The Internet can be a tough place to live, and let's face it, a lot of us live here. Even with a lot of nasty not-fun stuff lurking online, there are gems to be found, which is why we all live here anyway.
Gloria Shuri Henry is one of those gems. Her YouTube channel is your one-stop Internet pick-me-up, ranging from beauty tutorials to sidesplitting character comedy. Her most famous persona is Tita Auntie, the Filipino aunt you never knew you needed. Tita's subtitled videos are one of Gloria's specialties, but even with all the amazing characters Gloria has created and shared with viewers over the years, the best content comes from Gloria herself. You can't script that much awesome.
I was SO LUCKY to ask her all the pressing questions I've had rattling around in my brain since I first started watching her videos in 2013. I thought I would be completely starstruck, but I had the even better experience of finding that someone whose work I admire is a real and actual person who sends nice emails. I think that's the part of the Internet that I love the most.
What made you start creating comedy videos on YouTube? Have you always been this hilarious?
In 2006, my senior year at Mount Pleasant High School, I was in a mass media class. One of our last assignments was to put together a commercial, be it a radio ad, video, or newspaper (I think). When my video was presented I posted it on YouTube to show one of my friends who was living in the LA area. One day a friend and I were in his car and we recorded Confessions to La Quandra. I edited it to have subtitles (because I thought it would be funny), posted it online and it ended up having 300 views over a weekend which was AWESOME! I had zero subscribers and we were so excited because a video we did for fun had views!
You met your husband online, right? Can you tell us a little bit about what your experience has been in an online, and later, long distance relationship?
My husband Ali and I became friends somewhere during 2009-2010. I guess he had a crush on me…I thought he was gay. TO BE FAIR, I thought he was gay only because at that time the majority of my male audience were gay men. He had seen my videos through a post on Twitter and he thought I was cute, so he reached out to me and after a few MONTHS of trying to get my attention he finally got it! One day I was doing a show on blogtv (RIP blogtv), and I asked if anyone could analyze my dreams. He said, “YES! I CAN!” Even though he’s a sleep researcher and knows that you can’t really analyze someone’s dreams, he said yes anyway because he just wanted to talk to me.
Over the next couple of years we became best friends and we would tell each other everything. It wasn’t just a friendship of, “Oh hey, let’s just laugh about a funny video and that’ll be it.” It was a much deeper friendship. We actually shared all of the ugly things that no one ever really wants to talk about. He was one person I felt like (and still feel) would never judge me, so I was always comfortable talking to him. At the end of 2011, I realized I had feelings for him and he told me he’d been waiting for me to say that for a long time and we’ve been together since then. He visited me in California in May 2012 from Scotland and it didn’t even feel awkward which, in all honesty, was not a surprise. It was just like he was away for a while and we were reunited. He visited for two weeks and the airport goodbye was just horrible — airport goodbyes never got easier. We were long distance for a year and a half when he moved over in August 2013 to go to a university out in California. He proposed to me that same month, and we got married on June 28, 2014. NOW we live in Manchester, England. It’s been a very strange but amazing six years knowing him and all of the hurt from being in a long distance relationship was so worth it.
Despite people being absolutely terrible to you online, you always bounce back with badass content and a wonderful confidence in yourself and the things you create. What is a piece of advice about dealing with online hate that you don’t think is shared enough?
I think people forget that the little person inside the screen is actually a human being. People say some really dumb stuff and it’s mostly from people who are bored AF and have nothing better to do than waste their time on making others feel just as bad as they probably do. I think that people who are receiving the hate should remember that it’s OK to feel sad about it for a little bit…but ONLY a little bit. If you’re feeling sad, you should feel it and there’s nothing wrong with that — but you can’t let ignorant people make you feel worthless. Try your best not to respond to the negativity, even though it’s really hard to do sometimes. I like to engage with my audience and respond to as many people as I can, but there are times when I read a really big eye-roller and just HAVE to say something back because someone else might read it and feel down. If they respond after that, I usually just leave it alone because I’ve made my point and there’s really no use in feeding the troll more than it deserves...which is nothing, but you get my point.
