Brittani Louise Taylor attributes her popularity on YouTube to fellow YouTube sensation Shane Dawson. Dawson hatched the idea for a collaborative "emo breakup video" that became their first viral video. They worked on several videos together after that, and now both operate three different channels.
"He's the reason I have viewers," Taylor told TheWrap.
Dawson can claim a larger following on the world’s largest video portal, boasting 8 million subscribers across his three channels as compared to Taylor's 1.2 million.
Yet don't let Taylor’s modesty conceal her ambition. She moved to Los Angeles as a teenager to pursue acting and has since cultivated a large and passionate fan base on YouTube with a mix of acting, singing, beauty tips and video blogs.
She just signed with one of the largest multi-channel network's around, Fullscreen, and is looking for funding for a new web series she's writing with her friend, comedian Amy Hubbs.
TheWrap talked with Taylor about her plans for that series, why YouTube stars deserve funding and how to build an audience.
So what’s your story?
I grew up in Sedona, Arizona, doing theater and got an art scholarship to [Arizona State University]. I dropped out of college and moved to LA to pursue acting, so it worked out. [Laughs]. I went the traditional route — tried some crappy independent films, some student films, print work. When I said I was going to do YouTube and stop auditioning my friends thought I was crazy. Now that they’ve seen everything I’ve done online, they all want to go to lunch.
How did you get started on YouTube?
Josh Harris was one of the first people doing live videocasting and he opened up an indie studio. I created a character called Rhonda Anthony Tanner and made out with my hand in an audition. They said "we love her" and I started doing a show on their network.
Then they said "why not take it to YouTube?" I was frustrated. It took two and a half years before I saw movement, but I was determined.
What kinds of things were you fooling around with?
I tried at first playing a specific character like Rhonda. My friend Shane Dawson has 8,000 subscribers and I had 12,000 subscribers and he was like, "You know what? Let's do an email breakup video and you start playing all these different characters." It went nuts and has four million views or something. Then we did this video about how to get big on YouTube and did a whole bunch of other videos together. He's the reason I have viewers.
You've been on YouTube for how long?
Seven years now.
How has your approach to YouTube changed since those early days?
I've gotten better at it. I can do six videos a week now. Before one was a lot of effort.
Now I only pick a song if I like it and know what I can do with it. It's all about the product not the numbers.
What’s next for you?
I have eight episodes written of a web series with my friend Amy Hubbs. She was on "Raising Hope" and is so funny. We have one offer of funding and we are raising funding right now.
Episodes are written but we're in the baby stages. It’s TV-quality online. I don't think I'm ever going to be satisfied.
The big thing is finding funding. If I have this great idea, I want to do it on a bigger budget. YouTubers can make things on a bare bones budget, but once you have financing it's amazing what we can do. We know exactly what we need. We can make one or two short films a week.
You have three different channels. Why is that?
It's a quality control thing. The main channel is sketches, DIYs or music video parodies. The beauty channel is just beauty and those videos might scare away the male audience on my main channel. Even though my audience is primarily female, they don't all need to know my favorite things for the month and get bored in two seconds. The second channel is always die-hard fans.
You post video blogs, as many of the biggest stars on YouTube do. How well do your fans know you?
They knew when I was dumped, when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and all the way through the point he passed away. I made a video called "Faith." I wanted people to know. I felt like I owed it to them. They've been such a part of it all that I feel like I have nothing to hide.
For the record: An earlier version of this post said Taylor is working on a web series with Amy Sedaris. She is working on a series with Amy Hubbs. TheWrap is sorry for this error.