YouTuber and Musician KennieJD on Life as a Digital Creator

I had the chance to connect with one of my favorite YouTubers, KennieJD. KennieJD’s YouTube channel is primarily focused on beauty, but with a twist of her hilarious personality. She also writes and produces her own music, recently releasing her second full-length EP, Black Neon, in 2020. We discussed her evolution as a digital creator, her plans to produce more music, and what she’s listening to when she’s getting ready.

Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to start making YouTube videos?

Whenever someone asks me this it’s such a loaded question! The way it started is nothing like how it is now, because it’s kind of grown up as I have. I originally started the channel when I was 16 and I was doing it to practice Korean language. Now, almost 10 years later, it’s a not-so-beautiful beauty channel.

Your makeup is always amazing—how did you learn to do it so perfectly? 

I started doing makeup as a hobby when I was about 12-13 years old. At the time, I just thought of it the same way I did painting and drawing (I was an art kid all my childhood) so as I’ve grown up makeup has become one of my methods of artistic expression. So I guess the trick is practice, to answer your question directly. But also products are a lot better these days, quality-wise. There’s so much to choose from now and so much accessible knowledge. I feel like, with time and products, anyone could get pretty good at it.

Has the way you apply makeup or create looks changed over the years? If so, how did it evolve? 

Absolutely, I tend to be a person that gets bored very easily in general so I go through phases. I have soft phases, grungy phases, cutesy phases, baddie phases, natural, glam, and everywhere in between. Overall, I have noticed that I don’t do nearly as MUCH anymore, as in thickness because I don’t feel like I need to. 

What are the pros and cons of having a large online platform? 

I think the most wonderful thing that has come about from the platform is a sense of community. I think my audience is really something special in that it’s this little ecosystem of cool, thoughtful, and caring people. I know “fans” (I’m not a huge fan of the word) get a bad rep but honestly, the fam is very chill. 

The only con I can think of is that I feel people outside of that community don’t understand it and project this stereotype of “a girl with a lot of followers” onto me. It isn’t great for my dating life lol. Because men either look at you as an “opportunity” for their own ambitions or stuck up. But that’s a payoff I’m definitely willing to make.

Have you ever run into any challenges or frustrations in the YouTube beauty community? 

No, not really. I find that the beauty community is another thing that gets a bad rep because of some large-scale bad actors but, for me, especially amongst other Black and POC beauty creators, there has been nothing but love. 

You’re very interactive with your fans, and you have a great way of bringing viewers in—when I watch your videos, it feels like getting ready with a friend. What values are important to you in your own online community? 

The community and the legacy of it. As a person, I am quite mindful of the impact that I want to have and the community that I was to not only create and partake in. I’ve never felt particularly close to the dichotomy of  famous person vs. fans. I never found that it was ever beneficial to either party. The famous person must upkeep a standard of perfection that isn’t healthy and fans expect and demand that level. I’ve never wanted to be seen as someone that just creates content, because I’m not. I’m a constantly spinning ball of chaos with nothing to hide. So if you’ll enjoy that, you’ll enjoy the channel and me. If you don’t, there is nothing sensational enough to stay for.  

How have you built your platform with these values and ideas in mind? 

Authenticity. Being unafraid to admit that I am a work in progress, like everyone else. I like to not only have those values but vocalize them. It’s not about what type of person my viewers want to see, it’s about being the person I am and casting a net to those you vibe with it.

What are some of your favorite experiences you’ve had with your fans? 

Before the world closed, I had a meet and greet in Seoul with one of my favorites companies, Wishtrend. It was so amazing because I really didn’t think anyone would come and it sold out pretty much immediately. I also had one in Gothenburg, Sweden randomly. Again, I often forget that my little channel over in my office can impact people from places I’ve never seen. So, seeing all these people face to face was super surreal but also very touching.

Tell me about the way you develop new videos for your channel. Are you working on any new series? If so, how did they come to life?

I honestly don’t plan ahead enough! I’m currently doing a series called Bad Movies & A Beat which are Get Ready With Me style videos where I talk about another interest of mine, comically bad movies. People seem to really like that.

What’s a typical day in your life like? 

Waking up at 9 am and going back to sleep until 10, haha. The gyms have reopened here and no one goes, so I feel pretty safe going there most days. I’ve taken up cooking, so I stuff my face. If it’s a film day, I film and edit. Then immediately take the makeup off because it’s a conversation starter in public and I don’t really like talking to random people lol. Then I just putter around my apartment. Listen to music, playing video games, checking in on friends etc.

I’m a huge fan of your Bad Movie and a Beat series. How does a bad movie make the cut for you? 

Usually, my baseline is that I need to be able to watch it and immediately come up with jokes. It must come pretty naturally—otherwise it really was a true waste of my time.

When you’re not watching a movie, what are your favorite songs to listen to while getting ready?  

I am currently really enjoying the Cafe Con Leché playlist on Spotify. It’s just calming music in Spanish. I also really like Yseult, she makes really beautiful music as well. But overall I just like to listen to chill songs because makeup is quite a therapeutic experience for me.

What should fans look for from you in 2021?

If the world starts moving again, I’d really like to be in person more with my audience. Spend more time with my dad. I want to dabble more in music making perhaps? Find new ways to be artistic and share that with my audience. 

Follow KennieJD on YouTube, and stay in touch with her on Twitter and Instagram.

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