“I think it’s just because I like to be comfortable when I’m talking. And so, being able to sit how I want… wear what I want, look however I want, that allows me to communicate better. And also, I do have to look at myself a lot. And so anytime I can not look at myself, I won’t.” This was Emma Chamberlain’s response as to why she keeps the camera off while on Zoom meetings. Honestly, I’m totally with the girl, having to look at yourself while talking just feels so unnatural and distracting. The only potential irony with this comment is that Chamberlain has made a living off looking at herself and talking (in the best way possible) as one of the world’s most famous YouTubers.
Chamberlain found great success as a YouTuber at a time where the platform was being questioned. In regards to content, you could umbrella her as a ‘lifestyle’ content creator, as she might post her Ugg boots to talk about how she’s going “sport mode” or post a pea soup recipe, but she also share late night videos about a panic attack, saying “I feel like I was watching myself exist and I wasn’t connected with my body or my mind.” If what Chamberlain does sounds like what everyone else does online, it’s because she invented it.
Now, at just 21 years old, Chamberlain has a net worth of $12 million. There is an exclusive Spotify podcast deal for her show Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain; she is the new face of Lancôme; she has brand partnerships with Cartier and Levi’s; she has hosted the red carpet at the Met Gala for the past few years. She even has a cult coffee brand, Chamberlain Coffee.
Yet despite being one of the world’s biggest YouTubers, she admitted, that she doesn’t even consume that much media right now. “I am trying to watch more movies and TV. What a weird thing to say,” she says, with a laugh. She watched all of Wes Anderson’s movies, but mostly the act of settling on something stresses her out because she feels obsessive about finishing what she starts. “That’s a weird mental block that I need to get over because I’m so scared of being married to it, which sounds so bizarre because you can turn it off. But then I’m also scared I’m going to miss something.”
“I don’t have a lot of social life to be honest,” she says. She’ll maybe plan a weekend dinner with friends, but her downtime “is mainly just hanging out with my boyfriend watching TV and, like, ordering food. I don’t have a lot of time right now to have friends. And that’s okay with me.” She’s not lonely. In fact, she loves living alone. “You can play house whenever you want.
Part of the need for alone time is that her job, she points out, is very social. Covering the Met Gala last May, she had a sweetly odd interaction with Jack Harlow. (He said, “Can’t wait. Love ya. Bye.” She responded “Love ya” back and made a truly shocked and mortified expression that instantly became a meme.) “I laughed my ass off. I don’t even remember saying that in the interview, I’m on such an autopilot in this almost disassociated way that I’m not conscious,” she says. “I mean, celebrities, at this point, they are normal people to me. I’m over it, I’m sorry. I really, really, really don’t like the pedestal that celebrities get out on, including myself. And I don’t mean like a pedestal as a role model, but rather just as some sort of godlike human being. Celebrities are not any more amazing than somebody that you met in the street. So I know that now.”
In regards to her focus moving forward, its quality over quantity. “I’d rather work on less, but I have my hands on everything. And so that’s kind of what I do,” she says. She can’t help herself. There’s a lot of thought that goes into what she pulls off as casual—writing and researching a lot of what appears to be a verbal essay for her podcast, expanding Chamberlain Coffee. She doesn’t necessarily have a meticulously planned next five years, but something more intuitive about her ambitions. “Day by day, what am I feeling today? That’s really important to me, so that I can have freedom within that structure.”