Hundreds of ways to share one’s opinion exist in modern society. Through vlogging and blogging, more people are getting paid to talk. Millions of people are listening, allowing thousands their five minutes of fame — or longer.
Fame was not Cassidy Sharples’ intention. When Sharples, a UVU student from Fresno, California, began her YouTube channel in February 2011, she was just looking for a few new friends. She had recently graduated from high school and moved to Provo, and was having a tough time starting fresh in a new town with new people. She did not expect to gain 60,000 followers and a contract from a YouTube media company with her channel.
Sharples’ inspiration to start her channel, CassJayTuck, came one day after attending class. She saw a classmate reading the same book she was reading, so Sharples tried to begin a conversation. The girl clearly showed disinterest, persuading Sharples to start speaking out.
According to Sharples, she did not know what she was getting herself into. She didn’t know much about YouTube but knew she would be heard.
“I didn’t have any friends, but I love to read and I love to talk,” Sharples said. “I wanted someone to listen, and no one was listening. Truthfully, I didn’t acknowledge the YouTube community’s existence until I started. I liked Word documents, but I wasn’t a big Internet person.”
Sharples’ videos consist mostly of her reviews of books, movies, movie trailers and television shows. Her first video, an eight-minute book review of Catherine Fisher’s “Incarceron,” received more than 10,000 views. Her most popular videos include “The Aftershock” and “How to Read a Book,” both receiving more than 200,000 views.
The fans and the fun
Despite tremendous success and a paid contract with Big Frame, Sharples hasn’t let Internet fame go to her head.
“This might seem bad, but I stopped paying attention to followers,” she said. “Your viewers are important, but you need to do what you feel like doing. If I treat it like something I’m doing for fun, I’ll do my best work. YouTube is fun when you do what you want. I would’ve kept making videos even if I wasn’t getting paid.”
Sharples also acknowledged those who don’t agree with her opinions. She doesn’t let that drag her down.
“You know you’re doing pretty well when you’ve got 10 people who hate your guts,” she said. “I don’t know these people. I’ve never met them. They can gauge a part of my personality, but they don’t know me. You can’t please everyone, but you can be respectful.”
Fortunately, she has more friends than foes. She has met several fellow YouTubers through Big Frame, a YouTube marketing company, and has even strengthened some long-distance friendships from Fresno, including her friendship with Camille Kahle, who is now a Provo resident and has her own YouTube channel, CamieKahle.
“We’ve known each other since we were little, and we were good friends but we never got to hang out in high school,” Kahle said. “One day after she moved to Provo, she messaged me, saying, ‘So, I have a YouTube channel now’ and invited me to check it out. It was through her YouTube channel that we reconnected because we started talking about books. Now we’re best friends.”
Isabel Williams, a 14-year-old from Portland, Oregon, first learned about Sharples’ channel through Pinterest.
“It was a video about Percy Jackson, one of my favorite book series,” Williams said. “For a 13-year-old, seeing someone as articulate, mature and cool as Cassidy talking about something I enjoyed showed me that I was definitely not alone. Cassidy’s channel inspired me to create my book reviewing channel. It inspired me to wear my differences proudly and to never be ashamed of the things I enjoyed.”
The next big thing
Although she’s found fame, fortune and friendship through her channel, Sharples has even bigger dreams. She is starting her own video blog that will include more humorous stories about her life. She recently married her husband, Jordan, a BYU student, and is majoring in English with the hope of becoming a novelist. She has more to contribute because of the things she learns in her program.
“Going to class makes me want to make a YouTube video, and making a video makes me want to go to class,” Sharples said.
Through her channel, Sharples is doing what videos on YouTube and other online media gives users the opportunity to do: reinforcing and adding toward life education.