How an “internet introvert” turned a college assignment into a cult following
For five years, the world knew her as DailyGrace. That all changed on December 31st, 2013, the day DailyGrace effectively died, much to the panic of thousands of teenage girls (and boys) worldwide.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO :’( Please let this not be true :’( This is so sad and emotional:( She does not deserve this ffs!!!!!” said “Team Helbig” in the comments of our recent article on the situation.
This is not a sad story.
This is a story of a self-proclaimed “internet introvert” who, to the outside world, appears to be anything but introverted. Like many other YouTube creators, Grace Helbig is really friggin’ likeable, quirky in her sense of humor, and impossibly real. Of course, this only adds to her magnetic charm — a charm that has helped her assemble a cult following of over 2 million subscribers on YouTube and nearly 500K followers on Twitter.
This is the story of a YouTube creator who, for many reasons as previously outlined by VideoInk, has made what could quite possibly be the most difficult decision of her career to date — to abandon her uber-popular channel DailyGrace, her home for five years, and start fresh as “ItsGrace.”
This is the story that proves, above anything else, that Shakespeare was completely right — a DailyGrace by another name is just as sweet, especially on YouTube.
Starting today, this quirky comedienne, Grace Helbig, will seek to prove that it’s not the channel, it’s not the name, but her personality that packs the most punch as she releases the first weekly video from her new channel and daily web series, “ItsGrace.”
Looking Back to the Beginning
Here’s a future trivia answer: The driving force for Helbig joining YouTube and registering a channel was a college course assignment. What came after — the evolution of a channel and its star into one of the leading sources of comedy on YouTube — just happened to be what Helbig had dreamt of doing all along.
When she first registered Graciehinabox as part of a college editing course, Helbig, residing in New York, was doing live comedy at the People’s Improv Theatre with dreams of a career in stand-up.
Outside of the cultural institutions like Carolines and the Comedy Cellar, New York is home to an expansive network of underground comedy venues. There’s a real sense of community among those who perform at the various theatres, stages, and bars from Chelsea to Brooklyn.
While the stand-up comedy scene in New York is an interesting beast, there’s a real chance for a comedienne, like Grace Helbig, to capture a strong and rabid community.
And as Helbig embarked on her YouTube adventure, she found similar opportunities online.
“I didn’t have a huge social life growing up and the internet was where I thrived. It was really nice to have this kind of private comedy growing online.”
Helbig continued uploading videos with her then-roommate, Michelle, inspired by veteran creators who preceded her like LisaNova, WheezyWaiter, and Natalie Tran, until 2008 when she was approached by Rob Barnett from My Damn Channel. Barnett and My Damn Channel commissioned Helbig to be the face and persona of new daily series called “DailyGrace,” which originally and exclusively aired on My Damn Channel before expanding to YouTube in 2010.
Soon after, Grace’s private online persona and public improv comedy life started to collide — and magic ensued. “I did have a weird time when it started to become more public and people were coming to my improv shows wearing ‘You’ve been hazed’ t-shirts.”
It was around this time that Helbig began to embrace the internet wholeheartedly, realizing that “it took so much promotion to get 100 people to attend [her] improv shows but [she] could get 100 people to watch [her] YouTube video in five minutes.”
But five years, and a juicy personality, is what it took for Grace to hit rocket stardom on YouTube scaling to over 300 million video views historically.
And now it’s not just YouTube where Helbig’s career is thriving — from her recent sketch comedy tour with Mamrie and Hannah Hart, to her forthcoming feature film “Camp Takota,” as well as her many TV appearances and murmurs of a book and possibly another TV series pilot, the Cult of Helbig has become multi-platform and ripe.
The Big Transition
“DailyGrace is Grace Helbig, which is me. DailyGrace [the channel] was a concept owned by My Damn Channel, but Grace Helbig is my personality, owned by myself…so that’s what I’m moving forward with and that’s what, to me, is priceless.”
In reality, leaving DailyGrace, the channel, behind does have its financial drawbacks given its 2M subscribers and over 300M video views. That’s a considerable amount of ad revenue for Helbig through her network affiliation.
But the hope is that the fans she made as DailyGrace will quickly embrace her on her new channel. So far, it’s good news for Helbig. The new channel is growing at a far more rapid pace than her previous one: ItsGrace has already ticked over 347K subscribers. In fact, her 30-second trailer for today’s big launch racked up 400K video views in under a week.
“It’s thanks in part to the YouTube community as a whole, which has been the most miraculous thing to me,” mused Helbig about her new channel’s early traction. YouTube darlings John Green, Zoella, Shane Dawson, Olga Kay, Phil DeFranco, and Jimmy Wong have all come to Helbig’s side to support the transition, championing her new channel to their social media followers.
“When everyone that I’ve become friends with in the community got wind of the situation [they] really, really rallied and have been throwing promotions towards the new channel.”
VideoInk’s articles, YouTube forums, Tumblr, and Reddit also lit up with comments from the industry and fans.
“It makes me feel really special,” says Helbig. “For a robot heart like me it’s been a weird [few] days of feeling really appreciated in a community that I have spent so much of my time in in the past five years.”
When I ask her about her plans for ItsGrace, Helbig says fans can expect similar content to DailyGrace — daily videos uploaded five days a week with a similar tone and strong point of view, something Helbig notes as an essential when building a cult following on YouTube.
In addition to that, Helbig will also start testing other “more professional” content formats in the vein of “Grace’s Faces”, a series in which Grace gave surprise makeovers to fellow YouTubers and friends like Rebecca Black and Strawburry17.
Currently, ItsGrace is “independent.” We’re told that Helbig has been taking meetings with the major YouTube networks but isn’t in a rush to affiliate.