January 26, 2015

Interviewing The Amazing Grace Helbig

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My eyes can hardly stay open as I type this so thankfully for us both I’m keeping this post short and sweet. Last week I interviewed the awesome Grace Helbig, the hilariously brilliant YouTuber/vlogger of It’s Grace fame who is also a TV host and recently turned author. Grace’s book (called Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending To Be A Grown-up) is a funny self-help manual or 20-something sassy millenials who are still figuring stuff out.

The nice thing is that Grace is also figuring stuff out and sharing her best pieces of advice with us along the way, earning her the title of “the awkward big sister of the Internet”.

In the book she chats about all sorts of things, it’s a fun mish-mash of topics. She touches on stuff like how to survive in this “digital age” (SO relevant) to job interviews, one night stands, moving house, all sorts. She’s not trying to give people the answers, she is just giving her humorous yet brilliant advice based on her own experiences in a way that enables the reader to apply it to their own lives/situations. And let’s be honest: she is NAILING IT, so I’m happy to take any of her life advice. Sign me up. I’ll have five copies please.

Grace Helbig is so cool it’s untrue. She is sassy, hilarious, but incredibly down-to-earth and doesn’t bother with trying to curate her life into looking ‘perfect’.

Her videos aren’t about beauty products, her shiny wardrobe, or perfect Pinterest-esque interior furnishings; instead she burps, farts and curses on screen with unwashed hair. But it’s worth mentioning that even with greasy hair she never looks bad. Growing up with brothers, Grace admits she isn’t typically ‘girly’ yet she’s becoming a real role model for millenial girls who are just still figuring it out.

In her new book Grace’s Guide – The Art Of Being A Grown-Up which launches in the UK this week, she doesn’t claim to have all the answers, she’s just giving her own advice. The book isn’t twee, or for young tweens like Zoella and Alfie’s fanbase. This book speaks to anyone between the ages of 13-29, mixed with fun lighted advice (the importance of wearing deodarant) and more serious topics like the walk of shame, job interviews to decorating the first home you move into without your parents. Bascially, it’s the sort of thing she ‘wished she’d had herself growing up.’

So here’s what we chatted about when we caught up with this the Internet sensation herself:

You’re the awkward big sister of the Internet. So who was your awkward big sister?

Grace Helbig: I definitely got inspired a lot by the Tina Fey’s, Amy Poehler’s, Mindy Kaling types. Also I did a lot of improv comedy in New York City, and there are a lot of really strong females in the improv comedy world. Ellie Kemper, I  idolise, she’s going to be on a show that Tina Fey is making. So, finding people like that in the community is important. I’m the only girl in a family of brothers so femininity wasn’t in the water when I was growing up.

We love your book Grace’s Guide. Self-help books seem to be on the rise…

Grace: Yeah, I think they’re really helpful, because for me not necessarily taking the advice word for word but re-interpreting it for myself. So I really wanted the book to be openly admitting that it didn’t have the correct answers for every person, but here are things that worked for me. Take them as you will in any way you want. And the biggest measure of success for me since the book has come out has been people, posting you know certain parts of the book that really affected them, really resonated with them. That’s what I look for and so the audience is, like, they’re all my friends, and I don’t want to give my friends bad advice. That’s not a good friend.

We read in the New York Times, that you were the ‘new female face of late night television’. That’s pretty cool.

Grace: Yeah, there’s been a lot of comparison to Chelsea Handler, because Chelsea was on E! and she left, and I’m a huge Chelsea Handler fan. I think she does a very different style of comedy than I do, it’s really hard for me to be mean in my comedy, I’ve realised that’s not something that I want to do but she does it so well, and there’s something so intimidatingly wonderful about it. It is interesting now people are comparing Chelsea and I, well we’re both women, yes, she did a show, and I’m doing a show, so? What else?

 

You must get asked alot ‘are you like Jenna Marbles?’

Grace: Yeah, it’s interesting because since I’ve been trying to do comedy that’s one of the number one question, ‘what’s it like being a female in comedy’? I think comedy comes from your point of view on the world and whether people can relate to it or not and my point of view does have this to skew to a feminine point of view because I am a lady. So I can talk about a period in a different way than a man can talk about a period. I don’t want to talk about a periods because I think that feels really cheap to do as a woman but I consider myself a human being in comedy and a human being with a late night talk show, so that’s how I’m going to continue to think about it, because it’s just seems like extra over-analyzing to put it in to a gender category, because it feels limiting.

