Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
David Alvarez was going to be a pediatrician.
Then, three and a half years into his undergrad, he had to tell his parents he was going to drop out of school.
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But the news came with a little bit of consolation: Univision had taken notice of Alvarez’s booming social media presence, and wanted to sign him for channel management.
“[My parents] were like, ‘Oh, well, in that case, they see something for sure. You should definitely do it,'” Alvarez says.
Family is everything to Alvarez, and having his parents’ official blessing was the push he needed to make content his career.
But let’s back up for a sec.
Though Alvarez wasn’t a full-time content creator at the time, he’d already gotten plenty of experience in the shoes of a career YouTuber. His childhood best friend’s cousin is Jorge Muñoz (who has just under 500,000 subscribers) and Muñoz is friends with SUPEReeeGO (who has 3.4 million subscribers). Alvarez and the rest of his friend group had always played around with making comedy videos together, and when he got the chance to talk to Muñoz, he pounced.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve always loved comedy.’ I went up to him because I’ve known him since I was five, but he was an older cousin, so he didn’t really talk to us, but he was always nice. I was like, ‘Dude, let me write for you. I would love to just write a sketch,'” Alvarez says.
Muñoz took his pitches right there, and asked Alvarez to write a script. Alvarez worked through the weekend, sent the script, and Muñoz liked it enough to bring him in the following Monday to film together.
These days, Alvarez and Muñoz are roommates, and still regularly collaborate. Muñoz helps Alvarez edit–which is good, because Alvarez is doing bigger and bigger productions lately, gathering as many as 30 people together in white cyclorama studios to do things like blind date each other based on their Halloween costumes. These white cyc videos have become the bread and butter of his long-form and short-form strategy.
And, considering he’s now hitting over 80 million views a month on YouTube, that strategy seems to be working out.
We’ll let him tell you all about it below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: Give me a little bit of background about you and where you’re from and what you did pre-YouTube.
David Alvarez: My name is Jose David Alvarez. I go by David. My parents are from Guadalajara, Jalisco. I’m Latino. I grew up very Latino. I grew up in Bellflower, California. I have four brothers, so we grew up in an all-boy home, super fun. My parents were super hardworking. They’re paycheck-to-paycheck type of parents, but they were always there for us. My mom at times worked two to three jobs. My dad worked really hard in construction.
They supported us through it all. They put us in private school, which I loved. A lot of people would say that private school would be boring or lame, but I loved it. I loved it particularly when I was young because I didn’t have a lot of clothes, so private school meant I could just wear the same uniform. That was awesome. I grew up with all boys in my house, so it was just an easy transition and met all my best friends there. The school that I went to, I went to St. John Bosco and the junior high and preschool and kindergarten, all that. The previous grades were right next to it. We just transferred over. Knew my best friends there, I still, to this day hang out with them. One of them just got married. I was his best man. I was very family-oriented growing up. Very friend/family-oriented in the way that my friends are like my family.
I was always somewhat of a class clown, me and my friends. We loved creating these bits and scenarios. We wouldn’t really do pranks. We just did our own thing, and we thought things were funny, and we watched a lot of TV. We slowly started doing videos. My mom was a doctor in Mexico, and so was my grandpa. Growing up, my parents wanted me to do a medical thing, whether it’s a nurse or a doctor, but I love kids, still love kids, and I wanted to be a pediatrician. I went to Cal State Long Beach, and I did three and a half years of biology with an emphasis in physiology. I was a pretty good student. Wasn’t the best, but I made friends with all the smartest people and they loved me and I made them laugh so they helped me copy off of them, or they helped me with my labs and stuff like that, and in exchange, I made them laugh and I took them out.
No, it was a really great relationship. They helped me. I was a pretty good student, I want to say a solid B student. Then there was a point where my best friend growing up, his name is Louis, his cousin was JRMun0z AKA Jorge Muñoz. He was a YouTuber. He knew this guy named SUPEReeeGO who had millions of views, millions of followers. Jorge was starting up. I think at the time he had maybe 50,000 or 100,000 on YouTube. I was like, “Oh my god, I’ve always loved comedy.” I went up to him because I’ve known him since I was five, but he was an older cousin, so he didn’t really talk to us, but he was always nice.
