Words by: Camylle Fleming
Eavesdropping at happy hour in a trendy café in a newly gentrified section of Washington, DC a once Chocolate City, I find myself surrounded by a diverse spread of late-teens and twenty-somethings staffing the host stand, mixing cocktails at the bar, signing into virtual classrooms on handhelds and harping over their 9 to 5 woes. This place, and the greater DMV, is crawling with digital natives. A group that economists, politicians, marketers and the media have dubbed Generation Y, Echo Boomers or Millennials. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, this sector of the population born between the early 80s and 2000s amounts to approximately 80 million people and is the largest and most diverse generation in our nation’s history. Coming on the heels of Generation X, this group is the very first to be shaped by technology from their formative years onward.
Headlines read: “Confident; Connected; Open to Change” – Pew Research Center; “Selfish and Entitled”- Time magazine; “Optimistic” – Al Jazeera; “Cash-strapped” – BBC; “Struggling and Scared” – Forbes; “Biz-Savvy” – Fortune; “Civically-Minded, Well Informed” – Lexington Herald Leader; “Multi-Passionate” ThinDifference.com; “Reckless, Spoiled, Lazy” – The Sunday Times; “Career Jugglers” –The New York Times. With so many conflicting claims, it’s hard to distinguish between noise and the truth. So as to avoid adding to this speculative fodder, we are choosing to shine the spotlight on millennials themselves.
Aside from all of the usual suspects and obvious choices like Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, YouTube stars Jenna Marbles, PewDiePie, Vine star Nash Gier and the like, here in this inaugural issue of Manifest magazine, we provide a cross-section of Generation Y that will include (in no specific order), some people you know as well as some you may not. Our register boasts a motley collection of thought leaders, new-age social celebrities, industry experts, business moguls, all fitting the millennial profile. A few launched their multi-million dollar brands in their childhood bedrooms (Tavi Gevinson; Jamal Edwards). Several conquered uncharted territory peddling user-generated videos (Lilly Singh; Jeromme Jarre; Andrew Bachelor). Some were discovered performing in their own pocket of the world (Ebony “Wondagurl” Oshunride). Others simply shared their discoveries with the world and the world responded (Stephanie Le; Emily Graslie; Mosa'ab Elshamy). A handful capitalized on their interest offering, expert advice and stumbled upon a commanding audience with the same interest (Marques Brownlee; Tanya Burr; Sheryll Donnerson; Michelle Phan; Cara Ellison). Then there are those who actually have created the very platforms we all use to connect and seek out new information (David Karp; John O’Nolan; Esra'a Al-Shafei; Divya Nag; Jennifer Arguello). This eclectic mix of interesting and enterprising people who are all defying convention represents the vast array of talent that is ever present within the millennial set and is further proof that the possibilities for this generation knows no bounds.
In just five short years Echo Boomers will make up nearly 50% of the U.S. workforce. As you survey our list of 30 under 30, bear witness to the dismantling of the traditional conception of “work” as strenuous and unfulfilling and watch the gradual construction of a new reality built on passion and pluck. As a Millennial, ask yourself: what do I want “work” to look and feel like? And let your life be your answer. Good luck!
#7 Sophia Amoruso founder of Nasty Gal, the global online destination known for fashion-forward and free-thinking clothing is the brainchild of Sophia Amoruso who started the company in 2006 on eBay selling vintage clothing. Sophia sourced, styled, shot, and shipped her sartorial pieces to tastemakers worldwide on her own. An early e-tail pioneer in the social media arena, Sophia used word-of-mouth and social platforms exclusively to build her brand and communicate with customers and fans. Since its inception, the brand Nasty Gal has grown exponentially each year serving over one million customers in more than 180 countries, with about 25% of sales occurring outside of the US. Today, Nasty Gal counts over 1.1MM Facebook fans, 1.4MM Instagram followers, 195,000 Twitter followers, 110,000 Pinterest followers, and 165,000 Tumblr followers as part of their rapidly growing cult following. Before Nasty Gal Sophia worked a
series of day jobs including working in bookstores, record stores, a photo lab and even watered lawns at business parks. She credits all of this with helping her develop a varied skill set to bring into her clothing business. Off the heels of "Best Selling" book tour for #GIRLBOSS, Sophia celebrated by opening her first brick and mortar store located at 8115 Melrose Avenue in the heart of Hollywood. The store offers a curated selection of apparel, shoes, intimates, accessories, tech and gifting, as well as exclusive vintage pieces that Nasty Gal is known for. About the new extension of her brand, Sophia says, "We are creating real-life social media by engaging the community we have built purely online. Where that goes is truly limitless."
