Millionaires: Hannah Montoya gets the royal treatment

By 06/30/2023
Millionaires: Hannah Montoya gets the royal treatment

Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we–in partnership with content creator tool Gyre–profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each creator has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments here.

If you’ve seen Hannah Montoya‘s videos, you probably know her as fast-talking, quick-witted, wined-up New Jersey aunt Jackie. Jackie–with her hallmark Jersey accent–is Montoya’s flagship character. The one that sent Montoya viral overnight, and in the past three years, has helped her build an audience of 5 million followers across TikTok and YouTube.

We know 5 million makes us a little late marking Montoya as a millionaire, but we’re making up for that a bit by celebrating her achievement with a different kind of millionaire.


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The sort that lives in Malibu.

Because Aunt Jackie (and Montoya’s self-dubbed “multiverse” of other characters) also helped Montoya show off her vocal talents, which led to her being cast in the next season of The Royals of Malibu. The audio series, based on the book Paper Princess by Erin Watt, follows teenager Ella (played by Alyssa McKay) as she struggles to make ends meet. When a very wealthy (like, suspiciously wealthy) family steps in, she is “determined to come through it all with her soul intact,” per the show’s official description.

Montoya and McKay are both repped by The Network Effect, and became fast friends. McKay ended up coaching Montoya for a Malibu audition, and she was cast in a part for Season 2.

This role is the first thing Montoya has done since graduating college earlier this month, and she hopes it’s just the beginning of her acting adventure.

Check out our chat with her below.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tubefilter: For people who don’t know you, give me a rundown of who you are, where you’re from, and what you were up to up before getting on social media.

Hannah Montoya: Yes, absolutely. I first started out doing videos during COVID, where it was just for fun and just posting for my friends and stuff like that, primarily. I’ve done theater for a while, and it was a similar story with Alyssa McKay when it comes to the theater experience, just doing it throughout high school. I did it when I was super young and trailed off for a minute and then came back to it as a high schooler, and it was just so much fun and I made so many friends doing it. Then during college, I just focused on school and everything. COVID hit, I was super, super bored. I’d spend a lot of time just making these random clips in character, just making fun of random things in life, where if I got upset about something, I’d be like, “Okay, let’s make a video about it. Let’s channel that energy in a different way.”

It was so much fun. That was one of those things where I posted one video, went to bed, and then woke up the next morning and it had 100,000 views.

I would post on YouTube as a kid and it would never get more than three likes for, obviously, a terrible video. [laughs] I was thinking it was so good. I was like, “This is going to go so viral.” Then, yes, it didn’t, and they were just awful. I’m sure at some point I’ll find those clips, but they’re traumatizing.

Tubefilter: Do you remember what video went viral on TikTok?

Hannah Montoya: Yes! I did one of a character called the New Jersey Aunt and it was basically like your single wine-crazy aunt, very caffeinated, which I guess translates over in the real world here. It was based off a character where I did this super exaggerated accent, super exaggerated mannerisms and just different topics and scenarios I would throw her into. Overnight, that video, it was just like, “POV your New Jersey aunt comes over for Thanksgiving,” and it was just doing this super loud and obnoxious voice. It ended up going viral overnight, I guess.

Then the next morning I had a bunch of comments that were like, “Oh, can you take Aunt Jackie to Christmas? Can you see what Aunt Jackie is like if she meets your annoying little cousin?” These random scenarios. I started listening to the comments and throwing this character into those scenarios. Then it ended up being fun where I could develop it and everything. Then that ended up turning into multiple characters and this weird multiverse of people I would just dress up as and pretend I was for a while.

Tubefilter: Very cool. Did you go to college for theater, or…?

Hannah Montoya: At first, I was in college just for business. Then I went into theater for my major. It was during COVID and stuff happened. I transferred schools and credits got lost. I just went back to business and just graduated a few weeks ago, actually.

Tubefilter: Congratulations! How was your balance of things doing school on top of content creation?

Hannah Montoya: During school, at first it wasn’t very hard for me because I just loved doing social media and I got lucky where it started getting a lot more traction during the summer. At that point I was working at a waitressing job, so I would get up right before my shift around 6:00 in the morning, film two videos, and then I’d go to my shift and during my lunch break I would edit them, and it would be these 12-hour long shifts, and then just post them any break I got just hoping they would gain traction.

Then I was lucky enough where starting that next year of school, it was my actual job, and that was where I was getting some money so I could afford college, which was nice. The balance ended up being a little bit more difficult when I had actual schoolwork to do that year. It was just, I guess, becoming organized. I’ve never been an organized person, so it was just forcing me into that, because I knew I loved posting videos and I was like, “I’m going to have to make this work while passing school.” That balance is hard, but I ended up finding it, which is nice.

Tubefilter: That’s good. Then how are things changing now that you have, I’m assuming, much more time?

