Her ascent—including a new show on YouTube Red—suggests the platform have the right to still elevate diverse, an innovative voices who actually desire to do the people a better place.

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After Logan Paul uploaded his infamous “suicide forest” video, which portrayed a corpse in close-up and in sensationalized tones, a pained answer from one of his other vloggers epitomized the backlash. “Dear
LoganPaul,” Anna Akana composed in a tweet that would be excerpted by YouTube in the company’s official reply come Paul, “When my brother found my sister’s body , the screamed v horror & man & grief & do the efforts to conserve her. That body was a human being someone loved. You perform not walk right into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness.” Akana, who sister Kristina eliminated herself at age 13, 11 year ago, called me freshly that she chose to speak up partly because she discovered Paul’s early stage apology to it is in “very half-assed and also not genuine,” and also partly due to the fact that she “didn’t desire anyone come misinterpret what he to be doing.


“A most his fans were saying, ‘Well, the didn’t know that person, therefore it to be OK come zoom in on the body,’ ” Akana told me. “I disagree.”

Dear
LoganPaul,When mine brother discovered my sister’s body, the screamed through horror & confusion & grief & make the efforts to save her. That body to be a person someone loved.You carry out not walk right into a suicide woodland with a camera and claim mental wellness awareness.

— Anna Akana (

Akana represents the diametric opposite of the youth jackassery that lots of human being now associate v YouTube vlogging. At 28, she the quirky yet wise huge sister numerous of YouTube’s younger users indeed crave—a duty that’s earned her 2 million subscribers and 180 million views due to the fact that 2011. (Heck, ns a few years older than Akana, and even ns look in ~ her favor an enlarge sibling.) she’s aspirationally polished, dorkily funny, wondrously confident, sometimes raw, and won’t close up door up about her six cats. In ~ the intersection the teen-friendly explainers and feminist, oriental American, and also anti-suicide activism, Akana’s most famous videos incorporate “Why Girls should Ask men Out,” “The One Question men Fear,” “Why males Like oriental Girls,” “Am i White Washed?,” “I’m going on Antidepressants” and also “Please Don’t death Yourself,” in which she talks poignantly around how she sister’s suicide irreparably readjusted her. Akana’s willingness to tackle such a challenging and an individual subject come at a time once teen suicide prices are top top the rise. Without being unduly cynical, it’s not hard to check out why YouTube would want to promote the actress-comedian-filmmaker-author as among the faces of that next large step: original programming.


Premiering in its entirety on Wednesday, Akana’s half-hour YouTube Red teenager dramedy, Youth & Consequences, feels like specifically the right move for a wake up YouTube personality v grander imaginative ambitions. The very first episode feels prefer a retread of Mean Girls and also Gossip Girl, tinged with few of the darkness of Veronica Mars, but it conveniently shows it’s to be updated in smart ways for today’s online cultures. Produced by Jason Ubaldi, who Akana described as a “17-year-old girl grounding in the body of a 50-year-old man,” the eight-part debut season starts with the college guidance counselor discovered dead in his office and, separately, an brewing election for student body president. Akana’s snotty hottie Farrah, v the assist of one anonymous school blogger (who runs a distinct Drudge Report–looking site), privately controls what news about the counselor and the candidates the various other students see. Under Farrah’s reign, main Rochester High is a an ext equitable location to be; because that example, she chooses no to publicize criminal details around the indict counselor to preventive his family. But not anyone appreciates a benevolent dictator, particularly when they uncover they’ve to be made into a puppet. (The idea the weaponized wokeness have to resonate v anyone that has ever been ~ above the internet.) Akana wishes that viewers won’t mistake she for Farrah, but grants that she shares through her character a “natural alpha vibe.”


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For Akana, Youth & aftermath has to be a reminder the the stark differences between the traditional and digital entertainment industries and an opportunity to put her diversity principles into exercise while thematically exploring how facets of she YouTube persona might play out in genuine life. The minimal-at-best possibility of her headlining her own show on a standard network isn’t shed on the Los Angeles–based YouTube star, that sees herself as “definitely external of” Hollywood, despite minor roles in Ant-Man, Hello, My surname is Doris, and MTV’s Awkward. In comparison to timeless TV, she claimed the video clip platform’s attitude toward its series development has actually been, “You recognize your audience. You know the creative vision that you want to tell. We space just below to assistance that”—a an ext relaxed programming technique that numerous Netflix and Amazon showrunners have also reported. That “support,” Akana’s said, has “traditional marketing” and also “traditional money.”


YouTube, Akana said, values Youth & Consequences’ racial inclusivity, such as three of the 4 Mean girl played through girls and women the color. (Scheduled for a might premiere is an additional Asian American–led YouTube Red series, Liza ~ above Demand, starring Indian American Viner–turned-YouTuber Liza Koshy.) That’s simply the platform honoring that roots, Akana said: “When YouTube first started, its key stars were eastern American. It was Ryan Higa, Natalie Tran , Michelle Phan.” early YouTube’s deep eastern American bench also included Tim Delaghetto, KevJumba, the Fung Bros, David So, and also Asian American–centric Wong Fu Productions. Mirroring on YouTube then and also still now, Akana said, “I think it’s since we never ever saw ourselves represented everywhere else mainstream, and YouTube is ultimately an opportunity to view someone who looks prefer you doing either comedy or lifestyle.” She spicy to researches that display that eastern Americans spend an ext time digital than any other gyeongju or ethnic group. “I love the it’s type of shown classic the there is a hunger here,” she said. Still, “there’s no method I would have been able to play Farrah and also a lead—not just a command character, yet someone as complex as Farrah, wherein race has actually nothing to perform with —unless it to be a platform prefer YouTube.”


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Akana’s optimism about digital entertainment seems well-founded. Her internet videos provided her manage over her self-presentation during her early on years law stand-up, when she would endure panic attacks before she sets. (She chose to seek comedy in earnest approximately age 19, when a Margaret Cho TV one-of-a-kind made she laugh for the very first time because her sister’s suicide.) Akana’s wide sketch sensibilities, linked with her apparent desire to help make others feel better, have uncovered a niche on a platform that hardly existed a decade ago. A an excellent example is the PSA-y “How to placed on her Face,” a beauty video that doubles as confidence-boosting self-help by pairing assembly tips v self-care advice. As soon as she’s no uploading her weekly videos—usually made with a team of 3 in her home—she’s dabbling in book-writing, podcasting, and also filmmaking. Throwing things at the wall to check out what sticks, the seems, never ends for digital celebs who are still guessing what the future of their ar will watch like. Probably it looks choose YouTube Red.

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For the part, YouTube more than likely shouldn’t be confused for a benevolent dictator either: Logan Paul was involved in lot of YouTube Red projects, too, before a sequel to one of his movies and also his character on a comedy collection were ditched after ~ the “suicide forest” video. And also yet the company clearly isn’t just adhering to the numbers; there are scads that vloggers with greater stats of basically every type than Akana. Two episodes in, I’m an extremely interested in wherein Youth & Consequences will go, yet its platform renders it difficult to imagine the present breaking through, particularly with a fairly unknown command performer. In ~ the really least, ns now convinced that at the very least some the the time, YouTube is follow a top quality that no (yet) algorithmable: star power.