When Hannah Hart posted her first “My Drunk Kitchen” video, she didn’t imagine that it would become an Internet hit. Nor that she would become famous over it. She was working as a proof-reader at a translation firm, and wanted to be a language teacher or an interpreter.
But after just a few videos, she was interviewed for a piece in TIME Magazine. That article, she told Motto, helped give her the confidence to continue with her new, untrodden path. Now, Hart has over a million Twitter followers and a robust YouTube following, along with a new web series with Barilla called While the Water Boils.
Motto spoke with Hannah Hart about her career path and personal passions.
Motto: What advice would you have for women who are thinking about changing their careers, but are unsure about how to take that step?
Hannah Hart: You should always follow what is bringing you joy, or pay attention to that. It’s hard to give advice about going into new media because everything is changing so quickly. But it’s a matter of paying attention to how you’re feeling and your passions—and letting yourself pursue those passions is a lifelong lesson. It doesn’t have to be about celebrity and fame, it can even just be a hobby! We put way too much attention on the purpose of something rather than the passion behind it.
You quit your full-time job and went into this totally new space. Did you ever have any doubts? How did you deal with that?
Many moments of doubts. There was no path before me—new media is ‘you’re paving it as you go’ so the doubt was there just as much. You have to check in with yourself and I think you know if you’re on the right track for you personally. It’s not about material success, it’s about this making you feel purposeful.
Your new series gets you one-on-one with celebrities talking about their career paths and passions. What are you passionate about?
We’re kind of spoon-fed the idea that being top dog, being independent, that’s what makes people happy. But it’s really just listening to yourself and finding what makes you happy and taking moments to enjoy your life… If there’s anything I’m really passionate about, it’s compassion for other people. I love people. We all have so much we can share and learn from each other.
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How do you feel about being a role model for the LGBT community?
I’ve learned a lot. I’m happy to be the LGBT role model. I didn’t have that and I never wanted [my sexuality] to be a secret because there’s no secrecy behind it. The LGBT community and the response has helped me grow as a person and be accountable to people watching the channel. My responsibility to them is to be mindful and authentic, and expand my own horizons in defense of the community.
I gotta tell you, I feel so blessed. I get to feel so meaningful. It’s like when people are readily telling you what impact you’ve had on their lives. I remember after my video where I officially came out, I got a letter from one dad from Nebraska or something. He said, “My family and I love watching your channel, we never knew you were gay and now you’re giving us something to talk about.” My coming out was helping start the conversation [about homosexuality] for them. We’re people first and labels second, or third, or fourth.
You’ve started branching out from YouTube into books, TV shows and movies—far different from what you had started off as! What would you want to tell the Hannah of 2010 about where you are today?
It was such an interesting time. I could have never predicted that it would have allowed me, taken me to where I am now. If I could, I would say to that Hannah, “It’s OK for you to follow your heart and your dreams.”
This interview was edited and condensed.