Jazzy Anne on Growing Up on the Internet
January 15, 2022 / Gabriel Schulze
Child-star-turned-YouTuber talks finding peace, content creation, and why she’d rather be known as an artist.
For us Gen Zers, it was always a dream to be YouTube-famous. And who could blame us? We grew up during Youtube’s Golden Age, a 2010s era of vlogs, skits, challenges, and hauls. Some of us tried our hand at starting a channel, even if it was just for fun, hoping to cash out on YouTube’s promise of overnight success. Of course, we didn’t pull it off — but Jazzy Anne did.
Jazzy was raised on the internet. At the height of her fame, she had 7 million subscribers — more than the population of 38 states. She was 15. At that point, she was already in the middle of her career. I was unaware of this; To me, she was just the bright, cheerful girl sitting in the front row I wanted to be friends with. I didn't know her story of childhood stardom. When she’s recognized when we’re out, most of her fans have been watching her since she was a child. She interacts with people who’ve seen her grow and change right in front of them, while she only knows them in the present.
Having grown up on YouTube, Jazzy bears the mortifying ordeal of being known. As now a friend of hers, I believe she handles this pressure quite well. Despite her tendency to overthink, she makes efforts to ground herself by (openly) talking through her problems with friends, practicing gratitude, and simply going outside. In especially stressful times, she'll repeat an affirming mantra to herself: I know I'll be OK. More so than anyone I know, she loves deeply, and her audience is no exception. But as her identity changes, she has to come to terms with other people’s expectations for her. I sat down with Jazzy over coffee to discuss how she’s dealt with her shifting public image on YouTube and her hopes for the future, both online and in real life.
On Jazzy the Child Star
SM: So Jazzy, how long have you been on YouTube?
JA: I’ve been on YouTube for about 9-10 years, it’s been a long time — half my life. I started just at the end of fifth grade when I was 10, and then it got pretty serious around seventh grade. I’ve been continuing it, I’m still doing it now!
SM: Why did you become a YouTuber? How did that happen?
JA: My brothers Jordan, Joshua, and I all were like ,“Ok, we’re gonna make a channel together — all three of us — it’ll be really cool!” So we made one video, and then we were like “Ok, we don’t have time for this,” so we stopped. But then I saw that a channel called Seven Super Girls (SSG) was hosting auditions, it was this collab channel where girls got to make skits for little kids, and it was a big deal to be a part of. So, I auditioned, and I got to be a part of it! That was what initially started my “YouTube career.”
On Jazzy the Brand
SM: What would you say your personal brand is on YouTube? How has that changed?
JA: My brand has changed a lot. When I was making skits, my brand was very much “Seven Super Girl,” very wholesome vibes — always portraying this really innocent, young, perfect version of how a young girl should be like. Then, I left SSG, and I struggled with separating myself from the SSG identity. My brand was still very much skit-like and performative, like “entertainment,” especially in high school. But recently, my brand has become more of discovering who I really am, apart from my YouTube personality. My videos are becoming more natural, less performative. If you are a YouTube personality, then your personality is your brand. I am the content. I want my brand to continue to go along this natural route. I have some big dreams outside of YouTube. I would love for it to be the “Behind the Scenes” of what’s going on in my life. I am a YouTuber, but I don’t want to be known as a social media influencer or YouTuber. I would rather be known as an artist. That’s a big distinction. Right now, I feel confident going forward and being myself since I’ve had practice with this tug-of-war thing going on. But that wasn't always the case. In high school, I was so annoyed that people would constantly be like “I remember you from SSG! OMG!” It seemed like that was all people were associating me with. But I’m no longer bothered by that. Now it’s bittersweet because that was what got me started.
SM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
JA: Five years from now, I would love to be creating a TV show or a movie. I just know that I don’t want to do YouTube forever. I do not necessarily know what path I want to go in because I also have these aspirations to write music and possibly model. It’s a little complicated because I don’t want to lose my social media presence, but I also just don’t realistically see myself in five years still wanting to make the type of videos I am making right now. I’m really hoping something else will be presented to me because I still want to create something.
On Jazzy the Content Creator
SM: We hear a lot of talk about being real on the internet. How do you engage with authenticity?
JA: On SSG, things felt authentic for a very long time. I wasn’t worried about so many people watching me since nobody really had expectations for me. I was new to this. That eventually started to change throughout eighth grade because I started to disconnect from SSG. I was growing up, and I was still making these videos for children, these kind of embarrassing skits for a 13-year-old to be making. I felt like I had to stay on it.
When I finally quit, I got that creative freedom back, and that authenticity returned because I was having fun again. But as my independent channel started to get a lot of traction and people were expecting more from me, I kind of got a grasp of, “Okay, this is the kind of video that does well.” Naturally, my videos turned into more of a performance, rather than something I genuinely wanted to make. I really started to understand that this was something I could take seriously because people expected a lot from me, and I let those expectations get to me. That’s when I was no longer making videos I was happy with. It wasn’t even the fact that they’re bad videos, but I felt obligated to do them because I knew it would do well.
SM: Was there ever a moment when you felt your content wasn’t reflective of who you are?
JA: Yes, definitely — my entire freshman year of college. I know some people really enjoyed my videos at that time, but freshman year of college was a wake-up call for me. I realized I didn’t really know what my identity was outside of YouTube because I had literally grown up on YouTube and people have been watching and perceiving me since fifth grade, which is damaging. So, I had an identity crisis, and it bled into my videos because I am my content, yet I didn’t know who I was. I used to get so many comments all the time saying “You’ve changed,” as if it was a bad thing? But now I feel like they resonate with me. I just had to learn to be really appreciative of the people who are watching me for who I am right now, for what I am posting in that moment, and that means a lot.
On The Real Jazzy
SM: Okay, lastly: Who is Jazzy? If somebody had to know who you were, what would you say?
JA: Who is Jazzy? Who am I? [laughs] I am interested in everything. I am a very creatively-driven person, but I am also driven by love. If I want something to happen, I'm going to make it happen. I have a lot of trust in the world. Throughout my YouTube career, it’s been really, really refreshing to make content and hear someone say, “You just made my day,” from me being stupid! I love making something and knowing that it matters to somebody. I am very at peace most days now, which is different. I’m not on edge all the time anymore. That might change over time, but I’ll find my peace again. ■
by: Gabriel Schulze
photographer: Alyssa Olvera
stylist: Noelle Campos
hmua: Leila Williams