This time last year, Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey, a 28-year-old graphic designer by trade, was working in the visual merchandising department at Ann Taylor’s corporate office by day and vlogging on YouTube by night. She’d been working as a freelance graphic designer since graduating from school.
A few months later she discovered the popular “Sh!t…Says” meme and decided to shoot a response video covering a topic she knew a lot about having grown up in a predominantly white neighborhood in West Palm Beach. Thus, the “Sh!t White Girls Say…to Black Girls” video was born.
Ramsey posted the video at 8 a.m. right before she left out for work and by noon it had racked up more than one million views, instantly catapulting her from the vast black hole of video bloggers and into the spotlight.
Once the video started trending, people were quick to label Ramsey an overnight success. However, she’d been a YouTube partner for more than four years and had been diligently honing her brand and aesthetic and preparing for her breakout moment. But even she couldn’t have imagined the amount of exposure and opportunities that would appear in the months to come.
We recently caught up with Franchesca to chat about the success of the “Sh!t White Girls Say…to Black Girls” video (which is still averaging about 200,000 views per month), how she built her online audience and what’s next for the rising Internet star.
MN: How would you describe what you do to someone who is meeting you for the first time and hasn’t seen your work?
FR: I’m an actress/comedian and graphic designer/blogger that makes a living doing freelance design work and making comedy and hair/beauty videos on YouTube!
MN: It’s been about eight months since you posted the “Sh!t White Girls Say…to Black Girls” (SWGSTBG) video that put you on everyone’s radar. How has your life changed since then?
FR: My life is completely different these days. I was able to quit my day job as a graphic designer solely based on the success of “Sh!t White Girls Say….” I got an amazing agent and manager, have been working on a few television projects, speaking at colleges and conferences and going on regular TV and film auditions.
MN: A lot of people think you’re an overnight success, but you were doing YouTube videos for a few years before SWGSTBG came out, right?
FR: I started making videos in 2007 and became a YouTube partner in 2008. But I started blogging in 1998, when I was in the 8th grade.