Sydney Serena, at just the young age of twenty, has already accomplished multiple notable milestones for herself. Her YouTube channel, ever so popular among young teenagers, has accumulated over 2M subscribers and counting. She's moved from her hometown of Minnesota to the sunny side of Los Angeles to pursue her dreams and has created a social platform for herself where she uses her voice to raise awareness and advocate for what she feels strongly about. And she's doing all of this and more while attending college.
The Teen Magazine had the chance to talk with Sydney about a variety of topics, ranging from her work and personal life, to her hopes and dreams, alongside a virtual photoshoot.
Social Media Ventures & Lifestyle Content
Sydney started her social media ventures in 2014, when she was just 14 years old. "My videos were mainly beauty-focused back then, but has evolved into the lifestyle vlogging seen on my channel today," says Sydney, "I've tried out different themes and ventures of contents, and with time, my style differs as well."
At first, her videos didn't skyrocket into the thousands of views she sees today. "My first year into my YouTube channel, I only recieved about a thousand views a year," says Sydney, "I think the thing that discourages most people is how much patience a channel needs in order to grow. Things take time, and this certainly does; I consistently posted, even if I didn't get a lot of views, and that has helped me considerably into shaping my platform into what it is today."
On Sydney's YouTube channel, her audience can view fun and exciting videos such as "Cutting and Dyeing Hair", "Closet Cleanout", and "Vegan Fast Food Taste Test." Her videos mainly consist of lifestyle videos, and Sydney is interested in sharing some more."I want my content to be as genuine as possible," she says, "I try to share everything I'm comfortable with, because authenticity is important for me as a creator."
Spreading Positivity Online
"With my content, I want to spread positive messages to my followers. I'd love for them to get something out of my videos that make them happy and feel joy from."
Many fans have expressed that Sydney has been an amazing influencer to the younger preteen viewer demographic, and the videos were entertaining and friendly. "I love that she puts on a smile on my face everytime I see her content, because she has such a positive aura," one follower says, "She's definitely amazing in encouraging followers to spread love and happiness. I've watched her since I was twelve, and one of my favorite aspects of her channel is that she always promotes positivity, especially given some of the toxic traits in social media."
Impact on Personal Life
"Social Media has definitely taken an impact on my personal life," Sydney tells us, "I actually even moved to Los Angeles- for my YouTube- from my home in Minnesota. That was certainly a big step and a milestone in my life." As for living in L.A., Sydney reflects and says, "I think something that was unexpected to me was how small it felt. Once I got the grasp of the town and area, I was really comfortable with navigating things."
Additionally, many of her social media peers reside in LA, which is notably a social media stardom hotspot, and this has helped Sydney gain new friendships. "With meeting people, you're introduced to a lot of connections," says Sydney, "This person knows someone, who knows another, and it goes on. It's also incredibly nice and supportive, because they do the same thing you do, which creates a sense of understanding."
With her platform, Sydney has created a video project called 'Dear Teenage Girl' to advocate a topic she would love to shed more light upon.
In this video, she spreads the postive message of self-love; with the music, she reminds others that they are enough and that they do not need to compare themselves with others on social media.
Specifically, she would like to advocate for higher level education. While many influencers are noted to opt to skip further education to focus on their internet stardom, Sydney has decided to attend college. "I'll be attending Chapman University in California," says Sydney.
As for further education, Sydney believes both paths to be valid. "It really depends on your own journey and plans, but as for me, learning more was something that was a priority of mine for a long time. I wish to fulfill that and achieve my degree(s), and show that managing college studies and maintaining a YouTube channel can be possible. I'll definitely be highlighting my college adventures, such as 'A Day in the Life', what I eat and such, if the coronavirus doesn't cause any impediments."
Recently, I've been talking and sharing about this on my platform a lot. There's an anti-college movement, at least amongst influencers, to not go to college. I've definitely been putting my own two cents out there, and I think college can work, if you can do it and afford it. It can be a great opportunity. I want to let others know that it's a good thing to be educated, to be smart, and to want to learn. I want to show them the importance of education and valuing education, instead of overlooking it.
