Savannah Brown's YouTube video "What Guys Look for in Girls - A Slam Poem" just hit over two million views -- quite a few more views than the average 17-year-old probably gets on a YouTube video.
"But I mean we all end up with our heads between our knees / because the only place we'll ever truly feel safe / is curled up inside skin we've been taught to hate / by a society that shuns our awful confidence and feeds us our own flaws," she says in her poem. "Since when was loving who we are made an offense by morons that don't matter?"
I had the chance to catch up with Savannah this past week to ask her about not only this powerful video, but also how she achieves so many views, her biggest YouTube regret and her hopes for the future.
And if you were wondering: yes, she is just as nice and genuine in person (well, over the phone) as she is in her videos.
Before you made "What Guys Look For In Girls -- A Slam Poem," which is your highest-viewed video with over two million views, did you have a large following on YouTube?
I had probably around 17,000 subscribers, so definitely I had a nice little group that supported what I did. That's why it was kind of weird that it blew up how it did.
Before that video, what do you think brought so many followers to your channel?
That's a great question. I'm honestly not sure. I mostly made just dorky little videos that mostly consist of me talking, so it's not like I'm doing anything extraordinary. I'm just sorta me and ramble and talk about silly things, but people seem to like it.
What is your secret to success when making videos that have so many views?
For me, I talk about what I'm passionate about and what gets me going. I think if you talk about something you're passionate about, people will recognize that passion, and it will draw people to you. So I guess the big secret would be to just figure out what you love and what makes you excited, and roll with it.
What thoughts were going through your head when you were watching this video, of which your slam poem was based? What gave you the idea to make a video response?
I was actually kind of late to the party because there was lots of controversy about that before I made the video. I had watched it, and mostly it made me angry. I wasn't feeling hatred toward them. A lot of people had made video responses talking about why the things he had said were an issue. I don't really know why in the end I decided to make a poem about it because I guess that is sort of a weird way to respond, but it got me thinking about how I could put forth the message as to why stuff like that is wrong in a different away.
Did you expect your poem to gain such huge popularity?
Not at all. I had no idea that it would gain such traction. And it was terrifying, honestly, that it got so big so quickly. I think that's my biggest regret; if I had known it would've been so well-received and shared around so much, I would've performed it a lot better.
Your poem is so well-written and captivating. How did you come up with your ideas like "you don't need any miracle cream to keep your passions smooth, hair free / or diet pills to slim your kindness down?" What was the writing process like?
I just get bursts of inspiration that come in little bursts of creativity, so I pretty much just sat down and wrote the whole thing in one sitting. A lot of it just came from letting myself go. It had very little revision afterward. I think my process is that I have no process, essentially.
What was the filming process like?
I ran through it three times, and I picked the one I liked best. And I didn't really have to edit it. [For] other videos, I will just have a general idea about what I want to be talking about. I pretty much ramble for 30 minutes, I put it on my computer and I spend time editing and attempting to get it under four minutes and cut out all the irrelevant nonsense.
What sort of responses have you received?
As a whole, the response has been incredible. Originally it went crazy on Tumblr, and the response there was awesome and super inspiring. And then it got posted on Upworthy, which was the first kind of big recognition that I got. [But] there were some nasty things said. I've had really awful things said about it, honestly, but generally, the response to it has been just incredible and it has made me really thankful for people in general.
What do you hope audiences gain from your watching your slam poem?
It is just about people in general, not specifically about women; it's about just people realizing that they should not be limited to thinking that they are their appearance. Our bodies are just this silly, irrelevant thing that in the long run does not matter. So if people took anything from it, I hope that it be they can look at themselves with a new confidence.
What are your future plans? I see that you that say "Standards Don't Define Me," but do you plan to take this any further?
I had never really made it known that I liked to write poetry before that, so after that a lot of people were interested in seeing more [poetry]. Related to that, I still have my wristbands. We were going to make T-shirts for a bit, but I wasn't too keen on that. But definitely more poetry. And also, ever since that video got the attention it did and brought more people to my channel, I have wanted to use that power wisely. I've been making videos recently about issues that need to be addressed. So if anything, it'd be more poetry and more important messages that I'd like to bring to people.
With over two million views, you've definitely impacted a lot of people with that single video. What does it mean to you?
Oh my gosh, it's amazing, really. When it first happened, it did not even hit me. It's actually insane that it was able to reach so many people. Like I said, I've gotten the nicest comments and emails from people, saying that I've helped them and that I've helped them see themselves differently, and that is just incredible. It's really humbling. I'm just some schmuck that makes YouTube videos, so it's incredible that I was able to help people through what I did.
What did you think of this interview? Would you like to see more? Join the conversation below, or follow/tweet at Annie Schugart.