I was like, “Dude, let me write for you. I would love to just write a sketch.” At a party, I just pitched him a bunch of ideas and he was like, “Whoa, slow down, kid. Just write one and send it over.” I was like, “Cool, I’ll send you a script.” I wrote over that weekend, I sent it to him and he was like, “Great, come over Monday. Let’s film it. It’s funny.” I went over, I filmed it, and in that first video, he literally just said, “Hey, man, you should just start your own YouTube channel. I think you’re really funny and talented. I think you’ll go places really far so I’ll support you.”
I was like, “Oh, sweet. That’s awesome.” Like I said, we grew up in a low-income family, so I had FAFSA and my colleges paid for and they actually gave me money to buy my books and stuff like that each semester. That semester, he told me right before I got my FAFSA check, too. I was like, “All right, so what do I need?” He was like, “You need a laptop to edit your videos. You need a camera, maybe a light or two, but pretty much a camera and laptop.” I was like, “Awesome. I’m going to use all my FAFSA money and I’m not going to buy books and I’m just going to make PDF copies of everything.” That whole semester, I wasted my FAFSA check for a camera and a laptop.
Tubefilter: I don’t know if wasted is the right word.
David Alvarez: Not wasted, but I spent it. Yes, you’re right. I spent my FASFA check. Luckily my two best friends were all in my same classes that semester, and we all had study groups. It wasn’t that big of a deal for me to just be like, “Let me borrow this book,” or, “Hey, can I go make copies of this chapter?” Every week I would make copies of every single chapter. It was a big hassle, and it was actually really expensive. I should have just bought more books. It was a poor choice financially. I should have just bought more books.
I just ate from home. I really didn’t do much that semester, but I really started doing YouTube. Through Jorge, I met Super Ego, Mikey Boltz, who all really helped me out and supported me in my dream. The dream was still always to become a doctor. I still really wanted to be a pediatrician because I love kids but then my grades went from, I was a solid B student to a B- and then a C+, and then a C.
Tubefilter: Well, you’re trying to do all these videos at the same time and do college. That’s a huge task.
David Alvarez: It was. At the same time, I was the new kid on the block with that YouTube group. They’re all super supportive, but I really had to prove myself. I was writing for everyone. I was pitching ideas. I was filming for them, directing for them. They essentially got a new guy, just really excited for everything. I was there all the time, and I was full YouTube so my grade started suffering.
Then one semester, I finally got my first C- and I was like, “Oh, man, I think I might fail this class. I have to retake it.” I really just decided to go on YouTube. At the time, Univision which a very Latino company, asked to be my MCN, which is essentially managed me and my parents. They supported me too, but with the second, like, “Oh my god, Univision wants this. I knew my boy made it. They see it.” That was a big, “Hey, I know I’m going to drop out, but Univision wants to sign me so that’s exciting.”
Tubefilter: There’s a consolation!
David Alvarez: Yes, they were like, “Oh, well, in that case, they see something for sure. You should definitely do it.” The goal was always to support my family in one way or another. I started doing YouTube full-time. I made a lot of friends, and I was always growing slowly. My love for directing and producing and writing was growing more. I got the chance to write for really big YouTubers like the Merrell Twins or Alex Wassabi, or just people of that nature, Dietrix, people that I just really admired and really respected in the space. It was really telling for me that even though my numbers weren’t exactly where I’d like them to be, I was always grateful where I was.
To me, it was just more about the views and the subscriptions. They wasn’t the end-all for me. It was more like, “Hey, a lot of people are respecting me. They consider me their friend. They consider I’m good at what I’m doing.” It was really rewarding for me. I realized also, I love helping out my friends. My ex would say, “You’re an obliger,” because I would get more gratitude in helping my friends than doing my own YouTube. A lot of that was true. If my video hit 100,000, I was like, “Whoa that was exciting,” but if I wrote and directed a sketch for someone else and it hit 100,000 equal views, I was so pumped. I was like, “Oh my god, we did it. Let’s go.” They were excited.
For a while, I was doing YouTube and it was pretty like I hit a plateau, I feel like. Maybe about two years ago, I had an idea of doing a video and I saw Jubilee, a channel that had an idea and I was like, “You know what? I can do this in my own way with my own friends.” I really started doing these white cyc studio videos. I really just bet on myself and my friends on them being funny and me doing it in a unique, or me doing certain videos in a white cyc and having to spend all this money, renting out a studio, renting out cameramen, a sound guy. I was like, “I feel like I can make these really funny and I don’t really want to try these type of videos.”
