The life and rise of Emma Chamberlain, the 18-year-old YouTuber who has become one of Gen Z’s most beloved celebrities

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Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Chamberlain was born on May 22, 2001. She grew up in San Bruno, California, a suburb just south of San Francisco where — coincidentally — YouTube’s headquarters are located.

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YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California.
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Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Source: The New York Times


Her parents divorced when Chamberlain, an only child, was 5 years old. She found YouTube at an early age “to connect with other people and see what they were up to,” she told The New York Times.

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Reuters

Source: The New York Times, Forbes


Growing up, Chamberlain’s family struggled financially. “There were times when we couldn’t even go to the movies, when I was a kid, because there wasn’t enough money,” Chamberlain told Forbes in 2018.

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Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

Source: Forbes


But even as a kid, Chamberlain loved making videos for her friends. “I always had an outgoing personality. That was the one thing that I was known for,” Chamberlain said. “When I was younger I had a gut feeling that I was going to use my personality in some way, but I didn’t know how.”

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Chamberlain in an early YouTube video from June 2017.
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Emma Chamberlain/YouTube

Source: Forbes


Chamberlain taught herself how to edit videos, and started posting to her self-titled YouTube channel in 2017, the summer before her junior year of high school. She filled her channel with vlogs and DIY content, much of which her dad, an artist and photographer, would help her film.

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Emma Chamberlain and her dad, Michael Chamberlain,
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Emma Chamberlain/YouTube

Source: Forbes, Business Insider


Her first video to go viral came in July 2017 when she did a “haul” — a popular YouTube trend where you show off items from a shopping spree — from the dollar store. “That was apparently a YouTube trend at the time, and it ended up working in my favor,” Chamberlain told W Magazine.

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Emma Chamberlain/YouTube

Source: Forbes, W Magazine


After that first viral video, success seemingly happened “overnight,” Chamberlain told Forbes. She got an agent, and dropped out of high school right before her junior year to do YouTube full-time.

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Emma Chamberlain accepting the Breakout Creator award onstage during the Streamy Awards in 2018.
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Source: Forbes, Business Insider


By the next year, Chamberlain and her parents decided that it would be best for her career to move from the San Francisco area to Los Angeles. She moved into her own apartment there in June 2018.

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Emma Chamberlain/YouTube

Source: The New York Times


Shortly after moving, Chamberlain teamed up with a group of three other young YouTubers: James Charles, and Ethan and Grayson Dolan. Dubbed the “Sister Squad,” the crew often collaborated on videos across their YouTube channels through 2018. However, it seems the group’s friendship frayed in early 2019, and they’ve since stopped recording content together.

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From left: YouTubers James Charles, The Dolan Twins, and Emma Chamberlain.
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Dolan Twins/YouTube

Source: Elite Daily


Chamberlain’s rapid rise to success has not come without criticism and hate. In mid-2018, Chamberlain almost quit because of the drama and rumors spread about her online. “It’s really uninspiring when you post a video and everyone says, ‘Go kill yourself,'” she told Forbes.

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Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Source: Forbes


But in times of stress and difficulty, Chamberlain has credited her friends and family for helping her get through to the other side. “Spending time with them is super important to me because, at the end of the day, you need a support system,” Chamberlain said.

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Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Source: Forbes


As a YouTuber, Chamberlain has also learned that there are certain things she has to keep private. “I don’t know if I would ever have a public relationship, ever,” she said in a 2019 interview. “And this is not coming from experience in any way … Breakups alone are absolutely the most f—ing awful thing that exist. Why would you want other people to be heartbroken with you?”

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Emma Chamberlain and The Dolan Twins.
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Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

Source: W Magazine


Chamberlain has been grouped in with the onslaught of VSCO girls, the uber-trendy teens sporting scrunchies, Hydro Flask water bottles, and reusable metal straws. Chamberlain — who often does clothing hauls from places like Brandy Melville and Urban Outfitters — fits the bill.

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Olivia Cara/YouTube

Source: BuzzFeed News


Chamberlain has been credited with popularizing an entire counterculture subgenre of YouTube, where creators are seen as authentic and relatable to their teen fans. Her vlogs are funny, coffee-addled, and showcase her outgoing personality.

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Emma Chamberlain/YouTube

Source: The Atlantic


Chamberlain’s editing style is just as distinct, full of meme-y quick cuts, zooming, and text commentary. She told W Magazine it takes her 20 to 30 hours to edit a YouTube video.

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Emma Chamberlain/YouTube

Source: The Atlantic, W Magazine


Chamberlain has skyrocketed to such an iconic status, it earned her high-profile invites Paris Fashion Week twice this year, including a video partnership with supermodel Karlie Kloss.

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Klossy/YouTube

Source: Vogue


The 18-year-old Chamberlain is now worth an estimated $3 million. She has more than 8 million followers on both YouTube and Instagram. She launched a podcast this year called “Stupid Genius,” and sells a line of popular merchandise for fans.

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Emma Chamberlain at VidCon 2019.
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Tom Vickers/MOVI Inc

Source: Celebrity Net Worth


In November 2019, Chamberlain was named to Time Magazine’s 100 Next list, showcasing rising stars shaping the future. “Showing off acne and highlighting mundane moments like badly needing an iced coffee are hallmarks of vlogs by Chamberlain, whose editing style spawned a subgenre of young creators following her lead,” Time wrote.

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Emma Chamberlain at Paris Fashion Week in October 2019.
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Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

Source: Time