Some people are just born to entertain! Dublin-based YouTuber and DJ Riyadh Khalef has been a natural both behind the camera and in front of a microphone since middle school, broadcasting himself out first through his pirate radio station, and quickly finding a home for himself on YouTube! Since then, Riyadh’s produced viral hit after hit, with his edgy comedy and short documentary content gaining international attention from the likes of BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, BBC, and MTV – just to name a few!
We caught up with Riyadh K to talk to him about his crazy success, and even crazier summer that’s seen him take the frontpage as a MAJOR voice in the Irish Marriage Referendum, present on stage at VidCon alongside LGBT icon DaveyWavey, and most recently hit up the UK’s biggest annual vlogger meet-up, Summer in the City! Check out our Q&A with this uber busy BBTV Creator as we discuss his journey as both a YouTuber and an activist below.
Hi Riyadh! Congrats on yet another viral moment and getting your video featured on Buzzfeed! For viewers out there who aren’t already familiar with your stuff, would you mind sharing a little bit on what your channel all about?
Hey! My channel is a bit of a mishmash of anything that is funny or meaningful to me. My content could be described in a nutshell as comedy with an LGBT slant that occasionally delves into the more serious side of life from time to time. I like putting people in weird/awkward situations and filming their natural organic reactions.
What was your inspiration for YouTubing? Any advice you want to give to people looking to start a channel themselves?
My inspiration to start my YouTube journey began when I was just 16. I saw Tyler Oakley talking to a camera in his bedroom and I was mesmerized by his charm, happiness and authenticity. I thought.. “I can do that!” So I bought a camera and started filming. I did it for a year before stopping because of online homophobic abuse. After a 6-7 year gap I’ve decided to make a return and thank god I have because it has changed my life and has brought me so much joy.
I would say to a newbie that they should film themselves a few times and watch it back over and over. It takes time to get used to the unnatural art of speaking to yourself. By breaking down that wall of nerves and fear you will appear a lot more comfortable and relatable. Than think about uploading and sharing yourself with the world. Also, be YOU! Don’t feel you need to impersonate any other creator or talk about any particular subject. Speak about what you know or care about and the passion/entertainment will flow from you naturally.
Have you noticed a change in your life since you became a YouTuber?
My life has changed drastically in the last 6 months. I have travelled to the US and UK four times, filmed with MTV, Disney, NBC, CNN, BBC and more. I have made friendships with YouTubers that I was (am still) a fan of, been offered jobs at media companies that I dreamt of working with and had the opportunity to bring my family on the adventure with me.
I went from 2K subs to almost 70K subs in virtually no time at all. It is something that I hugely appreciate and will not waste. Making great content is what I love. It’s what I spend every moment thinking about. I can’t imagine what the next year might bring.
Do you have a favourite video (that you created)? Why?
The video that I’m most proud of is ‘GAY GUY CALLS WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH’. I love turning political or hateful situations into funny situations. If I had called them and screamed down the phone like many others have done then the video wouldn’t have reached almost 2 million views. I wanted to shine a light on the ridiculous beliefs of this awful church in a peaceful yet entertaining way.
You’re very close to your parents, as viewers have seen in your videos. What do your parents think about your YouTube success?
My parents love what I’m doing on YouTube. Initially they were worried about my first viral video where my mom was reading Grindr messages. Mom called me crying as it started to spread across the world. She begged me to take it down because she didn’t know how to handle all the media attention. Soon after though she began to crave it and wants to be in more videos with me now!
Dad loved reading the comments about himself on my latest video. Nothing like an ego boost to soften your parents I say! They are like managers to be honest. They always text me saying that I need to tweet more, post a new pic on Instagram or edit my videos faster! They are very mush part of my success so far and it will remain that way.
Any more family members we can expect cameos from in future uploads?
I was hoping to feature my Grandmother in a video but unfortunately she passed away last year. I do feel her presence all the time though so I guess you could say she is there in another way, making sure I don’t make an absolute tool of myself.
We all know Melanie Murphy is one of your besties. Can we expect any collabs anytime soon?
Melanie and I because friends very recently and we instantly clicked. We just ‘get’ each other and both have such high goals and work ethics. She is someone that makes being on YouTube fresh and pure. There is no bullshit, no ego, no bitchiness with Mel.
We are planning a couple of collaborations on each other’s channels in the coming weeks so stay tuned!
What was it like presenting with DaveyWavey at VidCon?
I’ve been a massive fan of Davey for about 6 years so when I got the call saying that I would be presenting with him I nearly died. Then when Davey asked if I’d like to film with him, well… I nearly died all over again.
We met the morning of our event at VidCon and had breakfast together. My nerves vanished within 2 minutes of meeting him. He’s such a genuine creative soul and had such encouraging things to say about my work. Safe to say I’m not only a friend but an even bigger fan now.
You were a huge voice in the Irish referendum on gay marriage earlier this year. What was it like being a part of such a historic moment?
I think back to a pre-legalization Ireland and can’t quite believe that my country was so backwards and archaic. Being a small part of the battle for equality is something that I am eternally proud about. I know I will be able to die happy knowing I put everything I had into the campaign through TV interviews, debates, appearing on flyers delivered to every home in the country and my own equality videos on my channel. We set out to make history and that’s exactly what we did.
Any thing you want to share with all the LGBTQ youth out there who look up to you and what you’re doing?
I met a huge amount of LGBT young people at VidCon, Craic Con and Summer In The City. Coming face to face with these people who are going through exactly what I experienced as I came out was an emotional experience.
I say to all those young people that I am there for you in one way or another, I understand what you are feeling and I promise you that life gets easier. Use me to answer your questions or to see that you too can be happy in your own skin no matter how tough things might get.
What can we expect next from you?
I plan to collaborate with many more creators in the near future and to make more videos that make people laugh, think and cry at times. I am pushing towards my milestone of 100K subscribers and once I get there I will be able to put more time into YouTube and increase my uploads to 2 videos per week!
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