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Fun, bubbly and with an openness that seems like you’re chatting to an old friend rather than watching a face onscreen, Jessie B (or Jessica Brennan when offline) is one of the UK and Ireland’s upcoming YouTube stars. Following in the footsteps of her idol, Zoella, and YouTuber sister, Melanie Murphy, Jessie B has quickly made a name for herself, amassing a following of almost 70K followers in just over a year. With her videos spanning makeup, fashion, sexuality, body positivity and mental health, it’s refreshing to see a YouTuber tear down all barriers and present a completely honest version of themselves to their fans. With the world of YouTube stardom at her fingertips, we asked Jessie B all about her idols, her plans, and the question on everybody’s lips: how can I be a YouTuber too?
First thing’s first, what sparked your interest in YouTube? – Who are you fave YouTubers and what inspired you the most to start a channel?
I’ve always loved watching YouTube. I first started when I was about twelve or thirteen and always used it as a bit of an escape from day to day life. Back when I first started watching YouTubers, I was obsessed with Zoella (she was only starting out herself when I first started watching her) and she used to film in her bedroom with extremely basic camera quality, lighting and sound. I remember she always had music from the radio playing in the back of her videos – so that just shows how much YouTube has changed since I first started watching. I would honestly say the likes of Zoella and Bethany Mota are two of the people who inspired me most because I used to watch them and actually cry because I thought “I could never do that”; it used to make me extremely sad. I don’t actually watch as much YouTube compared to before I started making videos because I find if I’m watching people who make similar content as me, I subconsciously pick up on their mannerisms without realising. I don’t want to change the way I am in the slightest and always want to keep my channel 110% me, real and honest.
What is the most challenging part for you as a YouTuber?
I’m such a perfectionist and never completely happy with anything I do – I always think I can do better and that I can do more (probably like most people). I’m such an over-thinker, which tends to work against me a lot in this industry because no matter how much time and effort I put into a video, I watch it back and feel like it could be better. I think this is in some ways positive, because it keeps me on my toes and thinking of new ways to improve my content.
You currently have 69K Subscribers on YouTube, an impressive achievement for someone who began their channel just over a year ago and at only 19 years old. How did you amass such a following? How would you advise other young people who want to get started on YouTube and gain viewers?
Thank you so much! If I’m being completely honest I suppose I did have a bit more luck on my side when I started because my sister (Melanie Murphy) is also a YouTuber, so initially I did get a couple of thousand coming over from her channel. A lot of her subscribers had been asking me to start a channel for ages, as I used to be in some of my sisters’ videos, but I did grow the bulk of my subscribers myself. The best advice I could give someone starting out is consistency. It’s so much more important than anybody realises. When I first started I made a pact to myself that I would upload two videos every week on the same day at the same time. I did that for a whole year and it really helped me grow my channel as people want to know that on a Tuesday at 5pm you will have a video up no questions asked- like your favourite TV show. Of course there was an odd day I missed if I wasn’t well, and that’s completely understandable, but I really do believe that was the main thing to help me to grow steadily. I’m not as hard on myself now, as it was starting to affect my stress levels. I still make sure to upload one video every week without fail and then I’ll do two if I’m feeling it, but I think it’s important to not push yourself too hard; I did in the beginning and it’s not something I would advise for others starting out because it’s a very hard habit to break.
Jessie B (right) with sister and fellow YouTuber, Melanie Murphy (left)
With many sectors of the fashion and beauty industry based in London, do you find that working from Ireland can make it difficult to network with other YouTubers or break into the industry, or does it help you stand out from the crowd?
I think this one is quite a mixed answer. On the one hand, we live in a digital world, so it doesn’t matter if you live in London, Ireland or anywhere else, as YouTube gives you a platform to speak to people globally without barriers. However, in terms of meeting other creators and building your own network, being in big cities does help, as it’s easier to meet face to face with like-minded people. Hence why the big events like Summer In The City and Playlist Live are amazing opportunities to meet other people in the industry. So I suppose it depends on which way you look at things. I guess it’s a little bit of both, but at the end of the day I don’t think it hugely affects your chances of making it if you’re going out of your way to make sure you go to the big events and that you are getting your face out there.
More and more YouTubers are now breaking the taboo surrounding sexuality through their videos. What made you decide to treat this topic on your channel and have you ever had any negative reactions to your videos on sexuality? Is it ever awkward if your family/coworkers/friends see these videos?
When I started my channel I decided that I wanted to keep things completely real and honest about everything. There wasn’t a huge amount of channels at that time talking about certain issues that affect a lot of us on a day to day basis and I hadn’t come across many channels where people my age discussed sex and sexuality openly. I suppose I realised I had a voice when I was getting more requests to talk about these topics. That was when I decided it was so important to speak about these things from my first-hand knowledge- I’m bisexual in case you were wondering – and in my mind, if I could help one person accept themselves for who they are, then that’s absolutely amazing. I’ve never actually had any negative reactions to my videos on sexuality, they’ve always been nothing but positive and heart-warming, as you get people sharing their stories in the comments and it’s like a little community coming together supporting each other! I don’t think its awkward if family, coworkers, or friends see these videos, as I know I’m accepted and loved for who I am. I suppose when you’re making videos like mine you’ve got to remember that “everyone I know will see this” and once you accept that, I don’t think it really bothers you. It’s much more important that if I’m able to make even a tiny difference in this world, I will, because it’s so crucial that people realise they are not on their own.
There’s still an air of skepticism from some people who don’t understand the YouTube community. How would you describe your relationship with online friends? Would you say they’re just as valid friendships as those you meet in the ‘real world’ or are they affected by the fact you’re separated from them by a screen?
I definitely think they’re just as valid as friendships “in the real world” because there are so many ways to communicate online now. There’s messaging, video, facetime/skype, plus so many more amazing ways to stay in contact with online friends that makes you feel like you’re with them. I think the whole “online friends” thing is great because it helps you feel less alone as you can meet likeminded people with the same interests as you. Compared to if you live in a small town like me, it’s much harder and less likely that you will be able to find similar people to you.
If you could collab with anyone in the future, who would it be?
Thats an extremely hard question, as there are so many amazing inspirational people I would absolutely love to collab with! If I got to choose right now I would probably say Zoella, just because she was one of my biggest inspirations when starting a channel. I do believe she is a huge inspiration within this whole YouTube community, showing what you can achieve if you really put your mind to it. I also think I’d get on really well with her, as she doesn’t take herself too seriously either!
There are so many amazing MUAs out there today – who are your favourites?
Some of my favourites would be the likes of Jeffree Star, Manny MUA and Nikkie Tutorials. They just take makeup to the next level and I aspire to be as good as they are one day, plus I really would like to be a beautician/MUA in the future too.
Do you have any future plans as to where you want to progress with your channel or your interest in beauty and fashion more generally?
I have a lot of plans, but at the same time I’m still trying to work some of them out. I am obviously determined to continue to grow my channel and I’m so motivated to hit 100K subscribers by the end of this year for sure! I would absolutely love to have my own beauty or fashion line in the future, as beauty and fashion are two of my biggest passions. I would also love to bring out merch in the the near future (I already have some ideas as to what I would like to bring out). I’m determined to make this all work because there is nothing I would rather be doing and the fact I could make my passion into my full job would just be a dream come true.
Youtube Channel: Jessie B