Hannah Montoya: Oh my goodness. Yes, drastically. It’s been really nice because I have the full day, the world is my oyster. It’s great, it’s beautiful. I got very lucky with this filming and recording for The Royals of Malibu, and being casted in the season was unbelievable to me. It was so much fun just to go in and recording. The timing was also very fortunate on my end because it was right after I graduated, that turned around immediately and it’s the first thing I’ve officially done since being out of school. It was just so much fun, and I just got back to Illinois. I’m with my family now for the weekend, but I just got back and was able to have my graduation party with my family. So it’s been really busy so far, but I’m sure it’s going to be a lot more free time.

Tubefilter: Tell me about you getting cast, because that’s a pretty big deal.

Hannah Montoya: Thank you. Definitely. Alyssa is incredible and she’s so talented, she’s just genuinely such an amazing person. We have been friends now for a minute and since we have the same manager, we’ve been a little connected there. I had an audition and I just submitted that recording and it was just one short little scene from The Royals of Malibu Season 2, as Savannah, and it was more of a casual conversation. Figuring out how to act that one out was harder. I don’t know why, but it seemed like the super emotional scenes would be a little bit easier to get into character, where this one was just super…I don’t know, it was just reading between the lines.

Alyssa, we would FaceTime, because she was in Jersey and I was in North Carolina, and we would FaceTime, and she was so sweet and so kind for doing this, but she was showing me the ropes. I’d go over the scene, she’d read the other lines and be like, “Okay, so we’re going to try this again, but how about we add a little bit more attitude to this?” “How about we tone this part down a little bit?” “What if we change it up?” She was basically a coach for a little bit there and just helped show me everything about the process to where I ended up seeing her because we had the Snapchat summit, a huge event where we ended up meeting up in person and I was able to record the actual audition submission in a self-tape with her reading the other parts, which is amazing.

She was just so great for that because she did not need to help me, but she did. So sweet for that. We submitted that together and then there ended up being a callback and that was virtual, over Zoom, and it ended up working out, and that was just so great. Everybody that was a part of the casting process was so sweet and so nice. I was so nervous.

Tubefilter: What was the filming process like? How many days were you on set? Take me through it a little bit.

Hannah Montoya: Yes, absolutely. The Royals of Malibu is a podcast show. It’s a whole new platform, a form of media where it’s the old radio shows and something you can listen to while you’re multitasking or doing something else and just have the show in your ears and you picture everything. It’s so great. It’s such a unique way of creating media and having entertainment. Going into it, Alyssa did a wonderful job for Season 1, recording behind the scenes and just primarily posting that content, which obviously helped jumpstart that fanbase and stuff for The Royals of Malibu. Going into it, I knew Alyssa did a lot of the behind the scenes and so I was like, “Let me help out in that area.”

I was only needed in the booth for my character, my actual recordings, for two sessions. Just two random morning sessions where I was actually doing my scenes, but I stayed the full-time for everyone else’s just so I could record behind the scenes content for them and for Alyssa. There’s just a bunch of behind the scenes stuff, because since it’s an audio show, you don’t get to see that physical emotion in people or see them jump into character or hear the notes or hear when people mess up and their reactions, which are just funny.

Tubefilter: It’s just one of you at a time in the booth, or are you playing off each other? Is anybody recording together?

Hannah Montoya: It was crazy. Apparently, Season 1 was a little bit different where they would do more one-on-one or two people in a scene because there’s a lot of Reed and Ella, so those interactions are more intense, but this season involves a lot more group scenes, and so at one point we would have four people in the booth recording it and we’re all yelling at each other or yelling with each other and it was just so much fun.

The funniest part to me was there’s lines where it’s like we’ll all say some line at the same time, like, “Yes,” or “No.” We’d start recording and do it all together once, and then we’d go individually right after and have our own rundown the line, of everybody yelling the exact same word separated, but it was so much fun. I loved having everyone in the booth. It just felt like everybody was hanging out for a little bit there.

Tubefilter: Are there any other cool things about the production process? How did it affect your content? Were you able to make content about being on the show or is it hush-hush or how does that work for you?

Hannah Montoya: Actually, this is a really good question because it helps tie in too. Snapchat is obviously a strange social media platform, I feel like, because it’s so up and coming and a lot of people don’t really understand it. Alyssa and I right now, I think primarily, I don’t want to speak on her behalf, but I feel like we both focus most of our attention in this moment right now on Snapchat. Her and I upload a minimum of 90 Snapchat Stories a day.

Tubefilter: Ninety? That’s wild.

Hannah Montoya: It’s wild. But keeping that number in mind, we were putting up panels of 130, 160 from behind the scenes, and it was hard trying to film parts without really big spoilers, but it was cool because people are in the booth and then everyone in the cast that wasn’t in that scene were just talking or hanging out. Getting to show all of that, and we could show what it looked like in the recording studio, it’s just cool to just see all of the different stuff. The booth situation and the director’s laptop and everything on their computers was…I couldn’t even begin to understand anything that was happening because there’s the DJ-looking setup. I was like, there’s so many knobs and buttons that are so intimidating, but we were able to post about what that looked like in that perspective, the insider sort of thing. It felt really intimate with our followers on Snapchat because people were able to see, “Okay, so you guys get up and you go get Starbucks in the morning and then this is the booth, and this is the guy that works the microphones, and this is the director.” It was just a very cool experience where people were checking in very closely and was able to see everything about our days.

