A Conversation With YouTuber Grace Helbig

The YouTube host discusses her "awkward older sister" persona, how growing up in NJ gave her a backbone and high school pole vaulting.

youtube comedian Grace Helbig
Courtesy of Robin Roemer

You haven’t lived in New Jersey for quite a while, but I notice you still have a 609 area code.

It’s a little piece of my heart. I hope I never get hacked, because I really truly adore my 609 area code. It’s a conversation starter.

So you have fond memories of growing up in South Jersey? 

It gave me backbone. There’s a wonderful grit and sincerity to this concentrated little state.  

You were a track and pole-vaulting star at Gateway Regional High, not the nerdy or sad kid so many comedians claim as youthful personas.
I’d say star with quotations around it. There were only, like, 156 kids in my graduating class, and my body is 75 percent legs, and I noticed that female pole vaulting was a new thing. Being an overachiever, I saw there weren’t a lot of other people in the competition, and I thought I could swing my gangly legs over the bar.  

When did you start feeling like a YouTube celebrity? 

It has sort of felt more like we’ve built a community together online than me being above anybody in any way. But the time I felt most proud or excited is when my first book came out. My mom went to the Barnes & Noble at Deptford Mall, and she got recognized because she’s been in my videos. She went up to the counter to ask where the book was, and the person behind the counter knew she was my mom!

How would you explain your show Consistently Inconsistent to someone who has never watched?

It’s my way of explaining, in a lighthearted way, that my content-creation process doesn’t have a strict schedule. I’m a bit of a floppy, sloppy creative human, so it feels like the most accurate way to describe how I make things and what an audience can expect. It’s a fun way to manage expectations. 

What vein have you tapped into to draw 3 million YouTube followers? 

I think trying to stay true to my curiosity about humans and life in general has garnered an audience. I can’t present myself as a perfectly put-together lifestyle vlogger, because I’m just not that. A majority of my audience are younger females that I think see me as some sort of awkward older sister. I definitely don’t know the best way to do things, but I’ll for sure offer the best advice I can and we’ll figure it out together.  

Is building a YouTube community an end in itself, or do you hope to bring those followers along to traditional media, like TV and film?

I hope to bring them into whatever endeavors the future holds, whether that’s TV, film or opening a bakery. That’s not an actual goal, but I’ve been watching a lot of The Great British Baking Show lately, so it’s in my brain. Basically, I want them to come along for the ride, and I’m not even sure what the final destination is at the moment. 

What do you miss about living in New Jersey? 

One thing I don’t miss whatsoever is digging my car out of snow. But New Jersey is the silliest state, and I miss that. I miss the Shore—not MTV’s version, but the real one—and all the funny people. New Jersey is like a clenched fist that’s well meaning. My boyfriend, this new guy I’m dating, hasn’t been back with me yet, but I can’t wait for him to see it.

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