“I think I love the Internet so much that I kinda just want to stay on the Internet for now,” she told me. “With Web shows and stuff, I have a lot of creative freedom there.”
The 19-year-old certainly has a lot of creative freedom on her hands. She started making gymnastics and cheerleading tutorials on YouTube after being inspired by the ones she looked up more than five years ago, but since then she’s geared her channel more toward lifestyle how-to videos and vlogs.
Initially, DeAngelis only did it for herself. While she watched other tutorials online, she never thought people would actually watch hers, which were more a means of getting better at gymnastics. But the more her flips took over that section of YouTube, the more her growing fanbase wanted to learn more. She offered a few snippets about her life in videos, almost as an aside—mentioning she’d just come home from school before she started rolling, making a quick comment on how she looked.
People started asking her questions about her life, and she divulged. To her, the viewers weren’t just blank faces watching her on a screen.
“[It was] kinda like becoming friends, like what you do when you become friends with someone,” she explained. “I started doing other videos like updates on my life, and I realized I had this whole group of Internet friends and I can do whatever videos I wanted, and it was just really fun.”
Like many YouTubers, DeAngelis dabbled a little bit in vlogging, but the more she did it, the more she enjoyed it—enough to eventually abandon the videos that got her some of her subscribers in the first place. And while she lost some subscribers, those who were interested in her stayed.
She started making more vlogs about her life while focusing fashion videos and focus on DIY. After visiting a friend in Los Angeles and discovering the YouTube community, she dropped out of college and moved across the country to try and make it.
DeAngelis is among a generation of teen YouTube stars who largely grew up on the service, offering an up close and personal look into her life to thousands of subscribers (which is now up to more than 1.6 million). They’re being compared to reality stars, but unlike the shows that have taken over TV, where what makes the cut is up to a group of editors or the people producing the show and things may be taken out of context or played for the sake of drama, everything on a YouTube channel is up to the creators themselves. You’re opening up to a bunch of Internet strangers, but you’re in charge of the content.
As far as what that content is, DeAngelis is essentially an open book—except for the obvious.
“I think of [my fans] as friends, so I pretty much share everything, except [if] it has to do with my safety and my address; I’m not gonna share that,” she said. “But everything else, I’m really, really open about, to be honest.”
And how she delivers it is captivating audiences left and right. Her creativity stands out, especially when it comes to her crafts.
“One day I was at a craft store, and I was looking at a shelf and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I could literally any of put hundreds of these things together in hundreds of different ways,’” DeAngelis said. “So I bought a lot of it—too much of it, probably—but then, from that day forward, if I want to think of ideas, I just go to the craft store and look at the shelves.”
She signed up with AwesomenessTV in February, which allowed her to test the waters by acting in sketches and now a scripted webseries in Royal Crush, which takes place on an actual cruise ship and follows two cousins as they fall for the same guy. It premiered Nov. 23 on AwesomenessTV’s YouTube channel and updates weekly on Sundays.
While she got to shoot on a cruise ship, she says she didn’t get to see much of it during filming.
“I didn’t really get to see much of the ship, but it was so much fun because we all became really good friends—the cast and crew—and everyone was really easy to work with,” she said. “And I had an amazing time.”
And when it comes to creative content, that’s all you can really hope for.
Photo courtesy of Meg DeAngelis