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Behind the screens with college youtubers

By Julianne Ysrael Published Dec 31, 2020 4:00 pm

When I was in grade school, my after-school routine was simple: eat, shower, and watch YouTube. Even as a current freshman in college, this daily practice hasn’t changed much. Back then, I’d look forward to Bethany Mota’s and Zoella’s newest haul video and Ryan Higa’s weekly skit that ends with the classic teehee! These YouTubers were people that I grew up with, and now that I’m navigating the uncharted territories of university life and fashion emergencies, I find myself searching for people to relate to, people who are just like me.

As I browsed through my YouTube recommendations page, I stumbled upon the channels of two emerging Filipina YouTubers. I was finally watching people who didn’t purchase their items from Target and who went through the exact same school system. Through the screen, I could see myself mirrored in their content and it was such a comforting feeling to see two Filipinas attempting to be productive university students, finding their own sense of style, and who were refreshingly honest about their struggles. Young STAR talked to Bianca Gan and Alyanna Ross about their personal motivations, growing online community, and the story behind how it all started.

YOUNG STAR: Tell us about how and why you started your YouTube channel. 

BIANCA GAN: I wanted to have an outlet where I could express myself beyond words on Twitter or photos on Instagram. I wanted to be able to connect with people beyond that.

ALYANNA ROSS: To be honest, being a YouTuber wasn’t ever in my plans — it just happened! I started out my channel as a place to put my memories and document our family’s travels. I didn’t upload consistently up until the second semester of my freshman year in college — when my channel suddenly spiked! I noticed that it was my student-related videos that always got a lot of attention. I personally love those as well, and so I continued vlogging my college life.

What inspires you to create the kind of content that you post?

 YouTuber Bianca Gan's videos feature her tips on shopping and thrifting.

BIANCA: What draws me to create videos focused mainly on shopping and thrifting is my passion for expressing myself through clothing and finding ways around splurging on buying a new wardrobe in order to come up with an outfit!

ALYANNA: I ended up creating a channel solely focused on productivity and college life since it’s what’s closest to me, and so I feel like I can be more authentic on my channel. It’s something I naturally do on a daily basis. I’m not the smartest student, but I do work hard to get high grades and I think I am able to manage/organize my time and things well. I also love watching things related to productivity and organization!

How does it feel, being a Filipino woman creating content on YouTube?

BIANCA: I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who support me and people who believe in me and my craft. I also enjoy talking to my viewers about anything! It makes me happy whenever my viewers tell me that they see me as someone they can open up to.

ALYANNA: Entering the community, I feel like my videos were super different from the typical Filipino content on YouTube, which are often about comedy, beauty/fashion, or travel vlogs. I often just drew inspiration from my favorite international study channels. I have audiences from different countries, so I’m glad to be able to somehow represent the Philippines through my vlogs.

Can you describe to us the culture of your growing community on YouTube?

BIANCA: The community is very open, expressive and accepting. I love how my viewers and I can connect on a deeper level and how they understand and relate to the things I talk about. I don’t like appearing as this “perfect image” online because that’s just not realistic. I like showing my reality in all its angles. Life isn’t meant to be aesthetic 24/7!

ALYANNA: I love reading comments, they’re one of my sources of motivation to keep creating! I really try my best to reply to most if not all comments on my videos — It’s my way of giving back to them, for taking the time to even watch AND comment on my video! I also personally feel giddy when my favorite creators reply to me, so I know how it feels!

 Alyanna Ross gained views when she started documenting her college life.

How do you strive to be your authentic self despite the influx of creators and content on social media?

BIANCA: I simply put out videos I am interested in as well and put my own twist to it. I would never put out a video that I personally wouldn’t click on myself. It’s important to me to be genuine with my content and make sure I am truly passionate about each video I put out.

ALYANNA: I take my camera around with me — not the other way around. Some also told me that the timelapses of me doing digital art on my vlogs pushed them to create designs of their own. I was merely showing what I enjoyed doing and what was up in my life — it just so happens that the audience likes and appreciates them as well! 

Now, it’s time for a quick round of rapid-fire questions. In one line, can you give a pitch for your YouTube channel?

ALYANNA: “A tired college student films her last few years as a student, featuring bits and pieces of her life with friends, school, and family.”

Who do you want your channel to impact the most?

BIANCA: Those who are afraid to go out of their comfort zones, to inspire them to go for whatever they dream of achieving.

 "I was merely showing what I enjoyed doing — it just so happens that the audience likes them as well!"

“If I weren’t making this type of content, I’d be making videos about…?”

ALYANNA: Traveling or fashion!

BIANCA: Travel!

Current favorite YouTubers?

ALYANNA: CatCreature, Cup of Jasmien, Eyol and Sophie Concio.

BIANCA: Tatiana Ringsby, Moya Mawhinney, Eva Meloche and Ur Mom Ashley.

  "I don’t like appearing as this ‘perfect image’ online because that’s just not realistic."

Would you rather be filming a video or editing a video?

BIANCA: It really depends on the content of the video. For fashion videos, I prefer editing over filming, but for vlogs I prefer filming over editing!

What is one fun fact your followers don’t know about you yet?

ALYANNA: I was active on “stan twitter” from 2012 to 2018 (Janoskians, Magcon, 1D, 5SOS, Kpop)! A lot of the people I follow up to this day are actually my stan twitter friends.

BIANCA: Probably that I am a huge foodie. I love to cook and try out new dishes!

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start a channel?

BIANCA: One lesson that stuck with me since the beginning is to be genuine with whatever I do. It really keeps me grounded and true to myself. Do it for the right reasons. Do it because you love it and because you have a passion for creating. Just start now because the only thing holding you back is yourself.

ALYANNA: Finding your own style takes time — weeks, months, or years! I think it’s all right and normal to draw inspiration from other content creators, but not to the point of copying them and losing our own style. It took me like three years to figure out what truly makes my videos “me.” Remember that you don’t need a fancy camera or tripod; a phone and random object to put it on works!