A Side to Sydney You May Not Know
When asked of what may be a side to her people may not know about, Sydney responds, "I feel people mostly know about me, as I try my best to make my content as authentic and real as possible. But, one thing they may not know is the business aspect of me."
On what she wants her followers to know about her, Sydney says, "I'd want others to know that I really try my best to be as warm hearted and genuine as I can. I have a big heart and I'm caring of others. I just want to be a positive light to people, and for people to know me genuinely as a person."
The Good and The Bad
"I definitely do get a fair share of negative comments," says Sydney, "It took time, but now, I don't have too much trouble ignoring them. The positive comments really overflood them as well, which is really sweet."
As for the positives, Sydney expresses how much appreciation she feels for the positive aspects of her social media platforms: "I am so happy to share my videos and that my audience enjoys them," she says, "I am also very grateful for all the opportunities I have recieved from social media. One major one that has had a major impact on my life would be my move to Los Angeles. Social media brings on a lot of chances that couldn't have happened otherwise. Another positive aspect would be how I can link up with other people, whether it be other creators/influencers or my fans."
Sydney's Role Model & Favorite Fellow YouTuber
"I have a lot of role models, so this is pretty hard to answer! I would say someone I look up to is Gary Vee. He's an entrepeuner and incredibly successful. I don't resonate with everything he says, but I do with most of the things he talks about such as how to be a hard worker, how one should have a passion in order to be successful. One would be that you have to have a good reason for wanting to work hard, because otherwise, it won't work. I think he's very smart in that area, and his teaching of not caring of what others think of you is meaningful to me."
When asked who her personal favorite YouTuber was, Sydney answers, "I like Cody Ko's videos! I think he's really funny."
Goals for the Future
As for the future, Sydney Serena has some big dreams: "I want to go into business," she says, "After all, it is what I'm majoring in. I plan to major in business and marketing, and plan to work for a company, or even start up my own, when it comes to a career."
For Sydney, choosing her major came pretty naturally to her. "I kind of already had a foot in the business/marketing side with my YouTube channel," she says, "Additionally, I love marketing and how it works. I've studied how I name my videos, how I promote them, and from there, what takes off the most. So, having a social media platform has benefited me in early practice."
Advice from Sydney
I want to tell others to not think about what others think of you. I get it- it's so cliché, everyone says that- but it really is incredibly helpful in making your life positive. At the end of the day, people actually don't care as much as you think they do. Don't let their perception of you get to you, because they don't matter as much.
Also, coming from someone who's in the whole social media field, I often times take breaks, because it can really suck you in. And that's okay. Doing what is best for you is really the best thing you can do. What I do is to turn my time more towards books, spending time with my family and friends. Focus on the present life instead of the scrolling.
10 Quick Q's with Sydney Serena
Favorite Food: I love acai bowls.
Favorite Movie: The movie Mission Impossible is one of my personal favorites!
Secret Talent People Don’t Know You Have: I don't know if it's a secret, but I play the piano!
Dream Travel Destination: It would be amazing to go to Paris.
Hobbies: I love hanging out with family!
Dream Brand to Collaborate With: This is a hard one, I have so many! But I would definitely love to work with Brandy Melville, Urban Outfitters, and Glossier.
Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?: I see myself attending college and graduating with a degree. I hope to venture out with a career in the field of business and marketing. I'd also love to meet more people that aren't in social media to broaden my horizons. I want to learn more and become more well rounded.
What is a Career You Would Be Interested In If You Weren’t Doing What You’re Doing Now?: I really wanted to go to school for diatetics and nutrition- if I wasn't doing what I'm doing now, I'd probably shoot for something along those lines.
A Personality Trait You Have That You Like the Most About Yourself: I like that I am very genuine and authentic.
What Is Something From Your Fanbase You Appreciate The Most: I really love how sweet they are, and seeing their positive messages brighten my day!
Thank you Sydney for your interview and sharing your story & insight!
All photos by Kate-Yeonjae Jeong, 2020