly Hills parents who is annoyed by many of life's mundane tasks.

"She's an amalgam of everything that is going on right now in pop culture, all the socialites and real housewives and these women that we kind of aspire to be, but we also think their lives are ridiculous. She is an accumulation of all of that in one explosive package," said Schoenhals of Babe.

Unlike Babe, her three creators don't hail from Beverly Hills or the incredibly wealthy upbringing of their creation.

Oklahoma City native Schoenhals, 27, serves as the "post-college white girl" of the creative team, while the Cohen brothers David, 31, and Tanner, 25, are natives of Washington D.C. and both actors supplement Babe's acid wit.

The Cohens currently live in New York, while Schoenhals lives in Los Angeles.

TWITTER TO BOOK TO TV

With celebrity fans like Roberts, Jessica Alba, Nicole Richie and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, the "White Girl Problems" creators worked hard to sustain the popularity and growth of the trend they created.

"Everytime I see something that just explodes (online), it just dies because I don't think the people who are in control of it know what to do. We really took a slow path to the success. We've never had more than 6000 new followers a day," said Cohen.

The novel "White Girl Problems," currently on book shelves and online, serves an a mock-autobiography of Babe Walker as she documents her rise from pampered kid to Beverly Hills princess, from her ostentatious birthday parties, to her scandalous dating life and constant pursuit for physical perfection.

"We made a caricature based on the relationship we all have with reality shows, it was a big inspiration for us in the way that a Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton is created," said Cohen.

"White Girl Problems" is not the first Twitter trend to be developed into a brand. In 2010, CBS's sitcom "$#*! My Dad Says" starring William Shatner was derived from Justin Halpern's popular twitter feed and best-selling novel of roughly the same name. Almost 3 million Twitter followers embraced his posts about amusing comments made by his 74-year-old father.

The "White Girl Problems" team said they were working on ideas for a television show, mainly focusing on the reality genre made popular by shows such as "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" and the "Real Housewives" franchise.

"We've prided ourselves on making content that's very subversive and pokes fun at a lot of the women we see on TV and what's going on in pop culture, so a show would make sense to be in that reality format," said Schoenhals.

Twitter trends are in nature short-lived, and unfortunately for Halpern, the "$#*! My Dad Says" sitcom starring Shatner was cancelled mid-season by CBS, a fate not gone unnoticed by the "White Girl Problems" creators.

"It's definitely something new and that's hard in TV, because TV is a genre that gets stuck sometimes. But we need somebody who's going to get on board with us, and it's not a rush," said Cohen.

"White Girl Problems" is currently at No. 28 on the New York Times Paperback Trade Fiction list.

(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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