While filling in as a guest host on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’, the comedienne uses her monologue to address the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe…
Justine Ezarik, the YouTube personality better known as iJustine, took the internet by storm. She’s been around for more than a decade, first popping up on YouTube in 2006 where she has accumulated millions of subscribers and fans. The vlogger still remains beloved, and has since branched out with a bustling Instagram account and a memoir.
As one of the first celebs to build a reputation for herself on the internet, Ezarik is kind of a big deal. Her hustle made her one of the earliest YouTube influencers and turned iJustine into a household name. She reveals a lot about herself on social media, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a few secrets up her sleeve. The internet star has a pretty interesting life, and it doesn’t look like she’s going to be slowing down any time soon. Here are some things you probably don’t know about the YouTube sensation.
Getting started young
Some people spend decades trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. Ezarik, on the other hand, was prepping herself for her future career before she was even a teenager. Her idol as a child was Steve Jobs, and it’s clear that the tech mogul has had quite a big influence on her life.
Ezarik built her first website when she was just 12 years old. The website was called “I Hate Steve” (and no, she didn’t change her stance on Steve Jobs) — it was about a classmate who gave her a hard time. It’s a pretty creative way for a 12-year-old to get back at someone, and it seems to have done the trick because Ezarik and Steve later became friends.Of course, there’s no way Ezarik could have known she was building the foundation for her future career that would launch her onto the international stage. As a kid, she was just building websites for fun (and revenge).
"I don't feel like I've ever fit into a specific mold"
Whether you’ve been following iJustine on YouTube from the beginning, or are just now delving into Ezarik’s videos, you’ve probably noticed that they cover a lot of topics. Ezarik herself says that she can’t really put a label on what kind of influencer she is — and she’s totally okay with that. She covers everything from gaming to beauty; if she likes it, chances are she’s going to be talking about it. “I don’t feel like I’ve ever fit into a specific mold ever since I was very young,” she told Forbes. “That’s what [sic] so cool about YouTube is that you can do whatever you want.”
She did hit a point where she “was doing like 50 videos a week” which drove her “crazy,” so she had to cut back a little bit, honing in on her favorite things. “I kind of stopped and asked myself… ‘what do I like doing now?'” she said. “I like video games, I like tech, I like travel, I like my dog, I like food. I’m like, ‘That’s what I’m going to focus on.'”
She's no stranger to running her own business
Running your own business isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it turns out that Ezarik is a seasoned pro when it comes to being self-employed. Ezarik explained to Forbes: “I feel like I’ve been a businessperson long before I started doing [YouTube] because I was a graphic designer. I was freelance, so I had my own sort of business.”
She explained how she originally used YouTube to help promote her graphic design business: “I started posting stuff on YouTube to show people that I could edit for them. So I basically was putting myself in the videos as a demo reel so that people would hire me as an editor. And now here we are!” Ezarik did all the work herself at the beginning, but these days she gets some help with editing, plus she also employs a PR and management company.
Talking on the phone isn't her thing
As you might expect from a YouTube guru, Ezarik is all about technology. As you’d expect, she loves her phone, but only as long as it’s for anything but phone calls. “I love texting and DM’ing on Twitter,” she told PopSugar. “I will pretty much avoid talking on the phone at all costs.”
She describes herself as a “big mobile fan” who would marry Apple if she could, although she does have some deep appreciation for the Nexus One. “I love seeing all of the latest technologies with phones,” she said. She is truly a child of the tech age. Case in point: When asked what would happen if she had to spend a day without using any technology or gadgets, she answered “Yeah, that’s never going to happen.”
Ezarik is so addicted to technology that she claims she doesn’t really have any non-tech related hobbies outside of going for walks.
Being a woman in tech can be rough
There’s a massive gender gap in the tech industry, with men significantly outnumbering women. Breaking into that space can be tricky for women, and Ezarik has faced the difficulties of being involved in fields that are often viewed as being more for boys. She told Forbes that she has faced negativity from men in gaming who think she’s out of her element, but pointed out that “the percentage of women playing games is actually higher than men.”
