YouTuber Interview – Akilah Hughes (Obviously!)

With a beautiful coif of natural hair like a crown atop her head and a quirky personailty that’s just as entertaining as it is engaging, Akilah Hughes has quickly become one of my favorite YouTubers – one I discovered entirely on accident. I managed to discover this 24-year-old comedian through her Disney College Program Bucket List video, which warranted an instant subscribe to her Smoothiefreak channel – around 33k subscribers. Currently residing in Brooklyn, NYC, Akilah continues to produce amazing, hilarious content. Her First Black Girlfriend video has received well over a million views, rightfully so.

1. How did you get started making YouTube videos?

Back in 2007, a friend of mine started making videos/vlogging in lieu of updating her awesome Livejournal blog. I thought it was so much more interesting and entertaining, and so I started posting embarrassing crappy vlog videos on my own channel. Luckily, I’ve gotten much better since then.

2. How do you define a “geek”? Do you consider yourself one?

Hmm, well, in my experience, geek has a connotation of expertise to the nth degree. I think I’m probably more nerdy than geeky, because I don’t know how much of an expert I am on anything particularly sub-culturey. Like, I don’t even know how parts of my body work, and it’s my body. What’s that appendix even doing in there?

3. How do you get the ideas for your videos, especially your features like Tipsy Book Review?

I have some of the most naturally hilarious friends in the entire world, so every time we hang out, I get inspired by the derailing of a conversation into something really strange. The idea for Meet Your First Black Girlfriend came from a conversation over dinner about my fears of meeting my then-boyfriend’s family for the first time over Thanksgiving break. Tipsy Book Review is my way of rewarding myself for reading books that I’ve been dying to read. Books are better with booze!

4. Your First Black Girlfriend video has reached a highly successful million views. What do you contribute to the success of this funny video?

I think it’s really relatable to a huge group of people. For Black girls especially, it speaks to the growing number of us who are in interracial relationships, or growing up in the suburbs, or dealing with being a minority in an area that has very very few. It would have spoken to me when I was the only Black kid in most of my classes in high school.

5. Is YouTube your day job? If not, what is?

Comedy is not my full-time gig yet, but I’m working on it. I spend my days doing social media marketing for an agency in TriBeCa. It’s great, because I find myself getting better about marketing my own stuff in the process.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’m going to be on TV and in movies unless I get hit by a rogue subway train or something.

7. Do you have any advice for anyone looking to start a YouTube channel?

Just do it! I remember hesitating doing videos because I didn’t think they were as good as someone else’s, or I didn’t have the best equipment, or have some big series idea, and truly, I wasted a lot of time that way. No matter when you start, you’re only going to get better if you keep putting stuff out there. Don’t be scared, it’s just the internet.

8. What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I spend a lot of time reading and writing. I used to absolutely abhor reading when I was a kid (which is why I’m the only 20-something who hasn’t read Harry Potter yet), but now I love it. It’s how I decompress. My dream is to write a book that people can relate to on a deep level. I’m no Nora Ephron, but I feel like I still have some good things to say.

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