Jack Baran Came Out on YouTube and Now He’s Taking Over the World
Jack Baran is a YouTube star, a style expert, and soon-to-be author. We sat down with the 19-year-old online phenom to talk about his plans for the future, his impact on LGBT teens today, and what made him the person he is. Read on for our interview and scroll down for amazing photos of him getting to know NYC shot by Amber Asaly.
Who are your followers?
I have a lot of younger girls that follow me and I’m trying to expand my audience so I have people my age. There are definitely people my age that do follow me but generally like female so I’m trying to also grow my male audience. Working with fashion and style is helping that because a lot of guys are starting to look at me for that help and that inspiration. I’m sure some older people follow me, like as in older than 25…
How old are you, 25?
I’m 19 but my fake ID says I’m 24, so close.
When did you start to realize you were growing a following beyond just your friends?
I’ve been through a lot of phases. When I started making YouTube videos in 2010, I was in a small community and still noticed people were following me, and at the time 20,000 subscribers was a much bigger deal. At the time, I probably gained 50,000 subscribers while making music video content with my friends. I took a YouTube break and when vlogging and personalities were the thing, I got back into it. When I went to my first Youtube convention, that was probably the start of my acceleration, and I’ve been to every convention since and making friends, collaborating and becoming part of the community definitely helped grow my audience.
I realized that it was something that I could pursue in 2013 and that was during my senior year of high school, I decided I would move and pursue YouTube and social media full time.
What was it like to come out online?
It was definitely something I felt would bring me closer to my viewers. There was a little bit of a disconnect when I could’t openly talk about my relationships or even mention genders in videos and if you meet me and were having a casual conversation, that’s definitely a topic of convo I talk about and it was difficult to not talk about that openly, and I wanted to break down that wall and talk about stories and advice and it brought me closer to my viewers and it was the final thing I was holding back about. It was ready out be out there because it could have been cool to be mysterious and not have a definitive response, but at the same time, there’s so much controversy and everyone’s going back and forth so I was like let me just give them an answer. I think it was just supposed to happen.
What was the reaction like?
It wasn’t majorly shocking at all, it was more just supportive and people were excited that I was able to talk about that and happy for me. I was really happy that I was super confident and there were obviously times in my life where I wasn’t, and there were times whew it became such a thing where it was one of the qualities of me where I was so happy and proud of, and I was so happy to talk about it. I love being gay so it was so exciting to just feel like fuck yeah, I’m gay bitches.
That was a year ago almost. Wow, I feel like it was longer than that, but it was really only a year. I feel like I was completely confident in my sexuality two and a half or three years ago, and there was a waiting period of how do I do this, when do I do it, am I ready? I wanted to make sure I was gonna feel good about myself because I knew that video was gonna get some attention. Felt good, look good, had the whole package doing any then uploaded it.
Is it less of a big deal every year?
Definitely, even since just the legalization [of gay marriage] last year, I feel like it’s becoming not a big deal at all, and people who I feel like might have never accepted that are starting to accept it now. It’s just kind of everyone got put in their place who didn’t want to open their eyes to it, and now they kind of have to. People are either becoming better at keeping their opinions to themselves or accepting it. The two of those happening at the same time our society has definitely made progress.
Also, a lot of audiences and, I don’t know people in general are very soft right now and everything is like you kind of have to tiptoe. It’s definitely something that people are not going to make big deals out of because everyone is very soft now and everyones softening up to the idea as well.
What’s your favorite recent video?
My favorite videos I’ve made recently are look-books because it combines like my favorite skills and my favorite things: music, fashion, and editing so it’s really fun. I get to choose a song, I get to choose a theme for a look-book, a get to choose an outfit and put them all together, and then I have someone film me looking cool and put me in slow-mo, and put it to music and I’ve become so articulate with my editing that I can make it really like… you can feel it when your watching something like that I make sure it goes well with the song and pay attention to the details. It’ll take me three days, four days to make and most of it is just editing. But it’s fun because I just get to combine music, fashion, editing and making myself look very cool.
How would you describe your style?
I love basics and pairing basics with a piece that is just like very out there and abstract, or I really like quality, like quality clothing. I value that when I’m shopping. I like textures, I love suede. I stick to a lot of neutral colors because I feel like most confident in it. I like to stand out, but I like to stand out with pieces like boots, I will always opt to wear boots on any occasion. They make me feel a certain type of confidence. I’ve gained a lot of confidence through taking risks with my style.
When I step out of my comfort zone, I’m attaching myself to a new piece of something I can incorporate into my wardrobe from here on out. I love that feeling of vulnerability of wearing something uncomfortable in the first them, then a little more comfy second time, and continue to expand. It started as simple as wearing a pair of boots I’ve never worn before and it’s my first pair of boots ever, any pair of boots and it’s snakeskin or python, suede, YSL boots. I feel super able to now venture into that. There’s definitely categories of clothing that I want to expand that I want to be able to wear. I built my repertoire of clothing options based on stepping out of my comfort zone. If I didn’t, I’d still be wearing stuff from high school and thats really lame.
