Welcome to Creators Going Pro, where in partnership with Semaphore — a creator-focused family of companies providing business and financial services to social media professionals — we profile professional YouTube stars who have hit it big by doing what they love. Each week, we’ll chat with a creator about the business side of their channel, including identifying their Semaphore Moment — the moment they truly went pro.
For Summer McKeen, 2020 is full of Endless possibilities.
The 20-year-old vlogger debuted the third season of her Snapchat original, Endless, earlier this week. Previously titled Endless Summer, the shortform series was Snapchat’s first reality show, and is produced by the folks behind Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Since 2018, it’s been chronicling McKeen’s life as an influencer in five-minute bites, focusing on her relationships and featuring sun-soaked shots of her California town.
But this season, things are changing. Just before filming, McKeen said goodbye to beachy Laguna and hello to New York City. The series’ third season follows her as she adjusts to a new coast and a new life, plus dives into big city opportunities like interning at Cosmopolitan.
Changing locales also gave McKeen and Snapchat a chance to change the series’ name. They cut it from Endless Summer to just Endless, a shift McKeen indicates is emblematic of her approach to content creation this year. “It’s not just the Summer that’s endless,” she tells Tubefilter. “It’s the trials, growth, learning, achievements…Life’s opportunities are endless.”
Working with Cosmo isn’t the first time McKeen has snagged said opportunities in the beauty world: she’s worked with top companies like Maybelline and Nudestix to produce lines of McKeen-branded makeup products. She already has plans to develop more projects with new and familiar brands, but what she’s devoting much of her attention to this year is developing her YouTube presence. YouTube is where McKeen got her start as a lifestyle influencer, and she now has more than 2.3 million subscribers on the platform, where she uploads a new video each Friday.
In 2020, “I’m really working on exploring and taking advantage of the opportunities and possibilities of being a YouTuber and content curator,” she says. “I think it’s time to go outside of my comfort zone a little.”
You can see the first episode of Endless, and our chat with McKeen, below.
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about each of you! Where are you from? What did you do in the days before YouTube?
Summer McKeen: My name is Summer Mckeen, and I’m from Eugene, Oregon. I graduated from high school in 2017 and moved to Laguna, Calif., a couple months after to continue my career as a content creator. Before YouTube, I had a regular life. I went to school, ran cross country, played lacrosse, soccer, and danced. I even took some acting classes. I’ve always loved being on camera and entertaining. My sisters and I made up skits and would film them and show the videos to our family.
Tubefilter: What made you decide to launch a YouTube channel? What do you think YouTube offers you, as a content creator, to help you grow your platform?
SM: I watched a lot of YouTube growing up. It was back when YouTube was used to just upload a funny video of a cat or a “ghost caught on camera”…I loved watching those. I was really inspired by the “beauty gurus” on YouTube and the normal girls that I could relate to. They’d show how they got ready for a football game and stuff like that. I think YouTube offers great ways to grow your platform. I also love the events like VidCon, where you can meet fellow creators.
Tubefilter: You’re chatting with us now because season three of your Snapchat show Endless is about to premiere. Tell us a little about Endless and why you love it.
SM: Yes!! One of the reasons why I love Endless is because I feel like viewers who may already know who I am get to see me through a completely different lens. The drama of my life is highlighted in the series, and the relationships I may not always share on my own social media are shown. It’s a totally different form of content that’s honestly kind of groundbreaking, so that’s really exciting to be a part of. I feel like this season is a bit more mature and more career-focused. I want to show girls they can be a boss even if they’re a young girl in a big world.
Tubefilter: This season marks a title change from Endless Summer to simply Endless. Why did you decide to switch things up?
SM: Yeah, the title is different! That is actually because we were not the first to title a show Endless Summer, and it’s probably best to have our own, original title that is unique to our show. I feel like it may fit the show better, too, because it’s not just the Summer that’s endless. It’s the trials, growth, learning, achievements…Life’s opportunities are endless.
Tubefilter: Stepping back a bit, how did you hook up with Snapchat for Endless? What were the early days of your partnership like? How did you conceptualize the show?
