Becoming a successful YouTube personality is not as easy as it seems, but Safiya Nygaard has shown that she’s one vlogger who isn’t going anywhere. The YouTuber is best known for her style and beauty videos, but she originally got her start working as a producer at BuzzFeed, where she co-created the popular series Ladylike. After leaving the company in 2017, Nygaard started her own YouTube channel, which boasts a dedicated following of more than six million subscribers.
What draws fans to Nygaard’s videos is her smart and unique way of creating content. Unlike most style and beauty channels, Nygaard’s isn’t just product reviews and tutorials. She produces interesting and entertaining videos (like wearing nine-foot-long jeans for a week), helpful reviews you don’t see everywhere (like testing out different shopping platforms), and even has an entire playlist dedicated to period advice.
Nygaard has created a successful space for herself on the internet, and it’s fascinating to learn how she got her start. Keep reading to find out how she got to where she is today, and to learn things you never knew about Nygaard, even if you’re a big fan.
She has a fear of bodycon dresses
As a style vlogger, Nygaard is pretty much expected to try out most trends, which she does — but that doesn’t mean she’s a big fan of all of them. In a 2016 video for her BuzzFeed series Ladylike, Nygaard and several others confronted their biggest fashion fears to try to get past their insecurities. In the video, Nygaard revealed that her fashion fear is bodycon dresses, because she doesn’t enjoy feeling exposed. She said, “I just prefer a flowy dress, just in case I want to eat a big lunch.”
Nygaard spent a week wearing a different bodycon dress each day, and by the end, she did feel a little more comfortable in them than she had in the beginning. To sum up the experience, she stated, “This was a little bit of rejection therapy, where it’s like, ‘People are staring at your butt, people are staring at your butt.’ But then after a while, you’re just like, listen it’s my butt, it’s there. What are we are gonna do about it?”
The real reason why Nygaard left BuzzFeed
After 15 months of being a producer for her series Ladylike on BuzzFeed, Nygaard left the company in January 2017. In March 2017, she posted a video on her own YouTube channel explaining exactly why she left. Nygaard said that the reason she left the company was because she wanted more independence, responsibility, and transparency.
She said that she didn’t like how she felt left out of the decision-making when it came to the series she had created. According to Nygaard, she wasn’t involved in meetings with higher-ups and was never given information on the future of the series. At a certain point Nygaard said she had a realization, stating, “I was never going to be able to get the kind of responsibility that I wanted at BuzzFeed.” After a while, she decided she had different goals than the company, and left to focus all of her time on her own channel.
Lucille Ball is her biggest inspiration
As a successful female entertainer, it’s not surprising that Nygaard is motivated by other successful and powerful females in the industry. In an interview with Lithium magazine, she revealed that Lucille Ball is her biggest inspiration. Not only does she think of Ball as one of the “funniest people that has ever lived,” but she’s also inspired by the fact that Ball was one of the first female studio heads in Hollywood. She explained that she feels inspired “by her drive and the amount of [work] she did to make her own content,” adding, “She did it her way and paved the way for a lot of people after her.”
That wasn’t the first time Nygaard talked about her idol. In one episode of Ladylike, Nygaard got a makeover to be “transformed” into Ball. In that episode, she talked about how grateful she was that Ball was such a “trailblazer” in Hollywood. It’s obvious how much influence Ball’s career has had on Nygaard’s own.
She never planned on becoming a YouTuber, she dreamed of this instead
Nygaard might be a successful YouTube video star now, but she didn’t exactly anticipate doing that while in college. In an interview with YouTube channel Arcane Travels, she talked about her original career goals and how she kind of stumbled upon video producing.
When Nygaard attended Stanford University (where she majored in theater and creative writing), she started a web series for fun with a friend. That friend invited her to Los Angeles one summer to make another web series. Nygaard said, “My plan was to stay in LA for the summer, make a web series with my friend, and then move back to Chicago.” She wanted to go back to Chicago (where she grew up) to get involved with theater.
