11 Asian YouTubers You Should Subscribe To
How many Asian actors can you name? Bruce Lee, Lucy Liu… Oh, Mr. Miyagi!
Perhaps we have a hard time identifying Asian actors because they are largely absent from Western media. However, there is a different phenomenon happening online. The accessibility of the Internet has provided an opportunity for minorities to make a name for themselves. The Asian community in particular has flourished on YouTube.
YouTube celebrities are role models for Asian youth to look up to in media, and widen the range away from the common stereotype’s we tend to see in Hollywood.
According to a 2011 Pew research survey, Asian and Pacific Americans make up 4.5% of the U.S. population*. Eighty-seven percent of them are online every day, compared to 74% White Americans. It is no wonder that Asian YouTubers have found a special place on YouTube.
This list covers 12 Asian YouTubers that you should keep an eye on in the changing media landscape we live in today.
*This list does not focus solely on Asian-Americans, but brings in several nationalities.
1. Nigahiga (Ryan Higa)
Nigahiga, the pseudonym for a Japanese-American from Honolulu, HI named Ryan Higa, is a well-known YouTube celebrity. He has been in the game since the beginning, posting videos as early as 2006 (YouTube launched in 2005). You’re probably familiar with Higa’s YouTube videos, seeing as the most popular ones have around 60 million views.
His videos span several genres. He is best known for goofy comedy skits, but dabbles in music as well.
You should subscribe to Nigahiga because he is a key character in YouTube history. His videos are popular among people of many races and ethnicities, proving that humor is a universal language.
2. Communitychannel (Natalie Tran)
Natalie Tran provides self-deprecating and relatable humor. Her style can be dry at times, but will leave you laughing nonetheless. She lives in Australia, but has taken a liking to traversing the globe. She has partnered with Lonely Planet in the past making promotional travel videos.
Although her forte is in vlog style comedy, she is not afraid to tackle more serious topics. She gave a speech at Brown University for the Asian American Student Association about Asians in Media. She posted a video of her speech on her channel, which brought a more serious, thought provoking element to her persona.
“YOUR MUM RATES ME”
Tran’s style is aimed at a slightly more mature audience than Higa’s, but she shies away from outright crudeness. She ends each video with a segment called “porno music/comment time,” in which she displays user comments on the screen and responds to them. She then displays in big block letters “YOUR MUM RATES ME,” suggesting she finds pleasure in childish humor.
3. Gunnarolla (Andrew Gunadie)
Canadian, Please gives away Andrew Gunadie’s love for his country, music, and comedy. However, it does not capture all that is Gunnarolla. In the iconic video, Gunadie and Julia Bently (YouTuber and musician) sing a humor filled ode to their country. The video blew up, hitting over 4 million views, and helped boost Gundadie’s YouTube presence.
Gunadie is still producing videos like Canadian, Please, but there hasn’t been a huge fad surrounding much of his current work. He is more aloof than many YouTubers who post twice a week to everyday. He makes it clear in his vlogs that he has other things going on in his life that he wants to pursue, but that doesn’t mean he has abandoned his YouTube family.
He has done various promotional collaborations. Most recently he teamed up with Hard Rock Cafe for the World Burger Tour, in which he visits various Hard Rock Cafe’s and finds out what makes their local themed burgers special.
Like Tran, Gunadie has taken an interest in travel. From Egypt to Thailand, Gunadie captures his adventures for his YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram followers.
4. JeffreyFever (Jeffrey Chang)
Jeffrey Chang is from Montreal, Canada. He is fairly new to the YouTube scene, but has already gained quite a following. He started as a ballroom dancer, and now produces his own comedy sketch YouTube videos. He also covers songs and makes music video parodies.
He appeared on Canada’s Got Talent with his sister, Karen Chang. They did not win, but their choreographed dances got them to the semifinals.
He has appeared on The Ellen Show in 2012 because he posted a video of himself doing the “Ellen Dance Dare,” in which you simple film yourself dancing behind strangers in public and then awkwardly walk away when they turn around. His fancy feet caught Ellen’s attention, and got him on national television.
If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, Higa would be honored by the videos on Chang’s channel. It is no surprise that Chang points to Higa as inspiration for making videos, because the fast-paced humor he provides mirrors Higa’s style to a T.
“This is JeffreyFever, and I’m pressing the record button now.”
At the end of each video, he signals his sign off with the simple phrase, “This is JeffreyFever, and I’m pressing the record button now.” These words have become an iconic catchphrase, and Chang’s videos would be incomplete without them.
5. RocketJump (Freddie Wong)
RocketJump, a channel formerly known as FreddieW, is no longer run by Freddie Wong alone. However, Wong continues to play a major role in content production for the channel.
Wong’s videos are known for video game themes, intense action sequences, and guns blazing (thanks to special effects). They’re not all dark and depressing. Humor is not lost on Wong, and he fits it into even the goriest fight scenes.
