We're celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with Future Hispanic History Month, highlighting rising stars who are creating history before our very eyes. Today we honor Bethany Mota, the 20-year-old O.G. YouTuber who started out in 2009 and has amassed an astonishingly large, dedicated audience since.
Mota, born in California and of Portuguese and Mexican descent, started her YouTube channel, MacBarbie07, in 2009 with a "haul video" featuring products she'd just scooped up from Sephora and—you guessed it—Mac.
In a 2015 Latina cover story, Mota reflected on how her YouTube videos were a way to cope with bullying, anxiety, panic attacks and withdrawing from her family and the world:
“I was scared to express my opinion or talk because I was afraid of judgment. I thought, ‘I’m always going to be too scared to live life.’ That’s when I knew I had to do something, and I started doing the videos. ... It was my own little secret thing. I was able to escape the darkness and create something that was my own, and nobody needed to know about it. I was still in my bubble but I was reaching out to the world in a different way.”
Mota eventually broadened her focus to DIY step-by-step videos and themed fashion tutorials, gaining 10.3 million followers and 883.3 million views. Her biggest video, 2013's "Healthy Back to School Lunches + After School snack ideas!," has been seen 15.4 million times.
The year before her Latina cover story, she told the mag, "You can’t go into it with just the determination of just wanting to be successful. You have to want to genuinely make videos and genuinely want to help people and to entertain them."
She's taken home three Choice Web Star trophies at the Teen Choice Awards and has been nominated in both the Female and Fashion/Beauty subcategories the last three years. Her audience also includes 5.7 million followers on Instagram, 3.6 million on Twitter, 1.8 million on Facebook. She's also recorded some music:
In 2013, Mota launched an Aéropostale line—clothes, perfume, accessories—over which she retained creative control; it continued for more than two years. She's also appeared on television via Dancing With the Stars and Project Runway. "I'm totally open to new opportunities and doing things in traditional [media], as long as I can make sure it brings people back to the home base," she told CNBC this year. "They're really changing the way people consume content, so I want to continue to be loyal to YouTube because I feel like they've done so much for me."
With unique YouTube superstars still at the cutting edge of entertainment in 2016, we'll be looking to Bethany Mota to see what's next.