By 2009, blogging had become a viable career choice with entrepreneurial opportunity. Noticing this trend were then-Toronto-based actress and singer Andrea Lewis (she played Hazel Aden on the hit show Degrassi) and author and photographer Shannon Boodram. After a few conversations and jokes from friends about Andrea and Shannon’s eccentric personalities, they created Those Girls are Wild, a video blogging destination where girls and women who “weren’t afraid of dancing to the beat of their own drum,” could feel “comfortable fully expressing themselves.”
In three years, Those Girls are Wild (TGAW) has gained over 50,000 loyal subscribers who’ve watched and shared their videos more than seven million times spawning a growing number of TGAW-themed products and events.
And with countless TGAW fan submissions for themes like “Shameless Mondays” and videos that discuss topics such as friendship, relationships, and natural hair, Andrea and Shannon are driving the discussion that is inspiring a new generation of ‘wild girls’ to celebrate the ups and downs of life while living out loud on their own turns.
Here, Andrea and Shannon talk about their biggest regrets and inspirations, growing a business with a partner who lives in a different city, and the origin of their ‘shameless’ promotion.
Madame Noire (MN): What was the inspiration and purpose behind TGAW? What made you want to join forces?
Shannon Boodram (SB): Essentially blogs were all the rage during that time in our city of Toronto and we wanted a piece of the shine too. We both felt like we were in a place in our lives both professionally and personally where we felt comfortable sharing our lives and we believed others could benefit from that kind of honesty.
Andrea Lewis (AL): I always feel like the best way to get people to support you is for people to feel like they know you. Especially for myself coming from the acting world. Often people just assume you’re exactly like whatever character you were playing on TV. At the time before we started TGAW we didn’t have anything where people could get to know who we really were. [With TGAW] we truly got a chance to just be ourselves!
MN: You have an active digital audience of more than 50,000 people. Was it hard to grow your audience or did you find that people knew you from previous work?
SB: Andrea being famous has and continues to help, but at the same time there is SO MUCH to pay attention to online. So it is hard to get attention. Unless you are doing things in the formulaic way — beauty, DIY stunts, cats, tag videos — it can take a long time before one of your videos sees 1,000 hits! We had to be very persistent and innovative from [day one]. And living up to that standard has been tough because now that we are both busier it is a lot easier to do the standard videos than the risky ones.