Move aside Jenna Marbles, there’s another influential YouTuber in town- as a matter of fact, at Milken. Junior Saphira Howell has been creating YouTube videos since 2010, and since has developed an impressive following of nearly 100,000 subscribers from across the globe. Her videos address topics like fashion, popularity, puberty, self-confidence, and even sexual harassment. She recently gave a TED talk about her YouTube channel, which will later be posted on the Milken TEDx YouTube site. The Roar sat down with Saphira to discuss inspiration, accomplishments, and all things SaphiraFashion.
NP: What made you want to start this channel?
SH: I was in middle school and didn’t have much confidence, but I watched these girls on YouTube who were so glamorous and confident and I wanted to be just like them. After a friend suggested that we both start making videos (it had never occurred to me before that I could actually make my own) I asked my mom, she said yes, and I started posting videos.
NP: Who are some of your biggest YouTube inspirations?
SH: Some of my biggest inspirations are Michelle Phan and Casey Neistat. Michelle is well known across the globe for her makeup tutorials, but I admire her for her drive. She’s the type of woman who built her entire multimillion dollar business from the ground up and completely on her own with the dream and accomplishment of supporting her family as a result. As for Casey Neistat, he’s not as well known as Michelle, but still a big name in the filmmaking world. Casey, like Michelle, has a lot of ambition and makes things happen. He’s an impeccable storyteller and will do almost anything for his art – that’s something to aspire to.
NP: Why should people watch your channel?
SH: People should watch my channel because my videos are honest. I think a lot of the time when people who know me in my personal life watch me, they feel like they’re intruding on my life because I’m so open. My videos cover topics that you’re probably supposed to be embarrassed about – like sex, puberty, and funny anecdotes – but I’m not.
NP: Is there a specific audience, or is the channel accessible and relatable to different kinds of people?
SH: My main audience are girls and women from about ages 10-24. However, over the past year I’ve noticed the increase in comments and emails coming from guys saying that they’re able to relate to my videos as well, which is something that I’m really proud of and am embracing a lot in my newer content.
NP: Is it ever weird to realize how influential you are and how many people know so much about you and idolize you?
SH: It’s not really something that I think about. I just talk to the camera as if I’m talking to a friend or a little sister: someone that I trust and care about. I normally don’t realize the influence until I’m scrolling through Instagram or Twitter and I see pictures of girls who went out and bought the same headphones that I wore in a video or put up a picture of me in their room. Sometimes I’ll meet viewers in person and they’ll mention things which I’ve said in a past videos that I can’t even recall talking about. It’s like starting a conversation with someone who is already your best friend and who you’ve known for years.
NP: Whats your favorite quote or piece of advice?
SH: A few months back I started living by Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: “Do one thing every day that scares you” and it’s been changing my life.
NP: Besides fashion and being a YouTube star, what are some of your biggest passions?
SH: I feel need to say this: I smiled when I read “YouTube star” because it’s just me with a camera in my bedroom haha but I love writing and reading. They’re such an outlet and escape from everything. I also love movies. I love TV shows too, but my favorite thing to do is put on fuzzy socks and watch a classic, old movie in bed. I’m boring like that.
NP: You recently had a meet and greet, how was that?
SH: It was… I can’t even think of a word to describe it. But I will never forget it. I showed up in Times Square in New York expecting maybe three girls to show up. As we were walking up I literally said to my mom “Let’s go meet the three people” and then I saw this crowd of girls holding up signs and pictures on posters and one of them ran up to me when she saw me and gave me a huge hug. This is what I meant when I said that it’s like they’re my best friends.
NP: Did it go how you expected? Was it the first time you had an event of that sort?
SH: It was much bigger than I had expected, but I tried to have very few expectations for it. I just wanted to let it happen. In April of 2014 I had a meet and greet at the Grove here in Los Angeles, and I think about ten girls showed up, but so much has changed and evolved over the past year. I’m hosting another meet and greet in July in partnership with LookMazing.com and I can’t wait!
NP: What sets your channel apart from others?
SH: Definitely the honesty. I’m not saying that other YouTubers are liars. I’ve met probably hundreds of them and they are some of the nicest people I know, but a lot of media today is so filtered – I don’t want to be like that. If I embarrass myself then I embrace that because it will actually help the people who watch me be able to accept themselves as they are. I show them my flaws and it makes both the viewers and myself less insecure about them.
NP: If you had to describe this channel in three words, what would they be?
NP: What do you like most about being an influential YouTube star? What do you like the least?
SH: I think my favorite part is knowing the amount of people I can help. When I’m having a bad day I’ll just go online and reply to comments and helping other people can really heal whatever wounds you have… and sometimes just admitting that you’ve been hurt is exactly what will help others. The part that I like the least? That’s really hard because I love what I do so much. I guess lack of sleep? Loving what you do means you’re never finished and therefore, never want to go to bed.
NP: Was there any apprehension when it came to starting the channel, like when it came to the possibility of others judging you or people at school watching the videos and learning personal things about you?
SH: Being that I was only twelve when I started making videos, I wasn’t aware of the amount of hate that I would get on videos from both strangers and people that I went to middle school with. It didn’t even cross my mind and I’m really happy about that because if I’d known about that then I might never have started the channel. Once I started talking about more serious topics and opening up more, I knew that people at school would watch and that some would mock it, but the amount of positive things people say and the amount of people that these videos help greatly outweighs the bad. I also can’t stress enough how positive and supportive most everyone from school is. It hasn’t always been like that for me, and I appreciate it more than I think people realize.
To watch Saphira’s videos, click below: