Six college students cracking jokes and making beats turned into an internet phenomenon with over 900,000 subscribers and videos with over 3,000,00 views. The group of Atlanta comedians, known as Dormtainment, consists of Amanuel Richards, Jerome “Rome” Green, Mike Anthony, Daunte “Tay” Dier, Chaz Miller and his brother Cameron Miller. After viral videos like “Ass on the Internet” and one of the first Black Harlem shake videos, they soon expanded their talent past laptop screens.
Natural hair guru Whitney White (Naptural85) uses videos to teach women to care for and embrace their curls and afros and has close to one million subscribers on YouTube. (Courtesy photo)
Both Dier and Green went to school for music, and the group created comedic mixtapes, albums, and music videos. Their albums “Broke and Famous” and “Broke and Famous 2” went to number one on iTunes. Dormtainment also performs live comedy shows at colleges across the country and after moving to Los Angeles, they’ve worked on a web series with Comedy Central called “Six Guys One Car.”
YouTube is a billion dollar social network that has allowed users around the world create and share video content. Producers and performers have received numerous opportunities from YouTube including recording contracts, acting careers, endorsement deals, and even earning money from advertising. Although many high profile YouTubers are White, unlike mainstream media, YouTube has given Black users a platform to create their own content and claim to fame.
Along with making people laugh, Dormtainment has also used their sketches to shed light on social issues like police brutality and racism. “It’s hard sometimes because we don’t know how to joke about certain situations, especially like nowadays with everything going on. But we know with our comedy we help heal how people are feeling at the moment and if we can hit on a little bit on what’s going on it can help them think about it and also maybe start a resolution about maybe they can help,” Anthony told The AFRO. After the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO in 2014, they created a video called “Cop Stories” where each group member talked about their experiences being pulled over by the police.
Internet sensation King Russell, commonly known by his YouTube username Kingsley, also finds his way to both discuss social issues and make people laugh. “I feel like not a lot of Black creators have a giant reach, but it’s growing thankfully…I feel like everyone makes an attempt to let our audience know what’s actually happening…and we’re all vocal, spread petitions, and do anything we can to help. I think through us doing it, it allows everyone else to help as well,” Russell told the AFRO. Kingsley is one of the most well-known YouTubers on the internet with over 3,000,000 subscribers. He’s also worked with companies such as Logo and LIFT to promote them to the African American and LGBT community.
Whitney White’s successful natural hair channel “Naptural85,” found an audience amid the many make-up and hair tutorials out there. “You can do everything with your hair. Natural hair is amazing. It’s so versatile. You can have an afro one day, straight the next. You can braid it up and even put on a wig. There’s so much you can do with natural hair its crazy. You literally will look like a different person every day if you wanted to. You can go from kinky to curly, coily, wavy, bone straight, mow hawk. It’s actually probably one of the most versatile textures out there,” White told the AFRO.
Whether styling her Kinks, experimenting with veganism, or vlogging about her adorable family, White has risen to the top in the Natural hair world. Because of her success she’s been able to promote The Wiz Live, appear in commercials for Shea Moisture, perform at Essence Fest and more.
“People have been connecting over hair in general since the beginning of time. That’s something that’s always been important to every culture, specifically the Black culture,” said White.
Sexologist Shannon Boodram uses YouTube to tackle sexual education and relationships. “We’re all here because of sex. I think sex drives a lot of our behavior and our choices. It’s a major part of lives,” Boodram told the AFRO. Although she says she’s sometimes lost jobs for talking about a topic some consider taboo, Boodram has used her passion to rise to the top. She’s currently working with MTV and Trojan Condoms to create videos that advocate safe sex. She’s also worked with AIDS health care, BET, written a book, and is invited to this year’s VMA’s.
Boodram is a woman of color, but doesn’t want to be simplified to just a Black YouTuber. “I think that YouTube can be a place where it’s very racially polarizing. The White YouTubers get the benefit of not being pigeonholed in a racial box,” said Boodram. “A lot of my audiences will only be people of color or minorities…my topic is colorless”
Like many people on YouTube, Whitney White also deals with negative comments online. “Back in the day it was a bunch of people online who were very friendly and wanting to form relationships. Coming from that era it was a lot easier to open up and share my life with people,” said White. “Throughout the years it has opened us up to scrutiny and judgment and that kind of makes you want to close down a little bit…but personally I enjoy sharing my personal life.”