JESSII VEE is continuing to push her mission of creating safe spaces for youth online with 2.5 million subscribers on YouTube and a TikTok fanbase of more than 3.5 million followers.
Jessii Vee created her channel to help others who may feel different and have issues fitting in, while addressing important topics such as bullying, anxiety and depression. This also inspired her to create YANA (You Are Not Alone), a platform that encourages people who are feeling lonely, anxious, bullied, and isolated to connect with others.
AC: You’ve amassed millions of followers. Does life feel surreal right now?
JESSII VEE – If I could tell sixteen-year-old Jessii where she’d be today, she wouldn’t believe me. I was incredibly shy when I was growing up due to major anxiety and insecurity. I didn’t have many friends and I stayed clear of any kind of social interaction. I felt like I was trying to go through life unseen.
YouTube really brought me out of my shell and allowed me to be the person that I had always kept hidden, and I couldn’t believe that so many people actually wanted to hear what I had to say. So to say I’m grateful is an understatement – I wouldn’t be where I am today without the amazing, supportive following that I have.
AC: How did you start on TikTok and YouTube?
JESSII VEE – When I was in high school I started a blog on Tumblr and was practically on there 24/7 posting art, photography, and most of all – writing about my day. Because I was so quiet at school, it was a relief to go home and write about everything that was on my mind.
I gained about 30,000 followers after a couple of years and they began to encourage me to start a Youtube channel. They told me that it seemed I had an interesting life in writing and would love to see me tell my stories on video. So I took their advice and started a channel.
I’ve been making YouTube videos for 6 years now and this past fall decided to start on TikTok. I have a passion for researching the strange mysteries of the world and that’s the focus of my content on there.
AC: What do you feel has contributed to your success on TikTok and YouTube?
JESSII VEE – When I started my channel I was telling true stories about my life that I hoped people could relate to. I told my bullying story, my struggles with anxiety, my journey with a Lyme disease, and other experiences that I had growing up. People would express to me that they felt comforted watching my videos because it made them feel like they weren’t alone. And I think that’s what helped my channel grow to what it is now.
AC: How do you typically find inspiration for your videos?
JESSII VEE – The first few years I would look through my old journals and diaries to find a story from my life that I could tell. Some videos were about heartbreak, or embarrassing moments, or the stressful encounters working as a cashier at a craft store. All the inspiration came from my life.
The past couple years I’ve changed the direction of my content a little bit – I feel like as your audience grows you need to evolve with them. I’m very passionate about the strange and unusual things in the world, so my videos focus on the mysterious parts of life.
Tim Burton has always been my favorite director ever since I was a kid so I take a lot of inspiration from him. The spookier something is – the better! A quote I like to tell my subscribers is “Embrace your weird side, because normal is boring”.
AC: Do you have ambitions to use your platform for social impact?
JESSII VEE – Yes! Just over a year ago I started a movement called “YANA” which stands for “You Are Not Alone.” It’s a program that has been implemented in over 50 schools around the world and it’s growing every day. It’s a group of people that come together to be a support system for students that are feeling bullied or isolated in school.
When I was in high school I was picked on for being a “weird kid” and would spend many lunches hiding in a bathroom stall because the anxiety of school was too much for me. So YANA groups are meant to be a safe space where students can go on their lunch breaks, or after school to be surrounded by people who are going through the same struggles. It’s a non-judgemental community ready to support you. I wish I had a group like that when I was growing up.
AC: Since we’re still in the midst of a quarantine, has this time period prompted you to find any new interests or hobbies?
JESSII VEE – I’ve actually been quite busy this past year with all the content that I post to my Youtube channel each week. But staying inside is definitely what encouraged me to start my TikTok channel – I wanted to try something new! And I love it! I’ve also been making jewelry – it’s a relaxing hobby that I used to do a lot when I was a teenager. And now that I’ve got a little bit more time on my hands, I started up again! I call my collection “The Whimsy Wonders” and I post all my creations on Instagram (@thewhimsywonders).
AC: What can fans look forward to in the upcoming year?
JESSII VEE – I’m always coming up with new ideas for exciting content and now that I’ve started on TikTok, there’s going to be so much more to look forward to! Also – when I’m able to, I’d love to travel around the world to visit the different schools that have started YANA groups.
AC: Any future projects you can tell us about?
JESSII VEE – On my main Instagram page (@jessiivee) I’m doing monthly livestreams called “Jess Checking In” where I spread awareness on different topics like anxiety, bullying, mental health, Lyme disease, etc. Each stream I’ll be covering something different and answering a ton of questions – I think it’s a great way for me to actively communicate with my audience and I want it to be a safe place that we can all just talk about our struggles.
AC: What are some of your long term goals as an influencer?
JESSII VEE – As my channel grows I would love to continue to spread awareness about important subjects that people don’t talk about enough. It’s also my ultimate goal for my channel to always be a place that brings a smile to someone’s face – to feel like they have a place to go when days are tough. I’m so excited about what the future holds!
INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES