Creator Voices: Evelyn from the Internets
To kick things off, we invited Evelyn from the Internets, a member of the inaugural Black Voices Class of 2021, to tell us where she’s been the last 15 years. Who else is she? In her own words: Evelyn From The Internets.
I’m Evelyn — a humor writer + digital storyteller based in Austin, Texas. That just means I post funny words and videos on the Internet. Add “influencer" if you want to send me free lotion or something. I love a good lotion. Life makes me laugh! I make a grab bag of content with varying levels of consistency. From travel vlogs and silly beauty guru-esque tutorials to funny first-generation American stories and Black pop culture commentary, subscribe if you want giggle-worthy vids that make ya think.
I call everyone who entertains my shenanigans my #InternetCousin, so welcome to the family, cuz.
Somewhere in my childhood bedroom — probably sandwiched between old yearbooks — is a short stack of DVDs. Before YouTube existed, the best I could do was burn my videos onto a disk and experience the thrill of watching my creations on the living room TV. My hope was maybe one day you’d change the channel or buy a ticket to see what I made, but in the meantime, a 7.1 megapixel camera and Windows MovieMaker would have to do.
Now, more than 15 years later, I’ve uploaded hundreds of videos on this platform, earning the title of “YouTube creator.” What began as a childhood hobby became my job, and the journey is still unfolding.
What I’ve learned so far can be applied to any other part of my life — so shout-out to YouTube for these universal truths:
Your voice, your perspective is what’s actually impressive about you.”
Start with what you have
Your greatest tool is your point of view. In other words, money can’t buy taste. To be clear, money buys a lot — equipment, time, space, the ability to fairly compensate talented people to help you communicate your vision efficiently.
But you have to have a vision first.
If I was too scared to sit alone on my dorm room floor in 2008 and record straight into my webcam, dropping a stack (of credit card debt) on a camera wouldn’t magically erase that fear. And before y’all try to sort my videos from oldest to newest — just know that the super vintage works are locked in the vault. You can watch this, though!
Your voice, your perspective is what’s actually impressive about you. The biggest flex of all is comparing your earliest, low-budget work to a fully-funded project and truly seeing that you’ve been you all along.
Overnight success is a myth
I think virality and folks randomly getting on "The Ellen Show" trick us into believing fame and fortune happens overnight. In reality, these special moments and amazing opportunities tend to happen to people minding their own business doing the same old things they always do.
I had been posting videos here for roughly eight years when my "Lemonade" review landed on Beyonce’s Formation World Tour. My channel was a whole third grader with an inching subscriber count. But this wasn’t an opportunity I could have ever knowingly worked toward. I was just desperately trying to stick to my “Vlog Every Day in April” schedule. Opportunities can only find you if you’re already doing the work.
And when I reach the next stage in my creative journey, no doubt the term “newcomer” or “fresh face” will be used, despite documenting my entire adulthood online and building an incredible community of Internet Cousins along the way.
I constantly redefine what success means to me, because if I rely on calendars or “30 Under 30” lists, I would have given up a long time ago. Also... I’m already 30.
Embracing what makes you unique invites others to understand how you’re similar. Y’all? That’s like the building block of empathy.”
Specificity is actually relatable
If we’re afraid to start where we are with what we already have, and constantly compare ourselves to others’ timelines of perceived success, this last lesson can be difficult to understand. And trust me, I’ve stared at my spice rack, contemplating doing the “cinnamon challenge” to see if it would blast my channel into the dimension where I have my own TV show.
Appealing to the masses may seem like the quickest way to achieve your goals, but it’s the least sustainable. Eventually, you’ll tire of pleasing others, and the attention that once brought you joy will make you anxious. It’s hard to be someone else for very long.
I tell stories about my experiences. There’s no need to explain a particular joke or a reference, I just trust that the message will find its way to whomever needs it. A video about being a Black woman voting in the U.S. Presidential election can resonate with anyone in the world who’s done a thankless job or reluctantly worked with others to achieve a common goal.
Embracing what makes you unique invites others to understand how you’re similar. Y’all? That’s like the building block of empathy. Some of my favorite comments are “I’m old enough to be your grandma, but I love your videos!” or “I’m literally a man with no hair but I’m sitting here watching a hair tutorial.”
I can’t promise you’ll go viral, but I can promise you’ll never feel like you sold your soul.
Now I gotta be honest with y’all. I wrote this for myself. These lessons help me get back on track when I feel like I’ll never have enough resources, or that I should have reached my dreams by now, or even that I should have gone the “couples prank” channel route, because they make bank. Focus, Evelyn, focus!
Hindsight is always 2020 (I hate when cliches are right!), so I hope my reflection can help you work towards a happier future. That’s what Internet Cousins are for, right?
See you on the Internet somewhere,