Taryn Southern is an American singer, actress and comedian. She was part of American Idol season three's Top 50. Southern gained national attention with her video Hot4Hill during the 2008 Presidential race. She later went on to star in and executive produce DirecTV's first original series, Project My World.
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UPDATE - Reddit community, I have to go now (to drinks, go figure!) but thank you so much for having me!
Hi, I'm Taryn and I'm a YouTuber.
Three years ago I quit my job as an actress/TV host (I did guest stars on shows like New Girl, Rules of Engagement, American Dad) to pursue a full-time career as a content creator on YouTube.
Now when people ask what I do for a living, the simple answer is that I make A LOT of videos. Music videos, comedy videos, videos on pretty much whatever I talk to my therapist(s) about.
That being said, YouTube money is not nearly enough to live off of - so I take on a lot of outside projects. This includes advising companies and start-ups on their digital content strategies, and producing one-off videos and serialized content for brands (like Marriott, Conde Nast, MovieTickets.com, etc). I also occasionally still host for TV specials.
My current projects include a musical movie (in development) and a talk show series with Maker Studios that celebrates internet culture and its larger than life personalities. (Thus far we've talked to fringe Presidential candidates, real-life Doms, grandmas on Tinder and everything in between.) You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/TarynSouthern.
Fun fact: I am typically encouraged to drink on the job.
Is the Just Kidding really as fun to hang around with as they seem?
They are the best. The JK news team are some of my favorite people on YouTube.
Hello Taryn! Been a big fan of yours for awhile. Since you started out as a more traditional performer/entertainer than a Youtuber, how have you balanced your real life versus life on Youtube? What is your process of how much and what to reveal versus what you want to present as your persona of Taryn Southern the Youtuber?
When I started on YouTube, that was actually a huge mental roadblock for me. As an actress, I was accustomed to reading lines and conforming to a certain "comedy shtick" - and on YouTube, that doesn't work so well. People want authenticity. I suppose I ended up doing a weird mix of both - most of my material is based on something that has happened to me, but it's certainly not all real. (In fact, when I first started, almost all my videos were somewhat scripted.) I looked at the process more like a comedian, casting myself as a certain "character." In real life, I'm a much more serious person - and it's only after several years of doing the YouTube thing, that I've felt more open and okay with being that on my own channel.
What was it like working with Clint Howard, and Dee Wallace? I'm a fan of both.
Only worked with them for a day or two a long time ago on a film, but they were both incredibly sweet people!
If you had to defeat a man with just one hit,what would you do???
I'd probably die because I'm terribly uncoordinated, but I'd probably go for the eyes. Also, you don't need to be too strong to do some serious damage there? Ew.
Are you planning to record anymore videos with JKnews? #Toe lol
most definitely. in 2016. love those guys to pieces.
When will you be back with them? You're always awesome.
Thank you! I was supposed to do the show a couple weeks ago but been very busy working on my talk show...but will definitely be back in January!!
Were you and DJ Lubel ever an item, or was that just for the videos?
Just for the videos :)
This completely random and irrelevant to your career.....but what are you doing for the holidays this year?
I am actually hoping to figure that out by tomorrow! Definitely taking a week or so off out of the country somewhere. I'm really bad at making decisions.
What is the best way for your followers to give your videos more exposure?
Hm...that is the golden question!
Out of the major social media platforms, I think Facebook tends to be the best place for fans to share videos (though Facebook does now bury YouTube links in their algorithm with the launch of Facebook video.)
Probably the best thing they could do if they really love a piece of content, is submitting it to blogs and/or bloggers who might find it relevant or interesting to embed in an article or write about. Since most of us can't afford PR people, that's a luxury we don't have - so whenever a blogger writes about a piece of content I do, I'm THRILLED!
Also, reddit :D
not going home?
I usually prefer going home in the summer, plus sometimes my family has to work on Christmas so it's not the best time!