Head OF The Class
14. Lilly “llSuperwomanll” Singh is a 26 year old Internet sensation who has cultivated a worldwide audience to the tune of almost 5 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, where she posts two new videos every week. The Toronto, Canada native uses her wit, charm, sense of humor and obvious intelligence to make light of universal themes and cringe worthy moments that is life for today’s Millennials. Through her YouTube videos, posted every Monday and Thursday, Lilly has made it her business - as well as made a business out of putting a comedic spin on real life situations that resonate with her peers around the globe.
Many first-timers who stumble upon Lilly’s videos naturally gravitate to the most popular videos like, "How Girls Get Ready," "Types of Parents," and "Types of Kids at School,” which today has almost 9 million views and over 30,000 comments. Consequently, they get hooked by Lilly’s inviting and inclusive persona that shines brightly through in her daily interactive vlogs, music videos and collaborations with other YouTubers and social media stars. If Hollywood ever came calling, Lilly would easily be a triple and even quadruple threat. Not only can she write and produce, but she can act, she can dance and she can rap. In fact, some might even venture to say that IISuperWomanII, could give most female rappers on the market today, a run for their money. However, unlike conventional starlets, traditionally relished for their extravagant lifestyles, Lilly's appeal is based in being genuinely relatable as well as her keen ability to masterfully dissect the #lifefails of everyday existence with punctual specificity and turn them into lessons learned that we can all laugh about.
As in videos like,“Sh*t Punjabi Mothers Say,” where she portrays her stereotypical stern India born mother, Lilly’s true talent lies in her ability to get to the crux of the matter, producing content that translates seamlessly from one continent to the next. It is this awareness of the universality of certain feelings, experiences and realities that will ultimately contribute to her sustainability as an entertainer.
"Just sitting here at the corner of awesome and bombdiggity," reads a comment on one of Lilly’s video post. This seems to be a sentiment shared by millions of llSuperwomanll fans, who not only look forward to her YouTube videos, but also clamor to halls worldwide to get a glimpse of and be inspired by the real life super talent that is Lilly “IISuperwomanII” Singh. When she is not creating videos, Lilly spends her time traveling the world. From participating in panel discussions on college campuses, to festivals like SXSW in Austin, TX, Social Con in Chicago, Fan Fest in Singapore and several places in between, Lilly makes it a priority to get up close and personal with her fans made up of mostly teenage girls whenever possible.
Overall the rise to stardom for Lilly and her counterparts in this age of digital ubiquity is a testament to millennials defying the labels that have been placed upon them. They are taking matters into their own hands, carving their own paths, shaping their own futures, and creating their own business models.
Through the exploitation of social media platforms like YouTube, Vine and Snapchat, these digital natives are forging through a landscape of uncharted territory that is growing and changing every day. The ability to adapt to and keep up with this ever changing landscape is a key difference between millennials and generations preceding them; who are less flexible and have a stake in maintaining the status quo. However, the paradigm is quickly shifting with the once purveyors becoming the solicitors, while Hollywood and Madison Avenue try to hitch a ride on the wave of these social stars taking the digital world by storm.
Through these platforms regular people with no agents, no managers and no glam squads have become the new heavy hitters. Homegrown celebrities like IISuperwomanII, Jenna Marbles, Michelle Phan, PewDiePie, King Bach, Bethany Mota and Logan Paul; with just raw talent and ingenuity are besting the Hollywood machine and beating Tinsel Town at their own game.
One of the most compelling things about Lilly and the other people on the Top 30 List is that they have accomplished all that they have by not following what conventional wisdom says is necessary to be successful. By taking matters into their own hands, they haven’t had to squeeze themselves into a box that is someone else's vision or perception of what they should be. Instead without having to employ the “sex sells” mentality, without blood and gore, gratuitous violence and mostly without crude blue humor; they have amassed audiences in the millions. In fact, Lilly even dedicates a section of her YouTube channel to "Positive Vibes Inspiration, Motivation and Smiles."
Just as is the case with millennials overall, there are many sides that make up the sum total of Lilly “IISuperwomanII” Singh turned worldwide super phenom. To find out how she keeps it all in perspective in her own words, continue reading below:
Others often describe you as a comedian. Is this how you would describe yourself?
