Rachel Levin: A YouTuber With A Positive Message
In the days of YouTubers poking dead bodies, it’s nice to see a creator with a positive message. Rachel Levin is a beauty influencer known for her YouTube channel, RCLBeauty101. With 2.6 billion views (yes, you read that right) on her channel, she’s one of the most popular YouTubers on the planet.
What attracted me most to Rachel was a video I saw where she addressed online bullying. It was one of the most effective PSAs that I’ve ever seen. She’s also posted about mental health issues, body shaming and other issues affecting young people.
She’s relatable, funny, and has a wholesome image that’s attractive to brands. You’re not going to find her involved in any YouTube drama or see half-naked pictures of her on Instagram.
With YouTubers, like Logan Paul, trying to be more extreme and controversial every day; it’s refreshing to see someone like Rachel Levin.
Tom Ward: I was watching your videos last night and what’s really incredible is the Princess Pool Video which, correct me if I’m wrong, has 250 million views.
Rachel Levin: Yeah! It’s got a lot.
Ward: I did some homework last night and Brazil is the fifth most populated country in the world and it has about 200 million people. So, that’s kind of like where you’re at. If all the viewers of the video were a country, you’d be like number four in the world. What’s it like getting that many views and engagement?
Levin: I normally try not to look at how many people it is because I don’t want to get cocky. (Laughs.) I want to be more humbled and honored by it. But I try not to be like, “Yeah. The whole country of Brazil just watched my video.” (Laughs.)
Ward: When did this become your career?
Levin: It kind of became my career before it actually became my career. I know that sounds really weird. I was talking to my guidance counselor at school about jobs. She was like, “OK Rachel what do you want to do?” And I’m like, “I really want to do film.” She said, “That’s great, you can be someone that films movies.” And I was like, “Well I want to film but I aIso want to edit.” So, she said, “OK. So a like a film editor.” And I’m like, “Yeah but I also want to produce it.” So she said, “OK, so like a film editor/producer.” I’m like, “But also write it.” And she said, “So a writer, director, producer.” But then I said, “But I want to act in it!” So she said, “OK. Like YouTube.” And I said, “Yes!” And she’s like, “I’m sorry Rachel, that’s not a career. You can’t do YouTube.”
Ward: Were you doing YouTube in high school?
Levin: Yeah, I started when I was 15.
Ward: So were you a big deal in high school because of that.
Levin: Oh no. People bullied me because of that.
Ward: How big were you in high school, subscriber wise?
Levin: I graduated with 100,000 subscribers.
Ward: So you had the most subscribers and the biggest social media following in your high school class.
Ward: So, wasn’t that a cool thing?
Levin: Here’s the thing. When I was 15 and they found out about my YouTube...picture Mean Girls, when she walked into school and everyone stared at her. That’s what happened when they all found out about YouTube.
Ward: You kept it quiet?
Levin: Oh my God. I kept it a secret because I knew the people at my school would have been mean about it. Because when you’re putting all of your all in something, you don’t want to expose it to people that would be mean; which is so crazy because you’re exposing yourself to the Internet, but when it comes to your personal life you want to keep it separate. And then one girl found it and she sent it to one of the mean girls. And the mean girls sent it around the school to everybody. And I’d be walking down the hall and people would be like, “Hey Rachel. Do you want to make me a YouTube video?” And they’d laugh about it. And I’d be sitting in class and I’d hear two girls behind me talking about it and laughing at it. But not laughing at it (her channel) because I didn’t make comedy videos at the time, so I knew they weren’t laughing because they thought it was funny. So everyone was just really mean about it. So by the time senior year rolled around, and I had 100,000 subscribers, then those mean girls were like, “Hey Rachel can I have a shout out on Instagram?” I was like, “You lost that opportunity back in the day when you told me to delete my channel.”
Ward: I was doing my homework and watching videos for this and I saw the one video, and it reminded me of the picture you were painting; where you’re walking down the hallway and then the trolls of the Internet were saying the mean things to your face. Talk about that video.
Levin: I actually never made that connection before that that was like a similar situation, which is crazy. I feel like a lot of people get lost when it comes to the Internet. Like, “I can say whatever I want. I can respond to this tweet and say something super messed up because they’re not people.”
Ward: She’s a real person. (Laughs.) I swear.
Levin: I am look, my skin stretches, I have hairy arms. I am a normal person. (Laughs.) But there will be people that attack people that have like ten followers on Twitter, and aren’t social media influencers, and will feel the need to tell them to kill themselves. Or that their mother should have aborted them.
Ward: You said someone actually said that to you.
Levin: In that video, it was basically me walking down the hallway and people saying really messed up things to me. Every single thing that they said to me in that video, they’ve said to me online. I would never say something messed up to someone in real life, and I really don’t think most people on the Internet would either. I mean, there’s always going to be mean things said to me on the Internet, but the point of the video was for my audience, to the people who were going to be mean to them, maybe they’ll think twice about it.
Ward: I was sitting down with Lele Pons, and she’s in a similar space to you, and I asked her the same question I’m going to ask you. What do your late 20s look like for you because you can’t play that relatable high school girl character forever.
Levin: Well, I can’t even play that high school girl next year. (Laughs.) I can’t do any more back to school videos anymore. (Laughs.) Maybe college. Hopefully I’ll be running a business, that I can’t talk about right now. I’ll also have another career path that I’ll tell you guys in a couple of months. (Laughs.) I’ve got so much going on that I can’t talk about! (Laughs.)
Ward: I think part of your success is that you’ve been adaptable. You haven’t been one thing. When you look back to when you started, seven years ago, you were doing totally different content. I think in 2018 we’re going to see even more different things from you.
Levin: I actually like to be the one who pushes, not the industry, but the YouTube game in different directions.
Ward: What do you mean?
Levin: Like when I did comedy, there were like a ton of beauty gurus and lifestyle people who never did comedy. But the fact that I did comedy; I think that was a way to inspire them to do comedy. Now, every time you see a beauty guru, you see them doing comedy sketches.
Rachel then had to head to the airport for a midnight flight, from LA to Philadelphia, to get home. She just flew into LA in the morning to meet with her management and do this Forbes interview.
I wonder what those mean girls are up to.