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An aspiring filmmaker, actress, singer, and vlogger, Hazel Hayes is the perfect combination of three things: substance, creativity, and comedy.
At my previous job, I worked as a video curator for a show called YouTube Nation, where I was tasked with the specific role of making YouTube creators accessible to a broad audience (your best friend who lives under a rock, your mom, the bagel man down the street). Most the time, I was fighting an uphill battle, trying to justify to producers and writers that this tag/trend/creator was worth a coveted spot in the final daily lineup. And then there were some days when I wasn’t taking no for an answer; I was the Elle Woods of video curation. On one of those days in particular, I was on a one-way mission to get Hazel Hayes’ short film Super Brainy Zombies into the show. I saw it as not only a way of highlighting a talented creator like Hayes, but as a means of empowering young girls to write, produce, direct, and act in their own content.
From then on, Hazel Hayes has always held a very special place in my heart.
Irish-born and London-based, Hayes first started making videos in 2011 after scoring a job with YouTube—her job to this day. Her mission? To understand all that went into making videos on YouTube so she could better serve the community she was representing. In four years, Hayes’ channel Chewing Sand has racked up 5.1 million views—more than the population of the entire state of Alabama.
Her channel boasts a grab bag of content, with her sass, sarcasm, and wit cementing everything together. Her webseries include Unnecessary Otter, a comedy series starring herself and a stuffed ferret; Time of the Month, a beautifully edited monthly vlog showcasing her monthly adventures; and my personal favorite, Tipsy Talk, in which she drinks with famous YouTube friends and talks about anything that propels the pair through the waters of their booze cruise.
But the projects where Hayes truly excels are her amazing collaboration videos. In her chats and challenges with some of the biggest creators in the U.K., Hayes brings out the best in the people around her, allowing them to be their most authentic and ridiculous selves. With a collaboration roster including Ben Cook, Amazing Phil, Sprinkle of Glitter, Jack Howard, Tim H, and World of the Orange’s Brad Smith, Hayes lets her fans live vicariously through her videos, pretending they themselves are having these random conversations with their dream creators.
Hayes recently partnered with ChildLine’s campaign Fight Against Porn Zombies to educate young fans about about the effects porn can have on themselves and their relationships. Her video, “A Guide to Porn,” is so important because it normalizes the conversation around porn and encourages fans to ask questions and always communicate what they’re comfortable with. On ChildLine’s own channel, Hayes is a part of a cartoon series—alongside other YouTubers such as Tomska and Hannah Witton—in which she plays a badass professor fighting against the “porn zombies” epidemic.
Needless to say, Hazel Hayes is a breath of fresh air among my subscription list, and while only time will tell how her channel will continue to evolve, one thing is for certain: There is no one who does a YouTube zombie movie quite like her.
Screengrab via ChewingSand/YouTube
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.