She said that the bigger problem is women not being vocal about their interests. “I really love Karlie Kloss,” she said. “She has her Kode With Klossie thing that’s bringing coding to women…. She’s got a non-traditional thing she’s doing. I mean, she’s a beautiful model but she’s like, ‘Listen I love to program and I want to teach you how to do it too.’ I think we need more of that: Women being vocal and being role models that aren’t the traditional ones that they have now.”
YouTube stars face terrifying harassment that isn't taken seriously
Living life in the spotlight can attract a lot of unwanted attention. According to Ezarik, many YouTube stars are reluctant to talk about the harassment they face as public figures, but that it’s an incredibly common problem. Even worse is that the authorities don’t do much to crack down on online harassment. “I have so much documentation of someone who was harassing me for years, and I took it to the cops, and they actually laughed at me,” she told The New York Times. “They were like, ‘he didn’t say that he was going to kill you, he just wanted to kill you.'”
It’s terrifying to think that such threats can go without punishment, but it’s a reminder of how important it is to be careful online. The harassment has made Ezarik very cautious about who she interacts with. While she loves to meet her fans, she always makes sure to hire security when attending conventions in order to be as safe as possible.
Her tip to deal with the "unfortunate reality" of cyberbullying
Ezarik knows firsthand just how much harassment can occur online. She’s taking a stance against cyberbullying, and trying to raise awareness of the issue. In an interview with Tech.co, she spoke about the reality of cyberbullying and how people can contribute to making the internet a friendlier place. She explained that it’s an “unfortunate reality” that it’s nearly impossible to stop people from posting negativity online. The only way to prevent it is to take responsibility for your own actions.
She urged everyone to think before they post anything, and to realize that “you’re talking to real people.” She elaborated how putting herself in the poster’s shoes can be comforting, recognizing “that this person writing this terrible thing… might be going through something. So it’s kind of understanding both aspects of where these conversations are starting. And just realizing that this negativity, it’s not helping, it’s just hurting.” It can be easy to think that words spoken in the virtual world don’t have as much of an impact, but it’s important to remember that kindness matters — even online.
Her website is her safe space to interact with fans
The internet can be a scary place since a lot of people don’t respect boundaries. “Because we put so much of our lives out there, people sometimes feel personally connected to us,” Ezarik told VentureBeat. “They feel like they can just show up at someone’s house and say, ‘Hey, I’m here.’ No, you can’t really do that.’ You just have to be really careful. It’s a bigger issue that we can really get into here.”
While she likes to interact with her many fans, Ezarik wants to do so in a safe and friendly space. She makes sure that her website is a forum where she can do this. “I control pretty much everything that’s happening there,” she said. “It’s nice to have a safe place where people can go and feel welcome and not be quite so out in the open the way they are on Facebook or Twitter.”
Being a YouTube celeb can be incredibly lonely
Living so much of your life online can be an isolating experience. Many YouTube stars are loners, according to Ezarik. Ezarik herself spends many hours a day devoted to her work, and a lot of it is done in total isolation. She told The New York Times that she isn’t even sure how many hours a day she spends in front of a screen recording herself. Even one of her favorite hobbies — playing video games — is typically done in solitude, in front of a screen. Between work and video games, Ezarik spends most of the day by herself. It might be a peaceful existence, but not one that is without its challenges.
While a lot of this isolation is self-imposed, and even necessary for her to do her job, Ezarik isn’t always happy with it. The lack of real-life human interaction can be quite lonely. “The biggest obstacle is staying inspired and motivated to keep doing it,” said Ezarik.
This is the advice she would give her younger self
With so many years of experience, it’s safe to say that Justine “iJustine” Ezarik has racked up a lot of knowledge. She has a career doing what she loves to do, and frequently doles out advice to aspiring YouTubers. In an interview with Teen Vogue, she told those looking to emulate her how to do it.”I think the barrier to entry is a little bit easier, but it’s then breaking through kind of finding yourself — finding what you want to talk about and then finding the audience,” she said.
The advice she revealed to Sweety High that she would give to her younger self is just as sound: “A lot of people I’ve met have influenced what I’m doing now. I’d say always keep those people and experiences close to you, because they’ll pop up back in the future. Life is very full circle. I’d also say have fun and be kind to everyone. Don’t be afraid to try new things.”
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