However, that obviously didn’t happen. Nygaard got an internship in LA, which eventually led her to BuzzFeed. She says she never thought about being on YouTube because she didn’t have any film training and didn’t see it as a viable career option at the time. That clearly changed!
This is her ten-year career goal
Although becoming a YouTube star may not have been her original life goal, Nygaard is certainly happy that that became her reality. She made that clear in her interview with Lithium magazine, where she said that she would love to still be making content ten years from now. She raved about the job of being a YouTuber, saying that her position at BuzzFeed helped her get to where she is today because “it made me realize I could be a creator as well.” She added, “I love the YouTube audience. I love the power you have [in] being an independent content creator.”
Nygaard said that while she’ll always be open to other opportunities, she hopes her future includes YouTube, or at least creating content for the internet. One of the reasons for that is that she loves interacting with her audience and fans. She said, “My audience is amazing and I love them so much. They’re so positive! If they’re telling me something, I usually listen.”
Here's how Nygaard met her boyfriend, fellow YouTube star Tyler Williams
Nygaard has been in a serious relationship for a few years with fellow YouTuber Tyler Williams, who is the CEO and founder of Nextbeat. The two have a cat together named Crusty, and often appear in each other’s videos. In a video on Nygaard’s YouTube channel, they opened about their relationship, saying they met while studying at Stanford University, although they didn’t date in college. They ended up meeting in LA after graduating, and after hanging out as friends for a while and “friend-zoning each other” back and forth, they eventually started dating.
In the video, the two revealed other cute tidbits about their relationship, like the fact that they go to Disneyland together every year because they went there together on one of their first dates. Williams also showed how much he knows about his girlfriend, answering almost every question about her correctly, and Nygaard adorably called him the “cat whisperer.”
She found it difficult to grow up with a mixed race background
In a 2015 video on BuzzFeed titled “When You Don’t Look Like Your Parents,” Nygaard talked about how she found it difficult to grow up with a mixed race background — her father is Danish and her mother is Indian. In the video, Nygaard said, “I didn’t really know the word race when I was a little kid, I just knew that my mom was brown and my dad was white.” While her race wasn’t an issue in her family, she found the reactions of others to be frustrating. She said she never felt comfortable with people saying, “Oh, but you’re basically white, right?” because of her skin color.
Nygaard ended the video by saying she’s hopeful about the future for other mixed race kids, explaining, “I’m sure there’s going to be new obstacles, there always are. But in my mind, it’s getting so much better and it’s so much more normalized, which is really exciting, honestly.”
She's basically completely self-taught
Remember, Nygaard’s ultimate career goal was to do theater in Chicago, and she majored in creative writing and theater at Stanford. She originally created a web series for fun with friends, and didn’t have any professional training when it came to producing. That didn’t stop her from getting things done, though. In her interview with Arcane Travels, she explained how she basically taught herself the ins and outs of creating videos.
Nygaard credited her time at BuzzFeed for helping her learn the important stuff, saying, “I was learning everything from scratch. Before I started working at BuzzFeed, all my knowledge was just sort of piece-meal. It was like, I know how to do this, but if you ask me what an aperture is, I’m like, ‘Whoa, I don’t know!'” Her love of YouTube and her experience in the video world helped make her feel comfortable pursuing the job in a more serious way.
She acted in several plays at Stanford University
During her time as a student at Stanford, Nygaard obviously did a lot more than just create a web series with a friend. Because she majored in theater, she also acted in several plays for the Stanford Theater and Performance Studies production.
One notable role was when she played the lead female character, Abigail Williams, in The Crucible. Another was when she played one of the leads, Maggie, in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Both plays received glowing reviews in The Stanford Daily, the university’s newspaper. For Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, the review stated that although the actors seemed overwhelmed at times, Nygaard “did a fine job with a difficult role.”
Her previous work as a play actor has clearly influenced Nygaard when it comes to creating content for YouTube. She always fully immerses herself in the video, even when it’s about something silly, and leaves her subscribers thoroughly entertained.
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