Julia Leahy Wants Some More Pesto … Please!

Leahy’s TikTok stardom has allowed her many amazing opportunities including being invited to the opening night of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Leahy’s TikTok stardom has allowed her many amazing opportunities including being invited to the opening night of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Julia Leahy, FCRH ’23, never expected that an unfortunate Tinder encounter would completely change the trajectory of her life. On one fateful day in May 2020, one of Leahy’s matches asked her about her favorite type of music. Leahy didn’t exactly want to immediately open up about her crippling Mamma Mia obsession, so she told him about the time she had seen Tom Petty in concert with her family before his death. To her horror, the match started offering his condolences, believing that her father had died in Petty’s place and opened up about his own traumatic past. Feeling terrible about the miscommunication, Leahy apologized profusely and turned to TikTok to find comfort in the situation, recording a quick storytime for her friends to see.

Little did Leahy know, the clip of her screaming in her car would shoot her straight into stardom, as the video generated over one million views and 350,000 likes. “I made that little video, just for my seven friends that had me on TikTok, because I was like ‘this is such a crazy story!’” she said. “It’s the easiest way for all of them to hear it. So, it actually really shocked me when random people started commenting.” Since then, the Rochester, NewYork native has amassed over 650,000 followers and 28.6 million likes on her TikTok account, @morepestoplease.

According to Leahy, the inspiration behind her username actually comes from Fordham itself. She needed to air some grievances against one of campus’ go-to sandwich shops. “Basically, I always get the turkey avocado club at Cosí,” she explained. “However, the Grubhub guy is so stingy with his pesto, so I literally press my face up against the glass while they’re making a sandwich, and I always say ‘more pesto please.’ My roommates gave me a lot of flack for it, but that’s been the phrase that has stuck.”

Leahy has an impressive repertoire of crazy Fordham experiences. These range from witnessing a violent cage fight between two guinea pigs on the street, suffering severe turf burns after a dangerous game of capture the flag and nearly missing the Ram Van after making some last-minute ramen. What makes Leahy’s storytimes so special is her hilarious, animated delivery and the creative ways she describes the events.

When filming her storytimes, Leahy likes to come up with the exact rhetoric on the spot. “If you know me, my friends will tell you that this is exactly how I talk and tell stories in real life,” she said. “I don’t usually think of anything beforehand, it’s really how I just talk.” It’s evident that her natural storytelling skills work tremendously in her favor, as TikTok users have gobbled up her storytimes. Each of her posts have garnered millions of likes, with some even receiving nearly 20 million views.

Sometimes, Leahy will bump into some fans around campus or even on the subway, which is something she finds really cool. “It makes my heart really happy,” she said with a smile on her face. “It’s positive validation, and it’s crazy to think that so many people think I’m worth following.”

Leahy’s vocal talents extend beyond her storytelling skills. Coming from a theater background, Leahy is a pivotal figure in Fordham’s all-female a cappella group, the Satin Dolls. Just this past week, the group released their first album, “Dolls,” on all streaming platforms and even opened up for the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular on opening night. In fact, if you listen closely to the Dolls’ cover of “Oops … I Did It Again,” Leahy is singing on the chorus!

Her TikTok fame may still be relatively new, but Leahy is already making significant strides forward within the entertainment industry. She recently signed with the agency Whaler Talent, whom she credits for her plethora of opportunities. “I get to work with really cool brands, and I get to connect with some really cool creators who I’m now friends with,” she said. “Sabrina Carpenter and I have texted a couple times, she’s really sweet. I was also invited to the opening night of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and I got to go meet Lin Manuel Miranda.”

Looking back on everything, Leahy still can’t believe her luck. “It changed my life, which is such a funny sentence to say,” she said. “I’m able to get paid from this, and I’ve had so many great opportunities. It’s cool to know that people are watching me, and I could potentially get hired from some of the crazy stuff I say.”

It’s clear that Leahy and her storytimes will keep the TikTok community laughing for years to come. With that, hopefully, Cosí will put the perfect amount of pesto on her sandwich someday.