So Many Questions: Lifecaster iJustine — Justine Ezarik — returns home for book tour
With more than 3 million subscribers across three YouTube channels (iJustine, otherijustine, iJustineGaming) and nearly 1.8 million Twitter followers, 31-year-old Pittsburgh native Justine Ezarik, aka iJustine, has parlayed a love of connecting online into a blossoming career in the entertainment world.
She's a contributor for “E! News,” “Access Hollywood,” Spike/GTTV and Billboard and has had acting gigs on “The Vampire Diaries,” “Law & Order” and “Criminal Minds.” She voices the character of Passion Fruit on Cartoon Network's “The Annoying Orange.” Her massive Internet following has landed her brand ambassador deals with the likes of Mattel, Nikon, Ford and Microsoft. And, lest anyone forget, a sexy spread in Maxim magazine.
When she began lifecasting 24/7 on the now-defunct Justin.tv in 2007, her full-time job as a graphic designer soon took a backseat to a growing Internet fan base. Case in point: her one-minute, seven-second long “300-page iPhone bill” video that went viral, snagging 2 million views in 10 days. Soon after, she packed up for the sunny skies of Los Angeles and never looked back.
But on June 5, the Pittsburgh Technical Institute grad and former spokeswoman for Mayor Bill Peduto, when he was a city councilman, is coming home. She'll be at the Books-A-Million store in Monaca from 6:30 to 7 p.m. as part of a nationwide tour, signing copies of her hot-off-the-press book, “I, Justine: An Analog Memoir.”
“I can't wait to get back to Pittsburgh,” she says.
Question: For people who have absolutely no idea, how would you describe what a “lifecaster” does?
Answer: I think it was one of those terms that was coined so long ago — then it was someone who was broadcasting all of their daily life. And I definitely don't do that anymore, because it was a 24/7 kind of thing. And now it's more edited content and sort of a little higher quality and cut down on the 24/7 live-stream stuff.
Q: Is giving people that kind of access into your life exhausting or exhilarating?
A: I'd say it was the most exhausting thing I've ever done. And I don't think I realized it until after I shut the camera off after the six months, and I was like, “Oh my goodness, I feel like people are watching and I feel like people are here, but they're not.”
And it was also kind of interesting because I was never alone no matter where I was. I would always have someone to talk to, and it would look like I was talking to myself, but I was talking to a camera. People around me didn't know it was on. So, I would be having conversations on my phone and getting tweets and responses to what I was saying so, you could say I sounded crazy. And I might have been.
Q: What was the tipping point where posting videos online went from hobby to career?
A: I don't think I ever had any idea that it was going to be what it is now. When I quit my job, I was just putting these videos on the Internet as a demo reel to show people I knew how to edit and do graphic design stuff. So, it was kind of fun to see it all come together and work out in the end.
Q: Is there one key behind getting millions of subscribers on social media?
A: Oh gosh, if there was, I think everybody would be doing it. Because it really is a grind. You have to enjoy it, and when I started doing this, it was fun. It wasn't like I was trying to build these followers — it just kind of happened. But now, I do try to keep in mind that you have to be consistent, you have to create content that people want to see and know the people that you're trying to reach.
Q: Do you ever just want to unplug and go totally off the grid for a few weeks?
A: Yeah, you know what, I do, and I get really bored. I can go a whole dinner without checking my phone, but it's one of those things where it's like, “I really want to capture this, I really want to share this.” I try to unplug, but, then, it's like, “I just gotta get that Instagram shot.”
Q: What's next for Justine?
A: Oh man, let's get through this book tour and then we'll talk. I'm tired already, and I haven't even started.
Q: Would you say this is your dream job?
A: Oh my gosh, it is. It's so much work, because it really is full time and 24/7, but I definitely wouldn't have it any other way.