Olga Kay’s origin story is much different than most YouTube creators. “I was living a little bit in Ukraine until I was 12 then I traveled all over Russia until I was 16 then I came to America,” says Kay. She explains that she came to the United States on a contract with Ringling Bros. Circus, her act was juggling. “I didn’t speak any English, so it was very difficult,” Kay explains. “I couldn’t communicate for a good five or six months in America. While I was traveling, I slowly learned English in my trailer. I would have books and try to put sentences together. That was my first two years in America, traveling and trying to learn to speak English.”
Kay speaks about her childhood in the circus like you or I would talk about growing up on a farm or in the city. She’s either spoken about this thousands of times or, to her, this kind of experience, traveling as a circus performer, pales in comparison to life as a young entrepreneur living and working in Los Angeles.
According to Kay, she makes somewhere around 20 YouTube videos a week under her stage name Olga Kay. She has four main channels. She works, films, and edits at least 12 hours a day, every day. When Kay stopped performing in the circus, she moved to Los Angeles where she sold handmade swimsuits and scarves. If you’re not catching what I’m trying to say, Kay could quite possibly be the hardest working person on YouTube.
Hard work, as she explains, is in her blood, it comes from her modest upbringing in Russia. “My family gave me a very good core and a good understanding of what needs to be done if you ever want to be successful. Even though my parents were never successful at what they did, they were hard workers,” she says, adding, “the only reason they weren’t successful was because they were in Russia.”
Coming from a relatively poor family in Russia to the United States at 16 seems to have defined Kay and her unbending work ethic. When I ask her if she is the type of person who believes any person can do anything if they work hard enough, she tells me flat out, “absolutely.” She explains that coming to the United States as a performer changed her outlook on life simply because, as she saw it, you can do anything in America. “There is no reason why you should be super broke or homeless in America because I feel like there are so many opportunities,” she tells me.
Kay possesses a sort of idealism that is rarely shared by people born and raised in the US. Her childhood, juxtaposed with that of your average American teen seems alien and incomprehensible when stacked against McMansions and all-you-can-eat buffets. It’s why Kay has a problem with some of America’s troubled youth: “I don’t feel like teenagers in America are stimulated enough to be creative or responsible.” Kay cites an article she read, which listed some astronomical statistic of how many teenagers in the US are addicted to Oxycontin. “I think it all comes from the under-stimulation of your young mind. You just do nothing all day and you just do drugs. That really makes me angry.”
As teenager herself, Kay wasn’t forced to go to school. She explains that she was an average student, but was often bored, so her mother gave her options. “My mother told that I don’t have to go to college. But if I chose not to do that, I’ll have to work really hard at something I want to accomplish. That really stuck with me my whole life,” Kay says.
It’s that work ethic that has kept Kay relevant on YouTube for so long. As seen by her many channels, which all range in style and content, she has the drive to constantly be innovating. For her, success on YouTube was not easy. Kay never had a viral hit, she never really had a gimmick. Her career in YouTube has been defined solely through hours and hours of hard work and a willingness to try new things. I ask her what she would be doing if YouTube didn’t exist and she tells she’d be working in Hollywood, she doesn’t add “I might be” or “maybe,” she just would be, no question about it.
As one of the hardest working people on YouTube, Kay is always undertaking new projects. Last year, she launched “MooshVille,” a beauty and fashion channel, which already has over 78,000 subscribers. The channel isn’t a smash hit, but it speaks volumes about Kay. Launching a beauty channel in the already oversaturated YouTube marketplace, to many, seems like a futile pursuit. But for Kay, it doesn’t matter if there are thousands of beauty and fashion channels on YouTube; in her mind, if she wants it to work, she’ll make it work.
Her career has been carved out with this ideal in hand, and Kay isn’t slowing down soon. She has a new lifestyle website in the works, which will act as a hub for fashion, tech, and game content. Kay says she works on it every day. And why wouldn’t she? Kay has come this far by virtue of her own unbreakable spirit. She can’t stop now.