You have over 2 million subscribers on YouTube. How do you deal with the odd mean comment?

It’s so insanely hard to completely ignore it, and I would say next to impossible. Our brains remember pain so much easier than nice things. But you have to remind yourself that the people that really matter are the people that are putting the positive energy in to your world that’s the only way you’re going to move forward. I have to laugh at them, because it takes so much extra energy to be a negative person than a positive one, and also why? Life is so hard and complicated for all of us, why try and make it more complicated? And once you start thinking about and realising the negativity comes from a place of like, pain or unresolved fear or anger in another person, you start to have compassion or sympathy for another person.

You create content for YouTube, a podcast, TV and now you’ve written a book. Which one do you enjoy the best?

Grace: I don’t think there’s one that I enjoy more than others, I enjoy creating, or being creative on any level, period. Writing the book was a muscle I hadn’t used for a long time, I was making videos for so long and the physicality of just sitting down and writing with a pen and a piece of paper felt like ‘Oh this is an old buddy I hadn’t seen in a while’ and that part was really great to get back into that just, the simple act of writing was really nice, yeah it was just like dusting off an old activity, or like a musical instrument that someone hadn’t played in a while.

You don’t show too much of your personal life on screen – is that a conscious decision?

Grace: When I was pitching this booking around I made it very clear that it wasn’t going to be a memoir, I didn’t want to write a story of my life, but I did want to put some personal moments in there so it was relatable, so I know for myself I’m happiest with my content when I’m balanced. I’m a really private person in my day-to-day life. The greatest part about my audience that has been cultivated is that they’re so respectful of that. That’s a question that I’d actually be really interested to find out from Zoella, because they vlog so much of their lives and it’s like do you feel the constant pressure to have to? Because that’s one thing that makes her so relatable is her open conversations about her anxiety and that’s a good thing, but once you start a public conversation do you have to continue it? That stresses me out.

What’s your opinion on haul videos?

Grace: I remember when some one told me what a haul video was I was like “shut the fuck up that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard about, it’s girl showing you stuff they bought?” and I went home and I watched like 3 hours of them.

So, it’s the first month of year. How do you think 2015 is going to play out on YouTube?

Grace: To be honest, I feel like I’m a bystander with everyone else this year, I really do think this year is going to be really interesting from the digital space, there’s a lot of things happening there’s a lot of people that are working on endeavors outside of YouTube so I’m interested to see what happens. For myself, I know that my goal is to, with the television show is to of course maintain the YouTube and the platform, I know the public announcement of the television show, a lot of people where like what’s going to change with your YouTube?! And I’m like absolutely nothing! They can work together in some sort of semiotic wonderful dance.

What’s different about it now from when you first started?

Grace: Well the space is so saturated, and people now have goals and intentions of getting notice through YouTube, it’s an interesting time, I feel so happy to have started making my videos when I did. I were to start right now I would be so overwhelmed. There’s pressure and there’s so many way to do it now, there’s a lot of, there’s so many things that have been done that it’s hard to separate yourself as a unique individual without seeing like you’re coping someone, or stealing someone else’s ideas or, it’s tough.

It seems to be all about numbers of followers now.

Grace: Yeah, to me if I think too much about it or if I look at my analytics for too long, I’ll go crazy. I have to remind myself that that’s not what it’s about. I heard something the other day from my friend who’s developing an App, he was researching with high school kids and to figure out the patterns that they use social media. The kids were saying that they post photos on Instagram and if they don’t get a certain number of likes in a certain time then they’ll delete the photo and then try to repost a different one, just to get more likes and that concept alone, made me so sad.

Makes us kinda glad we didn’t have smart phones when we were teenagers.

Grace: Same, same! I’m very happy to be 29 right now at this point in time. Because being in high school with social media… It was already so awkward in high school and social life. I couldn’t maintain a social life in real life, imagine having a social life in real life and online, that’s terrifying. Good luck kids.

You can buy Grace’s book Graces Guide – The Art Of Being A Grown-Up onAmazon.

 

You can read my full interview on The Debrief HERE.

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