A lot of guys don’t move beyond their high school style because they’re too scared.
Yeah, it’s like you just have to put it on. I know for a fact when I put something on, and I see something aimed like uhhh idk if I should try it! If I put it on, most of the time I’m like now that it’s on me, I can see myself in it, and figure out how to wear it or own it. It’s about being open to taking the time to experiment. I think that’s something that goes into tastemaker. I can do that with music, fashion, I can listen to a full song and decide if I like it, I have the patience to listen to a whole album and a whole playlist. That’s how I’m constantly finding new songs. I have the patience to go shopping and try on things I wouldn’t usually wear. people yeah.
What advice would you give to a guy in a style rut?
I was thinking about this the other day, and I was giving myself a speech in my head of when I’m gonna have to say it, and now I do. You have to step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never tried before once. I would say my favorite thing to do that with is shoes.
I don’t have an insane variety of pants. I feel confident in my black jeans and comfortable and I like the way they look on me. But the shoes you can go across the board, there’s so many different types. That’s something a lot of guys don’t have, is a variety of shoes. Once you get into them, it becomes addicting. That’s where I started as well. That would be my personal advice.
How do you feel about man sandals?
I don’t own any, but I feel like if I got a pedicure, I probably would wear some. I don’t know what I would wear them with. I feel like I get power from my shoes, so when I wear boots that have an inch heel that gives me a lot of power. I feel like open sandals maybe could give me a powerful feeling in a different way but I don’t know. I don’t like wearing sneakers because I feel insignificant or not big enough. I don’t know. It makes me feel like… I think that’s how I get into clubs is my boots, if I wore white converse to the club, they’d be like you look 12, but in boots, it’s like okay, you look 24. It changes my whole demeanor. I stand up straight, look more confident, hold myself better.
So many guys would look good in boots that would never try them. It gives you so much .
Any advice for a girl reading this whose boyfriend has bad style?
I think she should present him with some inspiration of looks that she could find in magazines or from her favorite celebrities. A lot of girls have their guy crush celebrities. See why you admire a guy so much, for example Harry Styles. Why girls admire him and channel it into her boyfriend. Experiment with this! It would be inspiring for a boy to hear that because if a girl likes something about another guy they might wanna try that to give them some satisfaction. Show pics of Harry, take him out shopping and get some inspiration.
Anything new you’re working on?
I think some people might be surprised by how much im going to spend getting into music. I really wanna get in the studio with a lot of my favorite artists that are really small and making their first EPs and first couple of sounds, and I want to learn a lot about that process so I can be very involved in it. I really want to [start producing own music]. Like I’ll listen to music so much, people tweet me all the time that they think my Spotify’s broken because the sound things always on. I’m like no guys, I know I’m there 24 hours a day, but I’m always there I’m always listening to music. I used to be very musical, piano, cello, all the choirs. It really was taken over by YouTube as my hobby, but I’m ready to start exploring those too.
It’s cool because I’m in contact with a lot of the artists I listen to because they tweet me to say thanks for putting me on list, and it gets me exposure. They definitely have me on their radar and a couple of them I’m into I really like.
What about the book you’re planning to start?
I don’t wanna write a YouTuber book like a YouTube memoir. That’s not really what I’m about. I guess for lack of better genre, I’d have to figure it out. It would be self help, but an enlightening inspirational book. I have a lot of insight into the time that I spent in LA, and I’ve always been very independent and been observant and aware of what’s going on around me and myself and I’ve learned so much about myself and other people and how I interact with other people and I have a lot to share. I have more to offer than entertainment on Youtube and I know that’s a great offer, but I have intelligence inside me that needs to be shared.
I said in my last video, in 2000 the population was 5 billion and now it’s like 8 billion, so that means in 15 years 3 billion, new people were born, there’s 3 billion people on the earth under 15 years old. If I can reach those people that’s so much power, we’ve already changed so much based on sexuality and equality and stuff like that, we’re gonna be so powerful because we’re gonna do so many incredible things. By the time it’s 2050, there’s gonna be way too many people on this planet. Better invest in some real estate because this is not gonna last. We’re a little screwed, but that’s why I want to reach that audience of people. The people who are under me age wise, because there’s so many of them and there’s so much power that we have. We’re going to be the next leaders. We already are but we’ll be taken seriously, and we’ll have age behind us as well. If we start off knowing that power now, we can work together a little bit better. I wanna reach all those people because those are the people who are gonna listen to me.
Necklace: Slight | Bracelet: Slight | Pink Top: Reiss | Bomber: religion | Jeans: APC | Shoes: Saint Laurent
Top: Woodhouse | Watch: Yves Saint Laurent | Joggers: Woodhouse | Boots: Yves Saint Laurent | Crown: yunotme
Photos: Amber Asaly
Styling: Joseph Frangella