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YouTuber Not Even Emily Opens Up About Identity and Balancing Social Media with Career

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Not Even Emily has expanded her hilarity far beyond her Vine roots, building a loyal YouTube following of over 300k subscribers. While working hard on growing her channel, Emily is just as intent on pursuing a career in nursing and often has to juggle video creation with (crying over) exams. She takes great pride in being an Asian American creator and strives to make her content as inclusive of as many identities as possible. Her ultimate goal is to make a name for herself in film and television to be able to tell rich, complex narratives that resonate with marginalized folks. Follow Emily on Instagram and Twitter!
Cliché: What was your motivation behind starting a YouTube channel?

Ever since I was young I wanted to be an actress, or at least involved with TV/film in some way. I feel like youtube was my way of trying to fuel that passion of mine without completely pursuing it as a career, because I was afraid of disappointing my parents (just asian things <3). I am still in college for healthcare, but I don’t have to give up my passion for acting and writing completely because I have my youtube channel! I just love to create and entertain people. Although it seems cliche to say, I do believe it is what I was born to do.

In addition to growing your social media platforms and expanding your content, you also work in healthcare! How do you balance the two? 

During the school year I am typically busy with studying, stressing out, crying in the library, etc; so during my breaks I film a bunch of videos at once (usually 10-15) and I will schedule those videos to be released throughout the year when I am at school. So essentially I film in bulk to make time for my nursing studies during the semester! 

Has COVID changed how you perceive your profession?

I feel that I have always perceived the profession of nursing to be a vital part of healthcare, I feel that the COVID situation has only emphasized that point. I do take care of COVID positive patients, so sometimes I get a bit worried about being exposed and then exposing others. I haven’t experienced anything like this pandemic in my lifetime, so sometimes it can feel overwhelming. When I’m at work, I just try not to think about it too much and focus on taking care of my patients and taking the right precautions when necessary. 

YouTube is a very white, male dominated space. What does it mean to you to have achieved this platform as a creator of color? How can we better support creators of color?

Having my platform as a creator of color has really meant the world to me. The fact that people find my content entertaining enough to subscribe is so surreal when I think about it too hard. I get messages from other asian individuals saying that seeing my videos has inspired them to make their own, or that seeing me on their screen makes them feel more represented. To be that person for someone is absolutely incredible, because that is something I would have wanted when I was younger. Asian representation (and POC representation in general) means a lot to me, as an aspiring actor and as a social media creator. 

When it comes to supporting creators of color, I think it would be great if YouTube could promote these creators more consistently. I know that they do certain things for black history month and such, but it would be great if we could get these efforts all year round instead. Also, other media outlets could interview or make lists of creators of color for promotion and support. 

You’re very proud of being an Asian American creator. How does your identity influence your creative perspective?

Yes! I am very proud of being an Asian American creator, and I feel that when I write the scripts for my videos I try to be as inclusive as possible towards all orientations, races, and genders. I think that being a minority has increased my awareness of these things, so when I make content I try to keep in mind that I have a diverse audience. I’m very big on diversity and inclusiveness. At the same time I believe that the subject matter of my videos isn’t usually geared around my asianess, but more around things concerning mainstream media and everyday experiences that most people can relate to, no matter their race!

Do you have any advice for other Asian American creators out there?

DON’T GIVE UP! I know it can be really difficult to gain traction on a platform like YouTube, but if you enjoy creating I really think it’s worthwhile to make content even if you don’t think a lot of people are watching.  Nowadays, everyone can use an online video downloader to save clips for watching them offline, but most people still prefer using streaming platforms, so make sure to provide them with content that will grab their attention. It feels good just to make something! Also, never post anything that you don’t think is funny, or that you don’t like. I know some creators make content that will get them the most views despite quality, which is completely valid, but something I care about a lot is making content that I am proud of, even if it doesn’t get as many views. 


Why do you eventually want to switch over to film and TV?

As I mentioned before, I do feel like entertaining is something that I was born to do. Nursing is a wonderful and fulfilling profession and I definitely enjoy it, but deep down I know that my heart is always going to be pulled towards creating. I want to be able to give more Asian representation in mainstream media and tell stories that inspire people and make them feel something. I used to think that being successful in entertainment was impossible for me, but with my YouTube channel growing and the increasing Asian representation in Hollywood, I’m starting to think that I shouldn’t give up on that dream! One of my greatest concerns in life is wondering, “what if?” or wasting my potential. 

Who are your role models in the industry? Is there anyone you think deserves more recognition?

I am a fan of Alice Wu, she is the director of Saving Face and The Half of It. I’m also a fan of Lulu Wang, the director of The Farewell, and I’m looking forward to her future work! I do believe she is someone who deserves more recognition. Also, Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite and Snowpiercer are amazing pieces of work. Parasite amazed me so much, I was speechless when I first saw it and my heart was soaring! So much talent in one film. 

What kinds of roles would you want to create/play or what kind of narratives would you want to tell?

Quite honestly, I really want to be in at least one movie or TV show in my life, so I am very open to all roles and certainly wouldn’t be picky. If I could pick, I would be more interested in a dramatic role. Comedy comes more naturally to me, but I think that’s why I would want a dramatic role to challenge myself and display some range. I want to tell stories that offer more representation of all demographics that have a lack thereof. Women, LGBT, POC, etc. I want more movies like the Joy Luck Club or Crazy Rich Asians, where the characters are going through conflicts that may resonate with all people. Stories that have Asian characters outside of the stereotypes, emphasizing that minorities can tell complex stories and still move the general audience. 

Are you hoping to alter the media landscape in any way in terms of representation of the Asian American community?

Of course I want to do as much as I can for Asian representation, but I think altering the media landscape would have to be a group effort in addition to my personal endeavors. I think this alteration has already started to occur, with Parasite winning best picture, Crazy Rich Asians being a blockbuster hit, and Shang-Chi soon getting his MCU debut. I think that Hollywood and movie companies are realizing that stories outside of the white perspective are still profitable, and I’m trying my best to support these projects and hopefully one day be participating in one. 

What are you looking forward to over the next few months?

Over the next few months, I am mainly going to be focused on my YouTube channel and my studies as a nurse. I have a job as a nurse extern at the moment, so I will be focusing on taking care of my patients until I take the NCLEX next year and become a registered nurse. I do have an acting opportunity coming up, as well as an acting class I will be taking at my college, which I am super excited for! For me, a summary for the next few months is essentially: YouTube, school/nursing, and hopefully an acting opportunity if everything goes well. 

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YouTuber Not Even Emily Opens Up About Identity and Balancing Social Media with Career. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Not Even Emily.