Getting personal with YouTube star Grace Helbig
BY CARLY LANNING
Welcome back to the YouTube millionaires club, Grace Helbig.
At the start of 2014, Helbig shocked fans with the announcement that she would be leaving her beloved Daily Grace channel after the expiration of her contract with My Damn Channel. It was the ultimate breakup, and Helbig’s fans took to YouTube in a panic trying to learn the fate of their favorite awkward, lovable vlogger.
Helbig originally began creating daily vlogs for My Damn Channel in 2008 and over the years, structured her channel around the daily categories of Miscellaneous Mondays, Comment Tuesdays, Review Wednesdays, How To Thursdays, and Sexy Fridays. With countless viral videos in her archive, Helbig is best known for her hilariously random “Sexy 911 Calls” and “101 Ways To Say No To Sex”—and star-studded collaborations with popular YouTubers like Hannah Hart, Mamrie Hart, JacksGap, Zoella, Rhett and Link, Shane Dawson, Tyler Oakley, Caspar Lee, and Chester See.
Though forced to leave behind years worth of content and 2.2 million Daily Grace subscribers, Helbig has smoothly transitioned to her new channel, It’s Grace, and begun rebuilding her video portfolio. In less than two months since the channel’s launch, Helbig has gained over one million new subscribers and further secured her reputation as a YouTube badass.
The new channel wasn’t the only launch on Helbig’s plate this month. Today marks the relase of Camp Takota—the highly anticipated movie starring Helbig and her real-life best friends Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart. With a world of possibilities in front of her, Helbig talks more about leaving My Damn Channel, starting over on YouTube, and her crusade for tighty-whities.
The Daily Dot: With the new channel launched, how is everything going?
Grace Helbig: Amazingly! I have zero complaints about anything. The transition from Daily Grace to It’s Grace has been above and beyond all of my expectations and I can’t thank the YouTube community enough for being so supportive of the launch and [being] really, really sweet.
DD: What made you leave Daily Grace and the My Damn Channel?
GH: We couldn't find a mutually beneficial way to move forward, but we're on good terms and wish each other the best.
DD: Did you have concerns going into this or were you just ready to jump in?
GH: There is always hesitation when you bring any sort of change to an audience—especially change on a channel that has been on YouTube for three years and the audience is very well adapted to how things run. It’s very structured in its non-structure. I was worried that it would be too significant a change for the audience to adapt to [but] it’s been great because I think they realize that Daily Grace is not a character, it’s me, Grace Helbig, and that’s what I bring to now It’s Grace. Everyone seems super receptive and very positive and I feel great about it.
DD: Was it nerve wracking putting up the first video?
GH: It was! I wasn’t allowed to talk about it for a long time though I had known that this kind of shift was happening for a little while. So I was really nervous and the Internet—they are super sleuths, all of the kids on the Internet, and so they kind of picked up wind about it and were trading all these conspiracy theories about what was happening. So uploading the first video and getting so much outpouring of love from other members of the YouTube community was like, “Oh, this has been a good choice. I feel really positive about this.”
DD: Did you know that Daily Grace would stay with the My Damn Channel network?
GH: I didn’t know. I had no idea. I kept myself open to all the possibilities. I knew that—for the past year, I pretty much knew that I would have to start a new channel, but I still love the Internet and wanted to pour myself into the Daily Grace channel no matter what because the fan base is more important than the contract. So that was my goal while the negotiations were happening, and still is my goal now while I’m trying to rebuild. [The audience] has been so supportive of me that I want to cradle and support them and let them know that everything’s fine, we’re all good.
DD: What can we expect from the new channel? What will be the same? What will be different?
GH: Well, the channels are very similar because it’s me as myself recording myself, so you’re going to see a lot of similarities between the two. But I hope what’s different for not only the channel It’s Grace 2014, but for the brand overall, is I hope to continue to expand into other areas of creative content and original content. We have Camp Takota coming out on Valentine’s Day—we’re all so pumped for it! It’s so exciting! So our foray into new media meets old media makeout romantically on Valentine’s day so I’m hoping to continue to expand the brand. I don’t have a five year plan, maybe I should. I don’t have a five month plan, I probably should, but I’m just saying yes to opportunities that feel right for myself and for the audience [that’s] cultivated.
DD: Any plans you can talk about now?
GH: Well obviously Camp Takota. Camp Takota is kind of on the brain now that [it's] available—which is crazy. So just a rreminder to everyone that they can go to camptakota.com and order the film along with a variety of treats as you will [laughs]. One [treat] being tighty whitey underwear with our names on the band—yeah, it’s a high class production that we’re running. And the underwear was my idea and I pitched it every single marketing meeting and it finally went through so I really support the underwear. Other than that, working on some TV stuff and hoping that develops into something a little more [that I can] officially talk about. And just kind of trying to keep It’s Grace growing and get the feet on the ground and figure out exactly what it is—because it still feels like a little bit of a newborn baby. Like a newborn baby born with more intelligence than other newborn babies in a way. A baby that already knows how to walk when it comes out of the womb.
DD: Oh, those babies.
GH: Yeah, one of those!
DD: Have you figured out what each day is going to be? It’s been fun seeing it change.
GH: After doing a total of five years of Daily Grace, you kind of get burned out on doing the same thing over and over again, so I am allowing myself to not have totally any specific structure. I like that there will be some structure so people know what to expect, but for it to be spontaneous and people [can] help build it with me. I really want the audience to feel like we’re building this together—that their suggestions are helpful and will tailor how things go in the future. Also, just keeping it kind of free flowing with a little bit of structure—so it’s a blazer and skirt.
DD: Are you interested in signing with another network?
GH: I’m not totally sure. I’ve had a lot of meetings with a lot of wonderful networks and I am in negotiations with some right now, but in my brain there is no real rush at the moment. My main concern is making sure the audience is happy.
DD: Has it been all positive? Have there been challenges?
GH: It’s been really surprisingly very positive. It’s been really great and everyone, like I said, has been really supportive. The only struggle really is how to keep things fresh now that there’s a new opportunity to do that. It’s just wracking my creative brain and trying to keep things new and fun and interesting and relevant, and also, completely irrelevant.
DD: What inspires you to keep making content everyday?
GH: Oh it’s crazy, but it’s become such a part of my day to day routine, I feel like it’s something I have to do or I’ll feel like I didn’t do anything. I took a week off before Christmas time and I felt so strange because it’s so ingrained in me everyday to sit and edit or shoot. I’m constantly thinking about ideas, that if I didn’t do it, I think I would feel nervous about not releasing that creative energy that happens when I get to make these videos. Stupid, but I just need a moment in my day when I can just release complete stupidity.
Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)