Two seniors become YouTube famous


Emily O'Brien

Pictured above is O’Brien’s YouTube video “5 Fall Hairstyles for Short/ Medium Hair,” where she gives a fall hair tutorial.

Abby Ng, Online Editor

Shannon Feng and Emily O’Brien are high school seniors by day and popular YouTubers by night, creating videos for their thousands of subscribers. O’Brien’s channel, EmilyEBeauty, has over 80,000 subscribers, and Feng’s channel, Shazamio, has over 100,000. They both began their channels several years ago, combining hard work with their passions­ — O’Brien’s for makeup and Feng’s for music — to build Internet presences much greater than just the usual hundred or so Instagram followers.

On O’Brien’s channel, she shares everything from how to fishtail braid to what she bought at CVS, all while making her viewers feel like her best friend. And on Feng’s channel, she uses special music composition and notation software to upload sheet music videos of pop songs for aspiring musicians just like her.

According to Feng, YouTube is a unique form of expression that helped her curiosity for music composition grows.

“Shazamio represents the musician I am and relates to how I want to make music a part of my life,” she remarked.

While allowing them to share their interests, YouTube has also connected them with people around the world; O’Brien and Feng discovered online communities they could relate to.

“My favorite part about being a YouTuber is creating content, such as ‘How To’ videos, for people to watch and learn from. I also love reading and responding back to comments on my videos when I upload them,” O’Brien said.

From a distance, running a YouTube channel may seem easy, but as O’Brien and Feng have learned, it requires hours of hard work and the ability to learn and to adapt. YouTube has taught them important life skills that they will carry with throughout their lives.

“I think being a part of YouTube has helped me to mature,” Feng said. “As a YouTuber, it can be very hard to please every subscriber. Sometimes, fans react in a negative way to what you post, and it takes some diplomacy, wisdom, and maturity to not overreact about it.”

Consistency, quality, and teamwork are three more real life takeaways from YouTube that O’Brien has come to appreciate.

“I built up my large following [community] by consistently uploading videos and doing collaborations with other YouTubers around the same amount of subscribers as me,” she reflected.

Both O’Brien and Feng plan on continuing their YouTube channels as they continue on to college. In the future, Feng hopes to create and share her own album, and O’Brien would like to expand her channel and continue working with brands.

For those who dream of having thousands of subscribers and of being Internet famous, Feng has some valuable advice that can be applied not only to YouTube, but also to life, especially as this year’s senior class transitions into a new chapter of their lives and begins their search for successful careers.

With some of the wisdom she has gained from YouTube, Feng said, “What drives a successful YouTube channel is intrinsic motivation, not extrinsic rewards. Do what you love, and do it because you genuinely want to.”