A lot of my friends weren’t doing that stuff at the time, so I was scared that I was going to lose all this money. I was red in the wow for a little bit but the videos really started taking off and I started gaining an audience. Just started taking off and I would just film these videos with my friends and people that I thought were funny and had a certain type of character. My goal was always to make entertaining videos that people can just enjoy. At the time, I think it was the beginning of COVID or it was right before, and I was just right around there. I was like, “I want to give something to people that we could all enjoy.”
My content before was around 8 to 10 minutes and I was like, “Oh, I’m going to do 25, 30-hour-long videos to give some people something to do.” They started taking off and I started doing well and by the grace of God and supported my friends. My girlfriend really believed in me, my family. I work a lot with my brothers too. My brother was my AD, my assistant director, for a really long time. He helped me write sketches. My roommate, Jorge, the first guy who told me to start a YouTube video, the one I told you about, he’s still my roommate to this day. He helps me a lot. He edits my videos a lot of the time now too.
It was full circle. I really stayed close to the people that I loved and cared that I thought were talented that I respected and gained their respect. It’s been a wild and a fun ride.
Tubefilter: What made you pick the white cyc videos? What made that the direction you wanted to go?
David Alvarez: Well, I just feel like I was always the guy who wanted to always up the quality of anything even though I didn’t know how. When we would do sketches back in the day, for example, everyone was filming on a Canon T2i and I would be like, “We should upgrade to Canon T3i, guys. We should really invest in it.” At the time I didn’t really understand that maybe I could have just bought a better lens. I was like, “How do we make those shots blurry in the background,” which I later figured out was an f-stop and it was called bokeh or whatever. I was like, “Everyone has Rode mics. Maybe we should get Rodes.” I just Googled it. Those are personal mics.
Sometimes people listen to me. At least for my stuff, I would always be like, “Hey, I just bought these Rodes. I just invested in them. Let’s try them,” or “I bought this new lens. Let’s figure out how we can get better at comedy. Let’s figure out the rules.” I was always trying to up my production value and just value in general even behind-the-scenes producing things. I saw a few of these white cyc videos from different channels and I thought these are great. A lot of them are just people casting people that don’t know each other.
I was like, “You know what? I think this would be really funny with a group of friends that know each other together.” My group of friends, we all love each other, but we tease each other. We know each other’s flaws, so we pick at them in a very cute way. For example, I’m short. People make fun of my height, but I also make fun of my height all the time. I call myself a short king. I love it. We’re like, “Oh, let’s get all my friends together and I think it would be really fun and interesting to see.” It was just like, “Oh, I want to see if there’s a proof and concept kind of thing.” I just wanted to see if it would work.
Even if the first few videos didn’t do as magical as I thought, I saw the vision and I was like, “I think these videos are really fun and they’re more entertaining to what we were all doing at the time which was sit down videos in front, on a couch, in a camera and going like, “Hey, we should do the chubby bunny challenge. I was like, “We should grow a little bit.”
I was really inspired by my friends Kian and Jc, who had started a reality show on their YouTube channel that I got to be a part of. The last season I was their assistant director and those guys always inspired me. They were always thinking of bigger and better things. They got this really big crew. They invested tens of thousands of dollars, probably hundreds of thousands of dollars on a show because they had a vision, so they also gave me the light to be like, “Oh, you should really invest in yourself, and if you believe in yourself.”
@davidalvareeezyshe instantly regretted this hahaha♬ original sound – David Alvarez
Tubefilter: It’s nice to hear you talk so much about collaboration. I really feel like there’s still many creators who feel like they have to go it alone, or that by doing a lot of collaborations, it’s not really “their” work. In reality collaborating with other creators can be incredibly rewarding, and teach you a lot.
David Alvarez: I got lucky. Obviously, we had to weed through some bad ones, but the people that I surround myself I genuinely think are really great people, super genuine, super loving. I hang out with different groups of, some people would say different YouTube groups. My friends from this YouTube group, that YouTube group, this YouTube group, but they’re all really great people. L.A., as cliche as it is, you really got to find these gems around here, and luckily I found a lot of people that I personally respect, that I 100% know that they’re great people and are supportive and mentors in a lot of ways.