A few reasons -
It was really hard dealing with the inconsistency of my work schedule, and quite frankly, lack of control. For every 1 "yes" there were 30 "no's." I found myself feeling trapped, always in a state of worry, and it was inhibiting my personal life.
I always felt like I was canceling plans on friends because of a last minute audition, or because my call time to be on set had moved up from 8am to something ridiculous, like 4am.
The pressure, at time, could be excruciating. I found myself in a constant state of anxiety - would I get the job? Would I get fired from the job?
Ironically though, the thing that actually put me over my limit wasn't the instability or the pressure. To be honest, I just got bored. The more I worked on a TV or film set, the more I realized I just really didn't like it all that much. Acting, while it can be fun, is also grueling and tedious when you're pulling 16 hour days on set and reading the same lines over and over. It just wasn't for me!
Oh and no - no regrets!! I am INCREDIBLY happy about no longer having to sweat it out in audition rooms.
how long does it take you to learn a Youtube cover and put it together?
If I'm really feeling ambitious, 1 day. That's just enough time to learn the song, put together a basic track, record & comp vocals, and then film a basic video. I don't think I've ever done it quite that fast though - 3 days probably?
Where are you the most tickklish??
everywhere. I will punch someone if they try to tickle me - it's a reflex
what 5 things would u try to experience if u could be the opposite gender for a day?
1) urinals. actually, no. that doesn't sound that interesting.
2) something athletic because I'm weak as shit
3) asking a girl out on a date (I wanna see what that feels like!! my fear of rejection would be insurmountable)
I could only come up with three.
if u had a character in a down and dirty mortal kombat-style fighting game, what fighting moves would you have?
sprays MACE in opponent's face
How do you choose the covers you do?
I generally try to choose songs that I love (like Youth by Foxes) but sometimes it's fun to just take something in the zeitgeist and try to do something different with it (when I made Red Lights by Tiesto into a ballad, for instance.)
This year I made a whole album of 80's covers, remade for 2015 - and that was a SUPER fun process. Funny though, that many of my subscribers on YouTube were too young to know the songs!
who wins in a fight between Catwoman and the Joker and how? no weapons allowed
The Joker is insane, so he'd probably just eat her (like one of those people on bath salts.)
For someone that's never heard of you, what video should I watch first ?
Oh gosh. Depends what you're looking for....I've made over 300 videos on my channel and switched directions too many times to count. Here are a few examples :D
Comedy song -
Internet Stalker - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4hMT3KgX20
Serious song -
I Love You, But - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_FFMWgrhaM
Silly Vlog -
Why I'm Single - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzSJQfKf6PE
Have you ever accidentally hurt someone during a stunt, like kicked them in the nuts, hit them in the head or something?
probably - but thank goodness not bad enough to remember a specific instance!
I know, I preordered it in June and you sent me a very sweet video message. FBF is AWESOME.
So glad you liked it!!
In any free time (if any) would you rather binge watch a show or read a good book series?
Book series! I LOVE to read. About to start on some sci fi stuff this holiday break!
best scene in 1) dumb and dumber and 2) Something about mary?
Been too long, can't remember either very well! I was pretty young. There's obviously that infamous zipper scene in Mary....
All I know about ayahuasca is what i watched in some tv shows about mystery and paranormal things. they talked about Out-of-body experience, and talking to "spirits" There is something "magical" about ayahuasca or it's only a "chemical trip"?
Ayahuasca is one of many entheogens that can cause a 'mystical' experience that feels very real for the participant - which is why it is often transformative when the person re-enters reality.
Most of us walk through life with a defined script (limitations, personal experience, etc), so the epiphanies that come from distorting one's reality can often feel "magical." I personally don't believe it's "magic," but I do believe that alternate states provide us with different frameworks to allow us to identify and/or better define our personal truths.
What's your favorite beer and video game?
I loved Myst growing up, so that probably counts as my favorite game, thought technically it's a computer game.
I'm not a huge beer person, but I'll pretty much drink anything alcohol if given the option. I love a good red wine. Also, hard cider and ginger beer are awesome.
what about the bad stuff, like getting kicked in the balls?
nope, no desire to experience that.
