Youtube/TikTok Sensation, Jessii Vee Talks Graphic Design, YouTube, TikTok, Mental Health, Horror and More
Interview By Tyrone Davis – Editor
Jessii Vee is a YouTube and TikTok sensation with a combined 6 million subscribers between the two platforms. She and I discussed her graphic design background and how it helps her in her current career path, building a following on YouTube, content creation, mental health, horror and more.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
I actually spent the first few years of my life in Antigua which is a small island in the Caribbean. My dad got a job opportunity there so we bought a house and settled down for a while. It was beautiful. We were pretty much at the beach every single day. We unfortunately had to move back to Canada when Hurricane Luis hit in 1995. It destroyed everything. Growing up back in Brampton, Ontario provided many amazing opportunities for me! I was a graphic design major as well and pursued it as a career and also used it to further along everything else I was doing in the entertainment field.
What made you go that route initially and how did Youtube end up taking priority over design work?
I’ve always loved art and being creative in any way that I could. I went to an art high school and it inspired me to go the route of Graphic Design. I started my channel in 2014 just as I was graduating college. Youtube was a hobby at first and I completely expected to be jumping right into the Graphic Design field as soon as I graduated. To my surprise, my channel hit 100K subscribers in the first six months so I considered changing my career direction.
Do you use any of that graphic design talent today? If so, in what ways?
Yes, definitely! I design my own merch using all the Graphic Design programs that I was taught in school. I also design all of my thumbnails for my videos in the same way. It has been amazing that I can still put my skills to use without having to hire someone else to do it all for me.
What is the biggest misconception about creating/maintaining a Youtube channel?
Many people think that posting videos is easy work but it is quite the opposite. When I first got into the field I would get so many comments from people telling me to “Get a real job”. To give you an idea….I work for about 10 hours a day every single day. I don’t even have weekends off! I am constantly researching new ideas and writing entire papers on them so that I am fully knowledgeable before talking about a certain subject. I film multiple times a week. I am always editing (1 video is about 2 days worth of editing). It is definitely a full time job!
Over the years, a lot of content creators have expressed concerns over algorithms and their content being either removed or suppressed in some form or another. What are 5 pieces of advice you could give aspiring Youtubers in reference to channel growth?
1. Create videos about subjects that you are passionate about! Whether it’s art, music, makeup, gaming, etc. Don’t just try to follow the trends. Be unique! You’ll get way more people watching your videos and subscribing to your channel when they can tell you love what you are doing!
2. I’ve always been a huge advocate for posting family-friendly content. YouTube will promote your videos more when they are clean and watchable for all age groups.
3. Always make sure you write a detailed description of your video and include as many tags as you can! The more information you give Youtube about what your video is about, the more they promote it.
4. Don’t feel discouraged if your channel is growing slowly. Don’t focus on the numbers! Focus on your passion for creating content and the growth will come in time.
5. Keep a consistent posting schedule! Whether it is once a week, once a month, all week long, etc. YouTube analytics love consistency and your channel will benefit from it!
Breakdown your approach to creating for Youtube vs. TikTok. How is the same/different?
I put so much more effort into Youtube because I’ve been doing it for almost seven years and it is my main passion. It is also my main source of income so I want it to do well! To come up with an idea for a video and to then create it takes multiple days. With TikTok, they are much shorter videos and I usually make them stem from something I’ve already talked about on Youtube. Quick to edit, quick to create but I still love it!
I’ve been a big fan of Rob Gavagan, Cayleigh Elise, Creepypasta, etc. on Youtube for awhile now. Your channel fits right in for fans of that type of material. Are you familiar with them at all?
Rob Gavagan is a friend of mine! I have had the pleasure of meeting him and he was such an amazing support system for me when I first started Youtube. He was there to answer any questions that I had and it was so cool that we made similar content. I love the creepy side of Youtube!
Over the years, I’ve seen Youtubers come and go and sometimes as a viewer, we get to learn a lot about its creator’s lives along the way. I’ve seen many Youtubers mention how much of a toll the profession takes on their mental health. Do you ever feel under pressure? How do you handle things overall?
Creating content for millions of people can be very overwhelming sometimes! I am under pressure to keep posting videos that I want my subscribers to love. I never want anything to flop so I work incredibly hard. Taking mental health breaks are so important! Occasionally, I’ll have days where I’m not on social media at all. I love all of my followers but sometimes it is nice to just relax and take a second for myself.
