Carrie Lyell meets YouTuber, podcaster and filmmaker Breanne Williamson
BY CARRIE LYELL
I first met YouTuber and all-round boss babe Breanne Williamson in Palm Springs in 2017 where we bonded feeding giraffes and partying hard at the legendary Dinah Shore – not at the same time, you’ll be glad to hear. Back then, the Canadian was an up-and-coming content creator with a couple of thousand subscribers on her channel – known collectively as “The B Team”. Three years on, Breanne co-hosts a podcast called I Can Explain with friend Sean Lusk, and is dipping her toes into the world of filmmaker, with one short film under her belt already. Not a bad three years, really…
DIVA: You’ve been a busy bee, haven’t you? Tell us about your short film, Coming Out.
Breanne Williamson: I’ve never studied film. I had no idea what I was doing whatsoever. But when I have an idea, I’m like, “I have to do it”. If I sit on it, I’ll talk myself out of it. So I went to this set location that I Googled and I asked about renting it. They’re like, “Okay, this is great. Do you mind sending the scripts tonight?” I was like, “Fuck, I need a script”. That’s how my brain works – I think big and forget all the other things I actually need to do to make it happen [laughs]. But then it catapults me into doing it. So I went home, wrote the script and sent over. They were like, “We love it. It’s great”. It was the first script I’ve ever written.
The finished product is great. You make it look easy…
I literally went on Instagram and searched to find people who work in film, because I know nobody. My friends are accountants and welders! I started sliding into DMs like “Hi, I’m making my first short film. I have no idea what I’m doing, do you want to help?” [Laughs] I was just totally honest. “I have no idea what I’m doing. But here’s the idea. If you have any interest, let me know.” I’d say 80% either didn’t get back to me, or if they did they were like, “What the hell are you doing?”. The other 20% were stoked on it. I just lucked out – the universe was on my side. Everyone was super gung ho and excited. I was really appreciative of everybody for showing up for me, because it could have been an absolute disaster!
Where did the idea for the story come from?
I thought when I came out it was going to be one big rip-off-the-band-aid moment. I was like, “I just have to get over this hurdle and then once I do, I’ll be out, I can live my life”. But when I came out to my friends and family, I quickly realised that wasn’t enough. People around the town were talking and guessing about my sexuality. I grew up in a close knit, small area outside of Vancouver. I hated the idea that other people had their own version of my story and were filling in the gaps for themselves. That’s actually when I started YouTube. I made a coming out video so I could put it out there in my own words. I thought, “I’ll never have to deal with this again”. I was so frustrated by the fact, especially as a femme presenting individual, that I had to continuously come out. I had never seen that represented in the media. I feel like I could have mentally prepared myself better if I had seen that heteronormativity in society creates this never-ending coming out cycle, which is really frustrating for queer people.
Was comedy an obvious genre choice?
I’ve always found therapy in laughter – it’s helped me get through some really dark times. I struggle with mental health and anxiety. What pulls me out of that is finding the comedic relief in life itself. I always knew that when I was going to do short films, I wanted to talk about something that was important. Those continuing moments of coming out were often really frustrating, really hard, and dug into my internalised homophobia. I wanted to create something that people can find laughter through.
What did making your first short film teach you about yourself as a person?
Honestly, it taught me that I’m pretty badass when I put my mind to something. I was really proud of myself – proud that I didn’t talk myself out of doing it. I’m glad I decided to jump in with both feet and not let fear define what I was going to do.
A lot of content creators make the jump from it being a hobby to a full time job – is that something you plan to do?
I keep saying something’s gotta give. But I love my day job. So instead I just don’t sleep! I’m in real estate, so I’m often doing showings evenings and weekends, and working during the day in the office. It never really ends – I’m never really off the clock. It’s like organised chaos, doing everything at once and hoping nothing falls through. I don’t really have any tips for people! [Laughs] It’s not good for my mental health but I really love everything I’m doing.
That sounds tough. How do you take care of yourself?
It sounds really silly but the only time I really chill is when I have a bath because I can’t really have electronics in there! It’s my time. Every day, for 20 minutes, I’m in this body of water. It’s about making little choices, whether it’s a bath or going for a walk without my phone, making sure that every single day I’m doing something to chill out. I’m such a hyper thinker and I’m always wanting to do more. If I have an extra couple hours a week, I’m like, “Okay, what other small business can I start?” So I really have to think of scheduling in chill time. My girlfriend, Julia, is opposite to me in so many ways. She grounds me because she is more naturally chill. It forces me to find some balance. In turn, I pull her out of her comfort zone, so it works out.
Does YouTube put pressure on your relationship, do you think?
There are a lot of couples channels, and those do really well. I always say if I was looking at it from a business perspective, I would be posting every single day a picture of my girlfriend and I about to kiss. Instagram would love us! But it just doesn’t work for us. Every once in a while, Julia will be on my channel, but it’s definitely not a couple’s channel. She has no interest in that side of things and that’s not the type of content I want to make. It would be super inauthentic and it would come off really fake. Because I have a business mindset, I know if I did XYZ with my relationship and monetised it, I could create a much larger following. But it’s about grounding myself and doing only what I love. I never want to do something that feels forced. People are smart, too. They read through BS pretty well.
You now have a podcast as well as your YouTube channel. Do you find different mediums allow you to tell different stories?
On YouTube, there’s pressure to make things concise, consumable and quick. These days, people expect to have all the information in the first two minutes. A lot of people don’t watch to the end. Whereas in the podcast space, people want to listen. It allows you to dive deeper into topics – listeners want that. They’re there for that. Also, because of the restrictions on YouTube, there are a lot of things that I think are important that I can’t talk about. Like being sex positive. I completely disagree with those restrictions. It’s gotten worse. If I upload a video with the word lesbian in the title, I’m immediately flagged, and all my monetisation is gone. In the podcast world, it’s free rein.
What does the rest of 2020 have in store?
I want to complete a web series for my channel, and creating more quality over quantity. For a lot of years, I was trying to just pump videos out, but now I’ve got the bug and I’m spending more time focusing on bigger projects. I want to get started on writing, too, and taking more opportunities to meet people in person. My big goal for 2020 is meeting people – followers and subscribers. That’s when I’m at my happiest. People are like, “I’m so excited to meet you”. I’m like, “I’m so excited!” I love meeting people from different walks of life, learning from them and seeing the power of the internet. and all these people that otherwise I would never get the chance to communicate with.
This interview originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of DIVA – grab your digital copy right here!