Are Bart and Joe as cool in person as they seem to be in their videos?
They are both just as cool :D
Hey TaySo I've got some questions for you.
Is being the "Wrong Hole" girl a positive or negative thing in your dating life?
You're from Kansas, why are there so many serial killers from Kansas?
True/False: Nancy Roder is your boyfriends favorite role play character in the bedroom?
When are you doing the Crayola Challenge? This is that viral youtube thing where you put crayons between your toes and do a coloring book. Don't waste time looking it up; this is totes a real thing and not a ploy to have you make a video about your feet.
1) Ha! I suppose the "Wrong Hole" video is a positive for my dating life ...in the sense that if someone wouldn't date me because of the video, we probably just don't share the same sense of humor. Could be an easy way to weed out potential boyfriends! That being said, I'm more concerned with my future children finding it on Google.
2) Good question. We've had too many. I was actually contacted after BTK was arrested as one of his 'potential' victims (they found photos of me in his house, amongst photos of many other young women he had collected over the years.)
3) Definitely false. Would be terrifying if ANYONE wanted that character in the bedroom
4) Never even heard about it but pretty sure I could only do that if I put a twist on it (i.e. put fake warts all over my feet)...now that would be funny.
Hi Taryn! Two part question if you don't mind. First, how do you find a balance between content you want to make on YouTube and content that gets views/fits the algorithm? Second, I remember you relaunched your YouTube channel from scratch a few years ago and had to get all your subscribers back. What was the biggest hurdle from that startover and how'd you overcome it?
Thanks for doing the AMA. Say hi to Nancy for me! Oh, and Tiggy.
Tiggie says hi!!
1) I think this is a headache for most YouTubers, and so often times we do a mixture of both. Take YouTube musicians for instance - they often will tackle a popular cover song each week as a good search/algorithm strategy, and then use their free time to make the stuff they really love (like original music videos.) Vloggers often do the same thing (talk about things that are trending right now versus their own personal lives) & comedians (sketches they love vs. topical sketches.)
For me, I try to focus on doing what I really want to be doing, otherwise, I'd go do other things. But it's hard not to get in your bummed out when something I've worked really hard on gets hardly any views and something dumb is watched by millions. That's why you're seeing so many condom challenges being uploaded right now!
2) The funny thing is, I never really had a YouTube channel with a bunch of subscribers when I "relaunched." I just had an old channel called "hott4hill" (where I'd released my first video, Hot for Hillary) and at that time, you couldn't change your username! Now, of course, you can. I think I only had about 15,000 subscribers on that old channel, so I wasn't losing much by starting from scratch. I just really wanted to be able to use my name.
Why are you not able to make enough money off of YouTube? Not judgy, genuinely curious. I've been reading about people making 150k a year and up and I'm genuinely curious to know what they're doing, that other people aren't.
Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of people who make a good living "off YouTube" - but the money generally isn't coming from YouTube Ads. Google Adsense (the ads that YouTube places on videos and next to video content) makes up a very small portion of MOST YouTubers' income. While the amount that YouTubers receive per click on those ads varies from channel to channel, generally speaking, it's just not enough to make a dent (i.e. fashion vloggers and Tech reviewers typically have a higher CPM then comedians because their audience is there to BUY things...and is more likely to click the ads.)
As a general rule of thumb, for every million views a YouTuber gets on a video, he/she sees about $1300-$2400. For videos that are cover songs of another artist, that is typically $0 (the ad revenue goes to the original artist.)
If you calculate the cost it takes to make the videos (for some YouTubers, this is very low, for others, this is very high), it's easy to see how the math doesn't add up.
For me, I would be LOSING money every year if I only could depend on YouTube's Adsense program. It just costs too much to make the videos.
That's where brand deals, sponsorships, and outside gigs become absolutely necessary.
This is also why many YouTubers are very unhappy with the giant split YouTube takes from their ad revenue (many of them also have another percentage given to their management companies and agencies.)