You also blog about makeup and other beauty products. A lot of people dismiss “beauty blogging” and content focusing on makeup in general — why do you think that is and why do you choose to talk about it on your channel?
My channel is my channel. I talk about things that I love and like to share it with others. I love makeup and cute everything. There’s surprisingly so many women who watch my channel who need some plus-size fashion advice and I guess they like my channel for it, haha! While I don’t really consider myself a beauty blogger, I do like to share what I wear, and what super cute pretty things are out there that I happen to come across because it’s simply fun.
Why do you hate Stitch so much?
I don’t really hate Stitch as much as everyone thinks. I just think there are much better characters to love. Like Gus-Gus from Cinderella, Marie from Aristocats (even though she’s a snotty B), or even freakin SCRUMP, who is in that movie for five seconds! Any of those! I don’t understand how people can fangirl over something that almost ruined a family’s lives. Nani, the oldest and responsible sister was doing everything she could to take care of Lilo. Lilo decides to adopt this stupid blue “dog” and all hell breaks loose. Nani was just trying to keep them together but nooooo the little blue 626 goes and makes her lose every potential job she gets because he’s just horrible. #TeamNani #TeamGusGus
How is Tita Auntie? She does interviews with some extremely cool people (WILLAM!!!) — how did she get involved with the drag queen community?
Tita’s cool. She’s probably off somewhere harassing poor unfortunate souls around the UK in her new series that she’s just started.
I actually was a fan of Willam on Drag Race and thought he was super annoying. Sometimes I like annoying people. I walked in on one of his episodes of Willam’s Beatdown and took over his show for a bit (like three minutes) so I got to troll a troll, which was awesome. After the shoot, he told me he knew about my videos before his show had started, which I thought was cool! We collaborated and plan to do so again sometime soon.
You’re a big fan of your Kindle, and I’m super happy to hear that you got one after forgetting yours on a plane! I would’ve been devastated. What have you been reading now that you can use one again?
This is my public service announcement for those of you who take things that aren’t yours, especially if it’s my Kindle: IT IS NOT YOURS. DO NOT TAKE IT. BE A GOOD HUMAN AND TURN WHATEVER YOU FIND IN!!
I cried so ugly when I realized I lost my Kindle. My husband bought it for me for Christmas and it was my favorite gift he’s ever given me…aside from my engagement and wedding rings of course! Currently, I’m reading a series called The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. There’re seven books out right now, and to my knowledge, there are supposed to be nine! I’m on book five called Trapped and EVERYONE should read them if they like fantasy books with lots of nerdy references and adventure. If you don’t like fun, this series isn’t for you.
You documented the entire process leading up to your wedding and you continue to give your viewers peeks into your life. Why is documenting your life and your relationship in video format important to you?
Documenting our lives together is important to me because I love to look back on good times and see how far we’ve come as a couple. I’ve always had family and friends watching who live in different places, so this is also for them. When I get a message from people saying they are inspired by our successful LDR, it warms my heart and reminds me of how far we’ve come and everything that I’m thankful for.
Since this interview series is all about celebrating people we love, who are you loving right now? Any other hilarious ladies online that we should be looking out for?
Ashley Nell Tipton who is currently on Project Runway is someone I absolutely love. She’s the first plus-size designer on the show and her imagination is clearly translated into her work. She sent me the dress I wore to my bridal shower in 2014 and when I tried it on, it was unlike anything I’ve worn before! The quality of her work is fantastic, and you can just tell she loves what she does. Tess Holliday is someone I absolutely love, too. I got to meet her at The Curve Fashion Festival and she is just a breath of fresh air. I’ve always respected her, and when I met her she exceeded basically every expectation I’ve had. She recently hit 1 million followers on Instagram and when I actually sat there (“there” being my living room) and thought about the event, I realized that people can be as successful as she is and still be humble and treat people like human beings. I really admire her for that.