I never call myself a comedian, because I don’t think I’m funny. I think I’m just silly and people laugh at me. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. If I had to describe myself I would say unicorn, weird person who likes to smile. That would be my description.
In the words of Lilly, “Unicorn Island is wherever you want it to be, whenever you want it there. It’s a place where it’s okay to be silly, dance in public, laugh out loud and hug strangers. It’s where our imaginations go to play and for that reason, anything is possible on the Island. Hate, ignorance and negativity don’t exist here. I mean, with the Cotton Candy bushes, Skittles Waterfall and Mushroom iPod Speakers, there’s just no room for anything crummy.”
You studied Psychology at York University but joke about being blessed enough not to have to use it. What takeaways did you get from college?
I learned a lot about being social. I know that sounds very cliché and general, but I was a part of a lot of extracurricular activities. I was a part of a lot of dance teams and it taught me a lot about life and how to deal with people and different types of relationships. On top of that, this might not sound really good, but going through university and going through the experience of forcing myself to go to class and doing assignments I didn't care for taught me that I really want to do something in life that I love and enjoy doing, because I was doing something that I didn't enjoy for so long. The biggest takeaway for me was do what you enjoy doing because that is the only way it doesn't feel like work. I’m not the type of person who can bear doing things I don’t want to do.
You have talked in the past about going through a really tough period and dealing with depression. What advice can you give to others going through the same thing?
It’s very hard to give advice to anyone going through depression. When you are going through depression it’s very hard for things to get through to you. It really has to come from within to make a decision to pick yourself back up. However, I will say that it helps to think long term and not just in the moment. It’s very easy to get absorbed in the emotions of the moment. I always say we tend to look at the 4x6 picture of life when there is a whole reel of images we should be looking at.
How about for friends and family supporting someone going through depression?
That’s a great question. Honestly, I think in general mental illness needs to be discussed more and especially among the South Asian community and amongst various other communities. It’s such a taboo thing to discuss, but I think it needs to be openly discussed and people need to realize that these are real issues and treat them as such. Like, not saying things like “oh you’ll get over ita' or “pick yourself back up.” No! It’s an actual issue that takes peoples’ lives and needs to be treated as such.
What is the key to your success?
With what I do, I honestly don’t think there is any secret to success. There are billions of hours of content on YouTube. Some people make it and some people don’t. It’s hard to tell who is going to make it and who won’t. For me personally, if I was to say one secret, which is not really a secret, it’s consistency. People who watch YouTube need to be constantly attached to someone or something. They can’t do that if you’re posting videos once every two months. So the secret to my success has been consistency and definitely “keeping it real.” Also this is going to sound really unicornish, but I think the secret to success is doing things for the right reason. You can tell when you’re watching someone on YouTube and they are doing it to make money, they’re doing it to be Internet famous or if they are doing it because they genuinely like to do it. When people watch someone who genuinely likes what they are doing it shows and I think that leads to success.
Who makes you laugh?
Melissa McCarthy makes me laugh, Zooey Deschanel makes me laugh, Russell Peters makes me laugh and a lot of YouTubers make me laugh so much like Maranda Sings, Grace Helbig, and Jenna Marbles – hilarious.
Before you were a famous YouTuber, what types of jobs did you have?
I’ve had all types of jobs from fast food, to retail, to telemarketing. In interviews, I’m kind of like I am in my videos, which is probably why I never got any good jobs, (laughs).
Do you have a mentor who is helping you navigate your way?
Actually, no I don’t. That’s the thing about YouTube. It’s such a new phenomenon, because it’s only seven or eight years old. People who are on YouTube now, they’re not able to look back and learn from anyone who did it previously necessarily. All of us are guessing. Like I discuss this with all of my YouTube friends. We are all guessing along the way and making it up as we go. Through trial and error we are just trying to create a path for the future, I guess.
As an entertainer are you seeing any new trends emerging?
Well, above and beyond selfie’s, I think we live in an era where people have a very short attention span. They don’t like to fix things. They like to replace things. They like to constantly be entertained. That’s why the Internet and the digital space is such a huge success, because they can watch things when they want, how they want and exactly what they want as opposed to Television which is programmed. I feel like this generation needs to be go-go-go! There is nothing slow paced or patient about this generation.
What are some of the biggest differences between America and Canada?
I go to America a lot and there they call pop, soda and I’m just like when you open a can of pop, it goes POP! It doesn't go, soda!
