This year marks the 10-year anniversary of YouTube. Actor and vlogger Franchesca Ramsey has used the platform to grow a career as a content creator and commentator, including her breakout video “Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls.” Since then she’s become friends IRL with Tracee Ellis Ross and this year launched Decoded, a series with MTV. See how she charted her own path to success, one video at a time.
Name: Franchesca Ramsey
Title: YouTube vlogger, Writer-at-large for Upworthy and host of MTV’s Decoded
Location: New York, NY
The gig: I create videos for my YouTube channel Chescaleigh and for Decoded, a series with MTV. I also work for Upworthy, a socially conscious viral site. I had been making videos for about six years before “Shit White Girls Say” happened, which is a big success itself. I would say that that was probably the first time that I realized this could be a career, when the video received about 11 million views. Here I am three years later and I still get recognized almost every day because of that video. It just had such a huge impact and started such an enormous conversation about micro aggressions and privilege. That was really the first time that I realized, oh wow, this YouTube thing is really serious.
The journey: My dream has always been to be in entertainment. I left acting school really hoping that I could be on a television show of some sort, working in movies in Hollywood. When I started in 2007 YouTube was just a fun hobby for others and myself. It’s so cool that now YouTube can be a viable source of income and a career. I never could have imagined that this is where my career would be because at the time it didn’t exist. I get to create my own content and really be in control.
Learning video production: On my own channel I do everything by myself. I was really fortunate, in 2011 I was part of YouTube’s next step class, a search for the next up-and-coming YouTube stars. I was in a class of 25. Part of that was extensive training at the YouTube offices. Everything from creating a production schedule to lighting, special effects and just getting to know some of the best practices for YouTube. That was a really big help for me. With that training I was able to really invest in my channel and work on the look and feel of my videos. On MTV’s Decoded, it’s so nice to have a team that understands my personality and my sensibilities and can translate that into our videos.
Her biggest lesson learned: Honestly something that I still work on to this day is just being receptive to your audience’s feedback, both positive and negative. I think that it’s hard when people say nasty things on the Internet, especially when they are untrue. There definitely is a tendency to want to fight back or defend yourself. I am so very guilty of that, but you really have to avoid feeding the trolls. A lot of times that’s exactly what they want is your attention.
Her YouTube highlight: I’ll never forget the day that my friend texted and said, Tracee Ellis Ross just subscribed to you on YouTube. Then I got an email from her management that said, if you’re ever in LA, Tracee would love to meet you. From there I got to meet her and put some videos together. She’s just so cool and so down to earth. It was just really awesome that my YouTube channel is what introduced me to her. Never in a million years would I think that I would develop a friendship with a celebrity that I’ve watched on television for years. I have so many really great friends from my channel. People that I’d never even met in person but I consider some of my closest friends.
Her best advice received: When I met Tracee I was 29 and I was so stressed out about turning 30. She told me, your 30s are when you come into your sexy. That’s when you know who you are. She could not have been more right because at 31, for all the stress that I have, I feel so good about who I am and I just feel like I know myself more than I ever have known myself before. The 30s are amazing.
Her stress release: I am a workout junkie. It just really helps clear my head and it helps me stay motivated and on schedule. It really helps, since every day is different for me. Knowing that my morning starts at the gym, no matter how stressed out I am or how tired I am, I power through and I get it done.
Her power accessory: A fun necklace or a head wrap. They are great to throw on if you don’t feel like dressing up but you need a little pizzazz.
Her beauty bag: Right now my favorite thing is Sally Hansen’s at-home gel manicure that doesn’t need a light. And I cannot leave the house without my eyebrows filled in.
Her relationship tip: My husband and I have been together for almost 10 years. We’ve been through a lot together. I think for us the biggest thing is just being honest with each other about the good days and bad.
Her tech fix: I just got a pair of wireless headphones for the gym. As for apps, I live and die by Spotify. It’s the best $10 you can spend a month. I just have to have my music on the subway.
Her theme song: “Golden” by Jill Scott.