He has also found success in writing and producing a web series called Video Game High School. Will Campos and Wong managed to raise enough money through Kickstarter to produce several seasons, and increase the run time of an episode from 1o to 50 minutes.
6. Wong Fu Productions
Wong Fun Productions is made up of three young Asian-American men: Phillip Wang, Ted Fu, and Wesley Chan. They started making videos in 2003 in college, and since then have grown into a professional production company. They write, shoot, produce, edit, and even act in their own videos, as well as making music videos, trailers, and various videos for other people.
Even though they have worked on projects for major companies like Subaru, AT&T, and JC Penny, they stay true to their humble YouTube roots. Wong Fu Productions still takes the time to provide authentic content for their fans.
If you are in need of a sentimental drama about heartbreak, or an uplifting, quirky love story, but only have 2–5 minutes to spare, Wong Fu is the place to look.
If you have a little more time to spare, you might consider watching Everything Before Us, which is a full-length film. The cast extends beyond the world of YouTube celebrities, starring actors like Aaron Yoo (Disturbia), Randall Park (The Interview), and Brittany Ishibashi (Political Animals). You can watch Everything Before Us on Vimeo.
7. Kina Grannis
Kina Grannis is a guitarist and singer-songwriter whose musical talent has flourished on YouTube. She started posting simple videos featuring herself and a guitar in 2007. From covers to original songs, her music has garnered a following online.
In 2008 she won the Doritos Crash Super Bowl XLII Commercial contest, which got her music on live television, and a deal with Interscope Records.
She won best Web Born Artist at the O Music Awards in 2011, which goes to show how much a supportive YouTube community can propel one’s career.
Her latest album is described as “… dark and driving, sweet and soaring, melancholy, humble, heartfelt and hopeful.”
8. Jwcfree (Sungha Jung)
Sungha Jung is a young Korean solo artist who plays acoustic fingerstyle guitar. He began playing guitar when he was only 10 years old, and his talent has bloomed into something truly beautiful.
Jung began posting videos on YouTube eight years ago, and the following he gained helped drive his musical career forward.
The style of Jung’s videos has not changed much over the years, but his skills have changed immensely. He posts videos of rearranged covers of songs, as well as original music.
At just 16, he has put out 4 full-length albums. He has collaborated with artists G-Dragon, Jason Mraz, and Trace Bundy.
He began touring the world in January, 2010, and sharing his music with millions of adoring fans.
9. TheSamTsui (Sam Tsui)
Sam Tsui is another singer-songwriter who has found an audience on YouTube. He produces covers, remixes, and original music on his channel. He sticks to pop genre-wise, and knows how to gather viewers with his catchy tunes.
He has done several popular collaborations with Kirk Hugo Schneider, who writes and produces music as well.
With just over 2 million subscribers, Tsui’s videos have managed to reach an expansive audience. But he doesn’t stop with an online presence; he has performed live shows in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and the US.
His videos are mostly based around his music, but he reaches out to fans with the occasional vlog. This “face-to-face” style video makes it easier to relate to Tsui as a person rather than just another famous popstar.
10. LuieLand (Jane Lui)
Another musician, but with a very unique style. Lui’s music is quirky and intriguing. She plays many things: guitar, accordion, piano, and the occasional water jug.
She enjoys mashing up pop songs and toning them down a bit. She takes pop-infused songs and mellows them out with a folksy tone. On her YouTube channel, she answers the question, “How do you pick your covers?” with: “Sometimes I pick a pop tune that annoys me then pick another that I love and mash’em.”
Lui grew up in Hong Kong, but settled down in San Diego, CA. She has a degree in choral conducting, and
Sometimes I pick a pop tune that annoys me then pick another that I love and mash’em.
With 30 thousand subscribers, Lui is not as popular (albeit still has a good following) as other YouTube celebrities on this list. But she also has moments of fame outside YouTube. She has collaborated with actress Felicia Day in a mashup of Payphone and Someday My Prince Will Come, which brought her name to fans of Day.
11. Michelle Phan
I bet you didn’t even bat a mascara covered eyelash when you saw Michelle Phan on this list. Phan’s videos are detailed make-up tutorials that guide the viewer through an array of styles. From Lady Gaga to a vampire, Phan has the ability to transform herself using make-up. And if you subscribe to her channel, you too can learn her ways.
The make-up guru is not only an internet icon, but an entrepreneur. Her YouTube channel has over 7.5 million subscribers, but her beauty tips have gone far beyond her YouTube persona. In 2011 she co-founded ipsy, which is a subscription service for personalized beauty products.
Her other endeavors include launching her own make-up line called Em-Cosmetics with L’Oreal, and joining with Cutting Edge Group (CEG) to launch music recording and publishing company called Shift Music Group.
Despite having numerous engagements, Phan continues to make YouTube tutorial videos for her subscribers.
No longer are you tied to Hollywood’s limited depictions of Asian characters — there is a wealth of talent to be found online. A whole new world is at your fingertips. Just hit subscribe.