Shannon O’Connor ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor-In-Chief
Grace Helbig is taking the internet by storm. Helbig, better known by her internet pseudonym DailyGrace, may not have realized how quickly she would become an internet sensation but she definitely hit success early in her career.
It was while living in Brooklyn with her college friend Michelle Vargas making video blogs (vlogs) on their YouTube channel GraceNMichelle and taking classes at the People’s Improv Theater that Helbig auditioned and ended up booking job on MyDamnChannel’s new web series Bedtime Stories. It was through booking that job with MyDamnChannel that the company found the vlogs she did with Vargas and had the idea to experiment with having a host on MyDamnChannel.com. “DailyGrace was kind of this three week experiment that I did everyday for their website and it never stopped,” said Helbig.
Now, 5 years later DailyGrace is more popular than ever as just a month ago her YouTube channel hit 1 million subscribers and has continued to gain over 200,000 subscribers since reaching that milestone. However, DailyGrace was not always on YouTube as for the first two to two and a half years the vlog lived only on MyDamnChannel.com (these videos can be seen in the DailyGrace Archive), it was not until late 2010 when the decision was made to put the videos on YouTube as well. Along with its expansion to YouTube, DailyGrace was also restructured so that each day of the week Helbig vlogged would have its own reoccurring theme, a decision Helbig was very on board with. “I was pulling ideas out of my ass every single day,” she said. “To be able to kind of constrict them to one category or theme was so much more helpful for my brain and it gave people more of an anticipatory value.”
The daily themes consist of Monday as “Miscellaneous”, Tuesday as “Commenting on Comments,” Wednesday’s as “Reviews,” Thursday’s as “How To’s” and Friday’s as “Sexy Friday.” These themes were conceptualized through the help of then MyDamnChannel employee Jesse Cowell who had a lot of experience with video blogging and encouraged Helbig to structure the show and pushed for the theme “Sexy Friday.” “He (Cowell) was very emphatic about having “Sexy Friday” be a day and I said “I will do ‘Sexy Friday’ if you let me distinguish what sexy actually means,” said Helbig.
Cowell’s advice paid off as “Sexy Friday” is one of the most beloved themes of DailyGrace. “It’s misleading but people love it for some reason,” she said with a laugh.
While many people have positive feedback for Helbig, one of the themes, “Commenting on Comments.” requires her to go through the myriad of comments on the past week’s videos and not all the comments left are positive. Luckily, Helbig has been vlogging for so long she has desensitized herself to the negativity and tries not to take the negative comments personally. “I think that because I read them fairly often I have desensitized myself to them to some degree,” she said. “Even though as much as I think I am a robot, I’m still a human (laughs) and they do affect me when they are really harsh or really negative and it’s really hard because the brain tends to remember pain more than joy, or at least mine does from time to time (laughs). I can read 100 wonderful comments and one negative one and that one negative one will latch on to all the insecurities in your brain and not let go.”
Despite the occasional negative comment, it is the positive feedback that keeps Helbig motivated to continue vlogging. As the vlog’s new structure was certainly helpful, creating a new video every day, five days a week is a lot of work. Though that work load may discourage some, Helbig stays motivated to create content on a daily basis on account of the expectations she has of herself and the audience has of her. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s become almost second nature,” she said. “I feel like a marathon runner that runs a 5k every day, it’s kind of like my body and my brain kind of need it to feel like I have accomplished something for the day. It’s also just like an awesome obligation that is wonderfully fulfilling and a terrible amount of pressure at the same time (laughs), but it’s so nice to get positive feedback from people when you post a video, but I do feel that need now to post it every single day because there are expectations.”
The success of DailyGrace is certainly helping Helbig in her effort to use YouTube as a springboard to evolve DailyGrace and the Grace Helbig brand into other mediums. However, DailyGrace is not Helbig’s only contribution to YouTube as she also stars in The Fine Brothers’ successful web series MyMusic and will be taking part in this year’s YouTube Comedy Week.
Helbig landed her role as Idol on MyMusic after last year’s International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) Awards show in Las Vegas where she was presenting on stage with The Fine Brothers. “We had some witty banter back and forth and at the after party they both came over and were like, ‘We are casting a web series [and] we have a part that is perfect for you, it’s the last part we have yet to cast we couldn’t find anyone for it yet,’” she said.
The timing was perfect for Helbig as after the award show she was flying out to Los Angeles to audition for pilot season and a week after she touched down in LA she was on set shooting the first season. Production has recently started on season 2 of MyMusic where Helbig will be reprising her role of Idol. “I feel like I am just playing an improv character of like every girl I went to high school with and it’s really fun to be the most ridiculous version of something,” she said about her portraying he character Idol on MyMusic. “She has become a stress relief for me; she screams a lot, sings a lot, flail arms around all the time so I don’t have to go to the gym anymore.”
As if working on a web series and creating a daily vlog was not enough, Helbig announced on April 24 that she will be teaming up with fellow YouTube friends Hannah Hart (My Drunk Kitchen, Hello Harto) and Mamrie Hart (You Deserve A Drink) to bring their live #NoFilter show to venues in Boston, New York and Washington DC. The trio has done their #NoFilter show before in LA at the NerdMelt Theater in Hollywood, but now they are taking the show on the road as a trial run for a possibly larger #NoFilter tour. The trial run looks to be very successful as a day after the shows were announced all the venues were sold out, thus prompting them to add an additional show to each venue. “It was insane, we hardly had the chance to really promote it and it sold out,” Helbig said. “It’s so wonderful now we just need to get the show together (laughs).”
Even though an additional show was added at each venue, all shows are now sold out. However, if you cannot catch the #NoFilter tour this time, there is always the possibility of a larger tour coming up. Otherwise, you will be able to see Helbig at this year’s Vid Con in early August with a very special guest and a favorite DailyGrace guest, her mother. “I am trying to kind of mentally prepare her so that she understands, because she has no idea and it’s going to be a real anxiety attack for her when she gets there and sees how many kids swarm [Vid Con] that love the internet,” Helbig said. “She’s just going to assume the mom role for all of these tons and tons of kids that talk to her or she might just spontaneously combust from anxiety, so either one is going to be really great and I hope I catch it on camera.”
With a busy schedule tied to an already successful career, Helbig is always looking to do more and expand her creative output, but will always have her internet roots that she will remain loyal to. “I’m really hoping to start expanding into TV and film and the web videos will always be there,” she said. “I can never leave the internet it’s just like a really good/bad relationship that I just can’t get myself away from (laughs). There will probably be a day in the future where I downsize the amount of content I create, but I hope when that day comes it will be supplemented by content creation in another medium.”