I think we all help each other and help each other in filming. When I need someone there they’re there at the drop of a hat or guidance on like, “Hey, what do you think I should title this, or how do you think I should go about my channel?” Everyone’s really supportive. It’s not like no one really gate keeps anything which is nice.
Tubefilter: I’m curious, you’ve said that you like working with kids a lot. Have you thought about doing anything to mentor younger creators?
David Alvarez: Well, I’m 31, and I do hang out with younger influencers that are in our group, like 21, 22, 23, and any questions or guidance…I don’t want to say I’m their mentor or anything, but I do like to think that if they ever need anything, I’m there for them. They were just starting YouTubers when I met them too. Just started a YouTube channel. Just started a collab channel. “Hey, how should I go about this? Can you help me produce this?”
I’ve been there for them and I love doing that stuff because it’s so exciting because I hit all those feats. My first 1K I totally remember in college even being in a party bragging about how I had 1,000 subs. You’re hitting 10K, 25K, 50K, 100K, and I helped a lot of our friends do that as well. Hit these personal feets and the first 100K is so special and stuff like that. Even your first 10K. Obviously, even your first K, you get that first letter, it’s so awesome. I’ve been there for a lot of our friends and it’s a great feeling helping people start their journey.
Tubefilter: I noticed you started these white cyc videos and then you also started pulling a lot of Shorts from that. How are you balancing short-form and long-form? How has short-form fit into your overall strategy over the last couple of years?
David Alvarez: My bread and butter was always YouTube. I’m a good editor. I just take really, really long. When Shorts and TikTok came out, obviously, I knew the value of creating these short videos, editing my longer videos to make them shorter, to repurpose them on stuff like that. It took me a while to finally hop on the Shorts and TikToks and Reels and all that stuff. I just needed some help, and I hired my buddy who helps me. We talk about, “Where should we cut these videos? Let’s create 10 videos, 10 Shorts to put on YouTube from the bigger YouTube video.” It’s been helping out a lot actually.
Obviously, it’s also extra expense that I was like, “Oh, I don’t know if I have it in my budget, but maybe let’s just bet on ourselves again.” Maybe I’ll be in the red a little bit because I’m hiring my friend and you always have to pay people what they’re worth. To me, I don’t do a lot of homie discounts on my end. I’m just like, “Let’s pay you what you’re worth.” I was like, “All right, whatever. Let’s do these 10 Shorts per video.” They’re worth it in the long run because you get eyes. YouTube Shorts is essentially TikTok in the sense where it’ll push your video to an algorithm.
I’ve personally had a YouTube Short that has hit over, I think 30 million views or something. The great thing about YouTube, you can see the analytics and I’ve gained let’s say 20,000 subscribers just off that one Short. It says, “People started following you after watching this Short,” which is crazy because I don’t get those numbers from a regular YouTube video. Even though the money’s not there, essentially, the views and the way people subscribe is there.
Tubefilter: Do you feel like though you see those people come in and actually contribute to your community? Do they watch other videos? Do you see them transition to long-form?
David Alvarez: Yes, I think the older I got or a little bit more, the one thing I realized it’s like, “I’m going to create these videos. Do I want to create a super core audience that only wants to follow and react to like me or do I want to create these evergreen videos that anyone can watch?” Not so nichey in the sense where people are just watching for me. It’s people are watching because anyone can watch this and they can understand the comedy or the entertainment value. If they like me as the host, then that’s just a really big plus.
I forget, I think Aaron Burris, told me this. He said, he used this word evergreen, video should be evergreen in the sense where they’re always generating views, whether they’re from five years ago or now. My videos, for example, a blind dating video can be seen five years from now. One that I filmed two years ago, people are still going to watch it to today because it’s just still people trying to connect with people, versus me trying to do a trend right now. It probably won’t pop. It won’t do well in a year from now. A lot of those people that do subscribe do end up watching. You can follow YouTube analytics, you can see where they started watching this video and then they went to that video.
I’ve really started, tried to create videos that if a random person who doesn’t know me clicks in, they watch a video and they go, “This guy is funny and I like this dating video and I like these people. Let’s see the next one,” and it’s still me as a host. It’s still different people. Some people are the same, some people are not. People will still slowly fall in love with me and my group of friends and the people that are in the videos but are still super engaged and they can essentially watch any of my videos just as a regular TV show on just click anything and if this looks entertaining, just keep watching it.