What was your mindset behind creating content based on stories about twins?
There are so many creepy stories about twin telepathy and supernatural connections and I am so fascinated by them! It was really interesting to do research on real life stories about twins like June and Jennifer Gibbons who were known as “The Silent Twins”. I love making videos about all things strange and unusual.
What are your top 5 Horror films?
1. It Follows
2. Get Out
4. As Above So Below
My favorite film of all time is “Beetlejuice” and I saw you were wearing a Beetlejuice T-shirt in one of your videos. Lol, I don’t have one so I’m hating, jk. What are your thoughts on that film and how do you feel about the potential of the long discussed sequel?
LOVE Beetlejuice! Growing up I was fascinated by Tim Burton movies. He is my favorite director! The film is so hilarious and fun and I watch it every single year around Halloween. If they made a sequel I would be in the theater the first day it came out lol!
Tell us about the web series, “Running with Violet” and “90-year-old Roommate”.
Running with Violet is a web series created by Rebecca Davey and Marie-Claire Marcotte. It is about a lonely housewife, a single mother and her toddler who try to get out of their small town but end up getting entangled in a thrilling open road adventure. 90-year-old Roommate is about a 31-year-old single man named Ethan that moves in with his 90-year-old grandfather and they quickly realize that they have a lot to learn from each other.
What did you enjoy most about working on those projects?
Working on both of these shows was my first time acting. It was an amazing new experience! I realized that it is so different from Youtube. I had to memorize lines, re-film scenes over and over and I had to act in front of a whole room of people. Believe it or not, I am very shy in real life so being on set was very much out of my comfort zone, in a good way! I love trying new things and these were really amazing projects to be involved with!
Tell us about your collaboration with Storybooth?
Storybooth is an online network that invites teens to record and submit their stories with a chance to have them animated. They started their Youtube channel back in 2015 and this was when I was posting ‘storytime’ videos on the daily! I loved how they were spreading awareness about important subjects that many young people struggle with. So, I collaborated with them on two videos; one was about my anxiety disorder and the other was my bullying story. I was so happy to get tons of feedback letting me know that the videos were positively affecting people’s lives.
Being that a great deal of younger people are on social media, do you think it has become easier or harder to find a place to fit in? Also, what are the advantages/disadvantages of growing up during the social media era?
Social media can really affect your self esteem. It is a hard place to fit in sometimes, especially growing up in an age where you are surrounded by it. So much pressure is put on young people to be a certain way or look a certain way but it is important to understand that you’re only seeing the best parts of someone’s life. It is rare to see something real. I try to use my platform to spread awareness for things like this. Don’t try to be like anyone else but yourself!
Explain “YANA”. Also, what type of impact do you feel it has made on people thus far?
YANA stands for ‘You Are Not Alone’ and it’s a group that I created to hopefully help kids that are struggling with the anxiety of school. It is a group created in school where people come together and reach out to others that are feeling isolated, alone or bullied. Since I created this movement, there have been over 50 schools around the world that have started this group and it is growing every day. I have gotten so many positive messages from people telling me that they have found life long friends from these groups and they feel incredibly supported.
What is the most memorable message you have received from someone on your Vee Team?
It is hard to think of just one because over the years I have received so many amazing messages that I’ll remember for the rest of my life! I think the most impacting ones are from people that tell me that until they found my channel, they felt like the only one that was struggling with anxiety, depression or being bullied. It makes me so happy that I can be an inspiration to someone growing up in a crazy world like this.
How have you personally handled the pandemic?
The pandemic has been tough! I have missed my family and friends so much and I think that is something everyone can relate to. I have been blessed that my job has always been on an online platform so nothing in that sense has changed for me. I have actually noticed more people watching my videos over the past year looking for some form of distraction.
What can you tell us about Lyme disease and how it affected you personally?
Lyme disease is an infectious disease that is transmitted to humans through tick bites. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2017 and my life has never been the same. I was in bed for 4 months straight and even now I have days where my body doesn’t function normally and I have to take it easy. This is something that I’ll be dealing with for the rest of my life. I try to spread awareness for Lyme whenever I can because it’s not talked about enough. I am currently partnered with the G. Magnotta Foundation which is a research lab at the University of Guelph that will change how Lyme Disease is tested and treated in Canada.
Tell us something about yourself that most don’t know.
I put ketchup on everything, literally!
Photo of Jessii Vee courtesy of Jessii Vee.