YouTube Star Jenn McAllister on Social Media Breaks and Being Shy
Jenn McAllister has pretty much spent her entire life in front of a camera; it's no wonder she's so good at it. She stumbled upon her parents’ OG camcorder when she was eight, started posting YouTube videos at age 12, and now, at 20, boasts nearly 3 million subscribers on her channel (she’s at JennxPenn, but let’s be real: You probably already knew that). When she’s not giving hilarious room tours or showing off every trend of 2016, you can find the LA resident on the YouTube Red comedy series Foursome. But massive online following and jam-packed schedule aside, Jenn’s on-screen presence is only part of what makes her so awesome. Just before the Foursome season two premiere on YouTube Red, the star phoned in to talk about growing up shy, social media breaks, and advice for her teen self.
Let’s go wayyy back—tell us about the earliest videos you ever made.
One day when I was 8 or 9 I found my family’s old video camera in our house; I started playing around with it and became obsessed. I would record a bunch of random stuff, making short little sketches with my friends. In 2008, I came across YouTube with my friend—it was still really new—and we saw that there were other people around the world where people were posting videos. So in 2009 I posted my first-ever video; it was just for fun, since I was literally 12 years old and had no idea what could come from it.
Pretty impressive, especially considering that age 12 is peak awkward stage for most of us.
When I was 12, I had no idea that I was in my awkward stage [laughs]. I thought I was the coolest ever. But my main concern was really that people from my school couldn't see my videos. I never posted anything about it or talked about it; it took people a long time to find out about it. When they did discover it, they were like, “That’s so weird.” Nobody really got it. I was also really shy, so it was strange for me to be posting videos online. They only started thinking it was cool when I started getting more subscribers.
Since you’re shy, is it uncomfortable posting videos to millions of people?
Honestly, no! The me you see in my channel is just me. I feel like when I meet new people I basically act the same, except more reserved. It just takes a little while for me to warm up to new people in real life. Also—it sounds weird because I’m a social media person—but I really don’t like being on my phone all the time. I don’t want to live my whole life behind a camera. I try to live my life and do videos in between, but there are definitely moments where I’m like, “Ah, I need to post.” At this point viewers know who I am, and I just try to be honest about everything that’s going on.
What’s your number one tip that you wish you could go back tell your high school self?
Schoolwork is literally the most important thing that matters in high school. People who might make fun of you—say, for making videos—or who are mean to you, don’t matter. After high school you’ll never see them again. I know it’s hard to realize that since high school is so all-consuming, but I really wish I knew that when I was younger.