What are some of the favorite places you've visited?
It would be Singapore. It would be Florence. It’s nice in France and I love me some India as well.
You often reference your love of Bollywood. How would you describe it to someone who is unfamiliar with it?
Bollywood is the dramatization and exaggeration of things every person goes through. In real life you may fall in love, but in Bollywood YOU-FALL-IN-LOVE!!!!
What use to be your biggest weakness?
I think prior to YouTube two of my biggest weaknesses use to be kind of keeping within my comfort zone. I would do things, I would be outgoing, but it would always be within that certain limit. I’d always stay safe in my little safe bubble. Now with all of the opportunity I get and all of the directions I’m being pulled, I do things that I am so nervous and scared of doing, but I just do them, because I know that success lies outside of your comfort zone.
How do you deal with haters?
Haters are inevitable. Eventually you develop a thicker skin, but also being exposed to so much positivity, it makes it easier to deal with hate. It’s just something you have to talk to yourself about and realize that is the Internet and that is humanity. It's not going to change and you gotta do something you love so much where it doesn't even matter what the haters say.
So, how about friendships gone sour?
You know what happens, you become someone in the public eye and suddenly people are judging you way more harshly. Friends that never even talked to you, talk to you now and people start saying, “oh you’re too good for us now?” It happens. I think what it is, is that you have to recognize that is a part of life. You can’t let everything get to you. It is a part of the journey. The journey has its pros and it has its cons. For me personally, I have a small intimate group of friends. I try not to go outside of that because I am aware. I think being aware that these things will happen is a really great way to deal with them.
If you could, which two historical figures would you choose to be featured in your videos?
Ooooh! Michael Jackson for sure and Bob Marley. That would be an epic collaboration.
Oprah Winfrey always ends her interviews with this question, what do you know for sure?
I know for sure that time heals everything and everything will be okay if I so choose it to be. So in short, if I decide to I’ll have a good day today.
22. Andrew "King Bach" Bachelor"
Leader of The Ruling Class
Known justifiably as the "King of Vine," Andrew “King Bach” Bachelor, went from 3,000 to 1 million followers on Vine’s video sharing app in just one month. His current social media stats are over 11 million followers on Vine, 591k on Twitter and 539k subscribers to his BachelorsPadTV on Youtube and counting. Formally trained in both film and finance, King Bach’s reign is mostly fueled by his natural knack for quick-witted storytelling, a trait he says he picked up from his father. This 26 year old entrepreneur from South Florida by way of Toronto, is making us smile, laugh and howl daily. What’s most impressive about all of this is that he does it in just 6 seconds flat! His secret - RAW TALENT!
Most notably, King Bach’s parodies spoofing award winning performances by Denzel Washington from the movies Flight and The Equalizer along with comedy skits making light of everyday events like, But That Back Flip Tho or Do You Need a Ride part 1 -3, caught fire on the Internet and he has been burning up Vine ever since. King Bach's seemingly omnipotent presence on social media, coupled with the fact that he is just Damn Good, has afforded King Bach just as many opportunities to strut his stuff outside of the internet and into mainstream media programming like MTV’s Wild 'n Out, Adult Swim’s Black Jesus, Showtime’s House of Lies, a reoccurring role on NBC’s The Mindy Project, and a role in Mike Epps’ soon to be released film, Meet the Blacks. By all indications, “The King” (sorry T.I. but you only have 900 followers on Vine) is headed for the fast track to Hollywood fame and fortune.
A new-age celebrity who is literally writing his own scripts, Andrew “King Bach” Bachelor ranks at the top of the leader board of social media stars taking the digital age by storm. Five years ago, King Bach graduated from Florida State and then after making a pit stop at the New York Film Academy decided to pack his bags and head to Hollywood with dreams of becoming the world’s biggest movie star. However, finding the traditional rigmarole of trying to land the “big break,” daunting at best, this self-starter put his film education to work and took matters into his own hands using social media as a platform to showcase his talent. Within three years on his grind on the Vine, Fortune 500 companies like Samsung and the Brand Jordan began hunting him down, hoping to play on his court for a chance wooing his subjects and loyal followers. In fact, after the many references to Jordans in his Vines, it was only a natural progression that Nike would tap him to star in a new Jordan commercial. The sixty second vignette showcases King Bach, true to form, mastering multiple characters throughout.
