You inspired so many people by coming out on YouTube. I feel like, especially in the last year, there have been a lot of heartfelt coming-out videos online—and you were one of the first people to do that.
I had actually never seen anyone come out as transgender before on YouTube. When I did it, I remember typing “coming out transgender video” in the search box and there was nothing. There were transgender journeys, and male-to-female pictures, but there was never a sit-down “I am transgender” video. I was even more nervous because I knew there would be so much attention on it, and I didn’t know how people were going to react. But people were really, really nice. I remember crying the night that I uploaded it, because there were so many likes and no one was hating on it—it was all positive comments, which is so rare to find on the Internet.
How did you go from filming YouTube videos in your room in Toronto to becoming an Internet celebrity?
I started doing YouTube videos in a very real, raw way. I didn’t do it for the money. I didn’t do it for, well, maybe I did it a little bit for the attention [laughs]—but I mostly did it because I was in a Catholic high school every day with a uniform on, and I wanted a different way to express myself. I started uploading makeup videos, then did a little reality show with my friends, and it all just snowballed from there. Stuff just happened for me—the stars aligned. I’m here now and I’m still passionate, and I still love it. I’ve always said that everything that’s fake eventually dies, and this has never been fake for me.
Do you think you’ll continue to make videos for the rest of your career?
I think I’ll always be on YouTube, but of course I want to break through to the “mainstream”—that’s my big goal. I want to do everything, I really do. I think I could host, I think I could act. I definitely want to go down the product route and create my own makeup line, my own clothing line, and my own fragrance. But at the end of the day, I just want to leave my footprint for transgender people and the LGBTQ community, and really try to help people.
What are your feelings on the trans community’s increased visibility in pop culture with TV shows like Transparent and Orange Is the New Black? How do you hope to contribute?
Every single day I try to do something because I’ve learned that life is too short and it can be taken away from you in a split second. It’s funny because I was just doing a collaboration video with Todrick Hall and I asked him to help me put together a list of questions about being transgender versus being gay and black. I think transgender people have a more positive reputation in the media now than ever, but it’s still not there. I think it’s amazing that everyone is noticing that there are transgender people among us in the world, and it is a normal thing, but I don’t think we’re there just yet. It’s going to take all of us to fight and make it happen.