SM: Bunim/Murray, the production company for the show, asked if I could come meet with them to talk about my life for a potential series! I read that and was like, “Whaaaat?! They produce Keeping Up with the Kardashians and so many other reality shows!!” I was super excited. We met at their HQ, which was super intimidating, and I told them all about my life. Then they came back a few weeks later to film a test episode. We didn’t know exactly where it was going to go. We filmed a day in Laguna with my friends and sent it off to a few places. Snapchat was one of those places. They really liked it, and wanted to come out with vertically shot shows. We were one of the very first to dip our toes into this world, and all learning together. We collaborated on the story outline of the series and went from there!
Tubefilter: Episodes are five minutes. How long do they take to film? How much time do you spend “on set”?
SM: The episodes may be really short, but that’s because they’re cut down a lot. Sometimes there are whole scenes we shot that aren’t even included. It takes about 12 to 15 full days to film…sometimes a little longer.
Tubefilter: What was that Semaphore Moment for you—the first time you realized you were a professional creator?
SM: That’s really hard to put my finger on, because I didn’t look at what I was doing as a “profession” for a really long time. Perhaps when I moved out of my parents’ house into my own apartment in Southern California and would go to L.A. to work was when I started feeling like a professional. I just live life the best I can, not thinking too far into the fact that I am considered a “brand.”
Tubefilter: You recently snagged an intern position at Cosmopolitan. How did that happen?
SM: While I was filming in New York for the show, I got to shoot with Cosmopolitan and spend some time in their HQ, hanging out with some pretty boss women and dying over how cool their office is. I got to feel like a part of their team for the time I was there. I ended up writing an article for them, which felt amazing because I never thought I’d be writing anything for a magazine…let alone Cosmopolitan.
Tubefilter: Something you’re very open about is mental health, particularly anxiety. Why is it important to you to be honest with your followers about experiencing anxiety?
SM: Anxiety and depression are issues that are extremely hard on a person. It actually wasn’t until about a year ago that I started experiencing them. I didn’t realize how hard it is to not let the emotions control your life until they came into mine. Life is hard, man, and it can get incredibly dark! I know how common it is to experience depression and/or anxiety, so I want to make anyone on this tough road feel like they aren’t alone!! We need to build each other up!
Tubefilter: How do you split your time between “real life,” Snapchat, and YouTube? What does the average day look like for you?
SM: Snapchat and YouTube are very much present in my “real life.” Who I am on my social media platforms is who I am in person. I don’t really make an effort to separate them unless I feel like the source of my anxiety is coming from social media. It’s always good to put your phone down and live life unplugged. I like to go on runs outside in nature to clear my mind if I’m wanting to take a break.
Tubefilter: Tell us about what else you’re up to! Any brand partnerships or sponsorships? New merch?
SM: I’ll be working with some familiar brands and people in this upcoming year! I’m really excited for my upcoming content. I’ve also began been working on some new merch. It’ll be better than ever. Watch out, 2020, I’m coming for ya!
Tubefilter: Who do you have working with you behind the scenes? An editor? What about a manager or network?
SM: Yeah! I have the same management at Scale Management (Kyle and Clayton Santillo) that I’ve had from the very start when I was 16, which is really cool. They’re so great. I have some major boss ladies on my team as well. My agent named Arleta at CAA, a really sweet publicist named Jaclyn at Shore Fire Media, and my attorney Ashley! Of course, I’m lucky enough to have a few more people who help me out behind the scenes. I really love my team. They’re the best. I have never had an editor or professional videographer, but I am actually looking for an editor right now! It’s always awesome to have some additional help.
Tubefilter: What’s your favorite part of making content for YouTube?
SM: My favorite part is that I have the freedom to show my creativity however I want, and I know I have a loyal fanbase that will support me through whatever it is I choose to do.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you? What are you building toward?
SM: I’m working on some bigger projects that involve other YouTubers. I’m super excited for them. This year, I’m really working on exploring and taking advantage of the opportunities and possibilities of being a YouTuber and content curator. I think it’s time to go outside of my comfort zone a little more. I’m building toward the production of my own company/companies…because I know I’m capable of “bigger” things like that.
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