Although to the audience it may all look like fun and games, what was revealed in this interview is that King Bach and Andrew Bachelor are two very different people. While the persona of King Bach is an animated, silly, happy-go-lucky kind of guy, Andrew Bachelor is a very serious, determined, dedicated, task master; thus a testament to his talent.
While someone on the outside looking in might think hanging around with friends shooting video all day is a simple and convenient thing to do; in actually seconds featured in one sketch represents long hours of focused behind-the-scenes work. What might look like a whole bunch of Viners, casually hangin’ out, is never just that. For instance, when asked about the cast of characters that often appear in his vine videos, King Bach reply’s, “ I don’t really hang out much with the people I shoot stuff with. If I hang out with Viners, I’m just Vining with them. I don’t really hang out with too many people honestly, if I am hanging out with someone, we’re just chillin’ playing video games or watching YouTube videos.”
This is telling in that, similarly to the way websites arrogate content from other websites and blogs; Viners, YouTubers, Snap Chaters and the like have really formed their own community and have constructed a system that they themselves control and preside over. They do their own writing individually and together, they do their own casting, they do their own costuming and wardrobe and they run full fledged productions funded mostly with ingenuity and grit; a formula that King Bach has seemed to master. Check out below for what King Bach has to say about his budding success in his own words:
"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but
I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."
- Bruce Lee
M: You’re taking over the Internet. Where exactly are you headed?
KB: I want to be the biggest movie star ever created.
M: What is the biggest misconception about you?
KB: Doesn’t read what others write for you, he’s not interested.
M: What filmmakers inspire you?
KB: Quentin Tarantino, Michael Bay, James Cameron.
M: What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned thus far?
KB: One plus one equals two, success is simple; hard work pays off.
M: Do you have a mentor?
KB: Well, I've done it all on my own really. It's a little different for me than everyone else. I studied people from a far, I guessed what worked for them and I tried it for myself. If it failed, I tried something else. I didn't really have anyone there to guide me. My parents come from a finance background; they don't know anything really about the entertainment industry, so I just went with my instincts.
M: What frustrates you?
KB: Tardiness, yeah late people frustrate me.
M: What gadget can’t you live without?
KB: My toothbrush… [laughs] no, my iPhone.
M: What makes you happy?
KB: My family, when they are happy, I’m happy. I love them.
M: Do you have a theme song?
KB: Hmmm, never really thought about that, Go, Go Power Rangers, [pauses and [giggles]. Yeah let’s go with that.
M: What’s a quote that you live?
KB: Wait, let me get this right …I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times - Bruce Lee. That shows that practice makes perfect and don't try to do a million things; just focus on one thing and get good at it.
M: Why do you play down your success?
KB: I'm focused on the work, not the results.
M: How do you describe yourself?
KB: I'm just a hard worker. That's all I am. I'm very goal driven. And I don't think I'm the funniest person out there, but I may work harder.
M: Where did you get your storytelling skills?
KB: My father really. He was always telling stories. Before we'd go to sleep at night, he would tell us a story that he made up and some were funny, some were not, but they were all cool. I guess I got my imagination from his side.
M: Do you have advice for those looking to follow your footsteps?
KB: Set a goal, work hard to achieve that goal and don't close doors that present themselves to you, because everything happens for a reason. Swag!
M: What advice would you give to your younger self.
KB: What I would tell my younger self is do the same thing you did because along that journey and that struggle, there were so many lessons that made young me - the old me - medium me - appreciate what the present-me has gained in the future- me. I lost myself with that...
M: What’s your biggest weakness?
KB: I'm a hard critic which causes me to question a lot of my material. For example, for the Vine I did called "ThatBackFlipTho," when I made that, I didn't really like it. I was going to just delete it and not upload it. But then I was like, I haven’t posted anything all day, so I was like alright, fuck it! When stuff is not perfect I just want to make it better, but often I waste time, and you could miss out on a lot of gold.
Incidentally that video became one of his most popular Vines and even spawned a catch phase. All in all, for a social media giant who is fast becoming legend, King Bach’s humility is palpable. His agility as an artist coupled with his down to earth demeanor, are undoubtedly qualities needed to sustain a career in entertainment and assuredly his will be a prosperous one. A new-age celebrity, Andrew “King Bach” Bachelor ranks as a Leader in the new ruling class of social media stars taking the digital world by storm. For your daily dose of the King, check him out on The Vine at #KingBach.
Check out the best of King Bach Vines Below...
Vine versus Youtube Battle featuring both King Bach, IISuperwomenII and more.