Tubefilter: Can you walk me through what’s your strategy now in terms of how often are you trying to produce a video? Walk me through the process from beginning to publication.
David Alvarez: I don’t necessarily have a schedule. I’m very particular on my edits. For the most part, I do the bulk of the edits. I think when you’re creating these shows…I’ll start from the beginning. I come up with an idea and I have a production team that I work with very closely, Team Playback. They’ve been a great help throughout these last two years. We work really great together and I have my producer Jill, and my brother who’s an AD. I just come up with some ideas and I’ll pitch. For the most part, I’ll come up with an idea for someone that I know that I think, “Hey, I think you would kill at this idea. Me putting you in front of X amount of people and doing this,” or something like that.
I come up with a title first for a video. I go, “How would I film this?” Then we start producing it. I set up a date. I book a studio. I book my production team. I book my people and then I start reaching out to people to see if they’re interested in being in the video, explain to them. I film three videos in a day at a studio. It’s a 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM day. I’m there all day with my friends. We have a great time. It’s a lot of hard work, super stressful. At times, I have 30 people come on set. A lot of the times, out of those 30 people. I maybe know five at this point.
We’re doing a lot of casting now online. We do a lot of Instagram casting. A lot of people are reaching out to us, influencers that are like, “Hey, I saw your video. We would love to be in it.” I check out their stuff and I’m like, “Oh, this person’s really funny. We would love to have you on,” which is great. What makes our work a lot easier if people are excited to be on the video versus me, in the beginning, pitching my personal friends, like, “Hey, I have this idea.” Now, people really want to be involved. We film through videos that are fun. I get my roommate, Jorge, to do the string out. A string out is essentially we filmed one video for two hours. A lot of that stuff is set up or me. Like, “Let’s run that back,” or something like that.
He cuts the video down from two hours to let’s say an hour. He takes out the fluff and then I take it from there. I’m really particular with my editing, which takes a long time. I’m currently figuring out who I need to hire, an editor and stuff because, at this point, I want to pump out more videos.
Tubefilter: I was just going to say, do you have any help?
David Alvarez: I was always more a quality over quantity guy, which has been really successful in the past, but I think now, I always think things come and go, and my success can easily be something like that. I’m just trying to create as much entertaining stuff where I can save up enough money and buy my parents a house. I want to live with them. That’s the goal.
Right now, it’s taking me a while to edit, and I post whenever I think the video is ready. Not really, necessarily, “Oh, I need to post on Tuesdays” and stuff. I’m a little older and I like enjoying my friends and my girlfriend and my family, so I like to rationalize me being lazy a lot. I’m like, “You know what? I haven’t seen my brother in a week. Let’s go get dinner and spend a half day with him.”
Even though I love creating videos and stuff like that, and I’m a super hard worker because it takes me a long time to edit these videos, right now I’m for sure finding all these editors or an editor to really help me out so I can produce a video every six days or something.
Tubefilter: Got it. What else are you working on or looking forward to over the next year or so?
David Alvarez: I’m creating a lot of original shows. I don’t know if I can necessarily talk about them, but I’m working closely with a couple of buddies of mine to create these original shows. Original live shows as well. One live show where I want to do it at a theater and it’s a comedy show, essentially. A very unique show that I think is going to be great. And then just some more original content on my YouTube channel, which you’ll be able to see on a Snapchat show or across all platforms. Continue to create these videos alongside my friends and family because I love it when we all succeed together.
Tubefilter: Is there anything else you wanted to talk about? Anything else you feel like readers should know about you?
David Alvarez: No, not necessarily. I think if you want to get into the YouTube space or the creator space, I would say, guys, it’s really saturated right now. You really got to do your homework and really ask yourself, what can I bring to the table that no one else can? Really think about it, but also just take a leap of faith in you and whatever you’re trying to create. You should just take a chance, because I did, and it really worked out.
Also, be realistic. For some people, it doesn’t work out, but that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give up. Maybe you should change your content or maybe do some more homework. I do think if people want to create things, they should. It takes time and energy and effort, but always just try to grow and better your content.