Gabbie Hanna Turns Her Haters Into Motivators
Gabbie Hanna is a YouTuber, a poet, a writer, a singer, a comedian and an actress; but she’s probably best known for her funny storytelling ability.
Last month she was awarded a Streamy (an award for social media stars) for “Best Storyteller.” When I asked her what makes her such a great storyteller, she said, “I think what makes me good at it is that I’m naturally so dramatic. People always ask, ‘How does all of this crazy stuff happen to you?’ But if you break it down, it’s not really crazy; I’m just dramatic. I did a story about cancelling a gym membership. If that happened to you, you’d just say, ‘The lady was really mean and I had to call corporate.’ But when I tell it, I get overly dramatic about it. That’s what makes it funny.”
She came from extremely humble beginnings and could have never imagined the success she now has. As a kid, her family was sometimes unable to pay the bills. She had to worry about her electricity being turned off. Because of that, she values a dollar and lives well below her means. She pulled up to our interview in a Toyota Corolla, a far cry to the Lambos and Mercedes that many YouTubers flaunt.
“I just don’t care about cars. Maybe if I reach Jeffree Star(a rich YouTuber) status, I’ll get a new Corolla,” Hanna joked.
Hanna first made a name for herself on Vine and achieved rapid success on the platform. During that time she worked at Sam’s Club, selling “Made For TV” products. She quickly became the number one salesperson in the country, but after she discovered it was essentially a pyramid scheme; she left.
Hanna made the transition to YouTube, around this time, despite not even having a computer. She remembered, “I always wanted to be a YouTuber but I couldn’t because I was poor and didn’t have a computer. I also didn’t have the time to make videos, so it wasn’t reasonable to expect it to happen. My first YouTube videos were shot and edited by a friend because I didn’t have the equipment.”
She brought her massive Vine following over to YouTube, which gave her an advantage because she started with large subscriber base. Hanna said, “People ask me for tips and advice on how to start a YouTube channel and I really don’t know. I didn’t start a YouTube channel from scratch. And for anyone that did, like Emma Chamberlainand Shane Dawson, I don’t know how they did it.”
Always evolving, Hanna began a serious music career a couple of years ago. In the DIY spirit of YouTube, she decided to do it herself. She said, “I’m an independent artist and I’m hoping to stay that way. It’s very intentional. I own my own masters and no one can tell me what to do.”
Many YouTube stars have released songs and some have had moderate success because they have a built in fan base. What makes Hanna different is that she releases legitimate music, not just a beef track, and has had downloads and streams that far exceed her following: Her single “Out Loud” has 24 million streams on Spotify and 13 million views on YouTube.
When I asked Hanna what motivates her to take on all of these projects, she said, “I hate to admit this, but a lot of it is trying to prove the haters wrong. It’s like, ‘Make your haters your motivators.’ So when someone tells you that you can’t do something, it makes you want to do it more.
Despite her positive outlook, the negative comments still hurt. She said, “I’m really sensitive, and get upset by hate comments, and probably always will. But I always tell myself that people don’t leave negative comments if they don’t feel bad about themselves. There was this one girl who posted, ‘You’re so full of yourself. How many more pictures of you do we need on Instagram?’ And then I went to her page and it literally her in a bra and underwear in the same bathroom selfie, four times. She was clearly just an insecure girl.”
Studies are finding that excessive social media use can cause certain mental health issues; a topic that Hanna is very aware of. She said, “I actually did a whole video on the psychology of YouTube. When you get immediate attention and reward, your brain actually changes. It’s classical conditioning. Like, ‘I do this and people like me. I do that and people like me.’ And if your numbers start to drop, that affects your self-esteem. You think ‘People like me less now, because I didn’t get as many likes as before.’”
In addition to being open about some of the struggles she faces online, Hanna has been honest about her struggles with body image, anxiety and depression. While many YouTubers use their platforms to only sell products to their fans, she is using her voice to help her audience deal with issues that affect us all.
Gabbie Hanna is someone that can make you laugh, make you cry and most importantly make you think. She’s much more than just another funny YouTuber.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.