@hannah.montoyalike WHY would u bring that up♬ Switching sides – Mr. America

Tubefilter: You have a huge following on TikTok, but why is Snapchat such an important component of building your community?

Hannah Montoya: Yes. It was actually, I’m working with The Network Effect, and they were very persuasive with this one. I obviously had already been posting on TikTok and YouTube and Instagram and just posting these short clips on there where they’re fully in character and doing some sketch or some scene or developing a random comedic character. Then the Brians were like, “Hannah, you’ve got to start posting on Snapchat. We’ll start off, you post 25 times a day.” I was like, “That’s the app where I only have my friends in real life on it.” I was like, “Please do not make me do this.” They’re like, “No, trust me, this is going to be cool. This is going to be really good.”

I was like, “Okay.” I started off with 25, and they’re like, “Okay, good job. Do 45.” I was like, “Oh, my god. What do you mean?” I had a bunch of my friends from high school and stuff start unadding me on Snapchat because they were like, “Hannah unadded me because she’s posting so much and she’s in my subscriptions.” It was just like…Because it’s such a new thing where people don’t understand. If you’re posting a lot on Snapchat, you’re not unadding people. It’s just a weird feature. I was posting 45 a day, and then they were like, “Okay, crank it up, 91.” That’s where we’ve been posting, staying above and around 100 panels a day.

It’s a totally different platform and it’s a totally different way I think about going about posting. Just because vlogging was a huge thing and it still is on YouTube, very much so. Snapchat is interesting and different, I think, because it shows some very, very authentic versions of yourself where it’s like, “Okay, I wake up in the morning and I just post a video of me just genuinely getting out of bed. I’m like, “Good morning, everybody. How are you doing? I’m disgusting right now, but love you.” [laughs] You just post so much about your day and obviously the good, the bad, the ugly.

If I’m having a really bad day, I’ll just pop on Snapchat and be like, “Hey, guys, I’m feeling so awful,” or “I’m feeling so lazy.” I’ll be like, “Can you give me some tough love? I cannot, I’m not folding my laundry right now.” A bunch of people are like, “Get your ass up and go do this.” It’s just super involved in literally every single part of my day. I know the same for Gianna [Christine] and Alyssa, because we hung out not too long ago in Jersey and we’re talking about it.

It was just really funny to read the comments from their communities and their following and just the way that everybody is so intimately involved in each other’s lives because it feels genuinely like…When I think of the subscribers that I have on Snapchat, I feel so blessed to have them, but they feel like my friends. They know everything about me. It’s just the coolest thing ever.

Tubefilter: I’ve spoken to both Gianna and Alyssa and they said similar things, that they like how close it is. I did want to ask, are you intending to do more vocal work? Do you want to act in front of cameras? What are you thinking?

Hannah Montoya: I’m kind of open to basically anything. I know you’ve really got to get experience and everything to kind of know what direction you want to go in. I will say that doing The Royals of Malibu was just such an incredible time. If there’s anything that I could do within that realm, I’d appreciate it so much, because I just had the best time ever. Voice acting and vocal acting is definitely something I would want to get into and do more of. It was just so much fun.

Obviously I was able to see people get into their characters, and I think every experience is a learning one. I’m taking a lot of mental notes and I just was so blown away by everybody’s performances and it’s super inspiring. I would also love to do behind the camera work and in front of the camera work. I love writing and writing sketches and developing characters. Literally anything involving entertainment at all, I would love to do in the future.

Tubefilter: As a wrap-up, what are your plans and goals for the next year or so? Do you have any projects you’re working on?

Hannah Montoya: Nothing off the top right now. Hopefully in a few months from now I’ll have a different answer. As of right now, I’m kind of feeling out the ropes and making social media and content creation truly full-time and giving it the time that I wasn’t able to while I was multitasking with college. Focusing on that, and just kind of keeping up this development of characters. I have a few new characters and a few new sketches that I’m writing right now and they’re in the works, that I’m really excited to be posting.

I just want to be more involved in the entertainment scene, which would be really, really cool. Hopefully more projects alike to The Royals of Malibu and just doing what I’m doing but really turning on the gas, really hiking it up. We’ll see.

Tubefilter: Perfect. Is there anything else that you would want readers to know about you?

Hannah Montoya: I guess that I am a die-hard Taylor Swift fan. [laughs] I feel like I just have to add that. If I go an hour without talking about her, I get weird.

Tubefilter: What’s your favorite Taylor Swift song?

Hannah Montoya: Oh my god, it depends on the day for me.

Tubefilter: I’m going to put you on the spot.

Hannah Montoya: Okay. I think right now, and I will probably die on this hill, is that when “All Too Well (10 minute version)” first came out, it became my top song listened to on Spotify ever. I’ve had it since I was 15. That just speaks volumes. I just, I love her.

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