Back in February, when her local Scout group arranged a Vlogstar Challenge Workshop to train their young patrol in video blogging and editing, Seventeen-year-old Bella Roberts from South London nearly missed it.
Little did she know that the workshop would spark within her a new-found passion for vlogging and that in a just seven months, she would be on stage at YouTube London being crowned 2019 Vlogstar Challenge winner.
“When I got home from the workshop, I actually didn’t want to enter the competition at first as I wasn’t much of a vlogger before,” Said Bella. “But the workshop helped me to gain new skills and when the trainer explained the competition, how to enter and what the prizes were, I got excited.”
The Vlogstar Challenge training programme and competition, run by Media Trust in partnership with the Jack Petchey Foundation and supported by YouTube and the Evening Standard, aims to increase the confidence and communications skills of young people across London and Essex through vlogging. Each trainee is then invited to submit a vlog to the competition.
After the workshop, Bella submitted her vlog and revisited her abandoned YouTube channel she’d set up a couple of years before and started to vlog again more regularly.
Experiencing YouTube HQ
In July, Bella was chosen as one of 150 semi-finalists and invited to YouTube for a day of inspirational talks and training: “It was so nice to be surrounded by a lot of creative people that had similar dreams and goals as I did,” said Bella. “It was a day I had never really experienced. It was really cool.”
She waited to hear if she’d made it to the final: “I was actually in Tesco with my sister vlogging and shopping for my holiday when I found out I was a finalist,” said Bella.
“I was completely shocked.”
The Grand Final
Bella joined 14 other finalists who had their videos premiered to a packed audience of family and friends along with a panel of judges which included Top boy actor Ashley Walters and YouTuber Grace F Victory.
Bella recalls the moment she was announced as winner: “It felt surreal. It took a while to sink in.”
“When I was younger, I won prizes, but they were more like pity prizes as I felt like I had won because I am disabled. But winning Vlogstar Challenge, I felt like I really deserved it and had done it by myself.”
Bella continued: “My parents were really proud of me. And having seven siblings, it’s really hard to compete for the proudness of your parents. That meant everything to me.”
People are now seeing me...
“I feel as though, if you look at my entry vlog compared to my final vlog, it’s crazy how much my skills have developed. Also, I feel that my confidence has increased and that I am good at what I am doing. People are now seeing me for my skills and abilities rather than just that short person.”
Bella continued: “I have learnt how to create better content because my videos at first were so boring! I have also learnt how to accept compliments, I used to be so bad at it!”
The Future Post-Vlogstar
Bella has her sights firmly set on a career in film: “I want to continue on my journey to becoming a filmmaker and continue doing runner jobs and posting on YouTube.”
“I’ve always been into filmmaking and editing but before the competition I felt that in order to create content you had to have a whole team. What I realised about YouTube is that you could create content by yourself and that you have the freedom to choose what, when and how you could make that content,”
Bella continued: “YouTube is quite good at getting you to different places and if you keep it up and create an audience, it shows that you are consistent. Nowadays it can open a lot of doors. I am excited for what the future holds.”
Since winning the competition, Bella has been featured in the Evening Standard, appeared on BBC Radio London and London Live and has been invited to BBC Studios to watch the recording Sunday Morning Live. As the competition winner, she has also received £500 worth of production equipment, £2,000 towards a school/college/charity or youth organisation of her choice and a group mentoring session with YouTube.
Check out Bella's YouTube Channel here for the rest of her competition vlogs!