Breakfast with Alex Wex

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12/4/2018

People have a million opinions and false facts about the digital world we live in today, and even more about social media. For a lot of people, they use platforms like Instagram and Twitter to follow celebrities, and some use it to bully celebrities. Most forget that that connection can also be used for good. We live in a world of amazing accessibility and, when used properly, could foster a wonderful connection between people. A prime example of this is the Will Smith Jump event that took the internet by storm, that all started with a video message. It’s incredible what can happen when you reach out to people. That was the main thought in my mind before sitting down with Alex Wex yesterday. Alex Wex is an amazing Twitch streamer, and until recently, was a producer for FBE and REACT on Youtube. As of this interview, Alex Wex has fostered a wonderful community through Twitch and Discord known as the Jank Squad, and recently broke his view count record at 210 viewers for his birthday stream, also hitting close to 600 subscribers. Given that I was in Atlanta and he was in LA we couldn’t actually meet for breakfast like I usually do so we had an amazing video chat instead.

So for starters, I just want to thank you for sitting down with me. I’ve been following your work since I first saw you on FBE and I think you’re an awesome dude so thanks. I wanna start at the very beginning because I’m really interested in your story. So, I know you went to high school in Atlanta, GA. What can you tell me about that?

I was actually born in Manhattan, my family moved to Atlanta around pre-K and I lived there up until I graduated from Riverwood High School. All my friends wanted to go to UGA or Georgia Tech but I was really interested in traveling and branching out, so I went to Ohio for college, and now I live in L.A. I made some truly amazing friends in Atlanta, and having this kind of east coast, south culture mixture has made life pretty interesting.

When did you know you wanted to work in entertainment, and what led to you becoming a producer?

When I was a kid, my family liked to record family videos, and I always wanted to see the recording. I had the eye for production pretty early. Once I started high school I got involved in performing, did Grease, The Wiz, and a few other school plays that got me interested in the performance aspect as well. In college, I majored in video production with a minor in film and sociology so I gained real knowledge of the art that happens behind the camera.

How does one go from school in Atlanta to working at FBE?

As I mentioned before I went to college at Ohio University, what got me was their video production department. I actually still work with the head of the department and speak to the alumni when they come here, advising them on some dos and don’ts. As a graduation gift, my Dad gave me an all expense paid trip to anywhere I wanted to go in the U.S for a few days and I chose L.A. So I was here, hanging out with my current roommate Johnny and we just decided to come out here permanently and live the dream. So I packed up my car and drove from Atlanta to LA and started looking for internships while working at Chipotle.I first joined FBE as an intern, then got hired as a PA and eventually was a writer for some of their scripted shows, and I worked my way up until I was offered the producer position. I loved producing because that involved every aspect of working behind the camera, from writing to filming to editing and seeing the baby from birth to fully grown. Being in front of the camera came back when FBE launched the community team and started streaming on Twitch.

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Watching Alex grow on YouTube, putting reactors in hilarious challenges, eat crazy concoctions and brave some insane hot sauces that would make Sean Evans proud, his personality radiates through the screen. His passion for both sides of the camera is clear in the quality of every video he makes. However, taking part in one of his Twitch streams gives you an even more full experience. It’s like the difference between a teaser trailer and a full film.

Freddy or Jason?

Freddy is my favorite in Dead By Daylight but I love Jason, in fact, Friday the 13th was the first game I ever streamed. I’d have to say, Jason.

So, we were in high school in the baby years of YouTube, I mostly used it for music videos and anime, I think back then I only followed Phil Defranco and Timothy Delaghetto consistently. Back then, did you ever look at YouTube and think “this is going to revolutionize the world and turn traditional media on its head?”

Yeah, it’s changed everything. Almost every network has a YouTube channel now. Late night shows and things like SNL upload segments that get massive amounts of views. YouTube is still growing, testing out its premium service and channel enrollment and things like that, but it’s exciting to see where it’s going to end up.

It’s even crazier when you think about how much Twitch has already changed the game.

Definitely, I mean we’ve seen what happens when some of the top YouTube creators come over to Twitch and realize that it’s completely different from what they’re used to. It’s more like an improv radio show, you have to be on for two or three hours and avoid dead air, rather than being able to edit something together. It’s hard to be constantly entertaining when you’re used to delivering a finished edit rather than a live audience. For example, Logan Paul had over 100,000 people in his first stream but after that, the numbers dropped just cause that’s not his world. Live Streaming is a constant conversation. It’s the opposite of YouTube.

I remember seeing YouTubers flood to Twitch after the adpocalypse and feeling like it made no sense. A lot of vloggers and creators who never expressed any interest in video games were all suddenly obsessed with Fortnite. However, when people like Alex Wex came to Twitch they brought genuine love of gaming, skill, and a great sense of community.

What insight can you give into the world of a producer? Especially on the internet, how to figure out what videos are gonna get views or go viral?

It’s a case by case basis depending on what you make. With Challenge Chalice, we made it during the high point of internet challenges and we had consistent challenges to make content with constantly, but this past year challenges have kinda quieted down so that got more difficult. We revisited and revised a lot of earlier challenges to make them more interesting, and that has to do with being present during every step of the process. You can’t slack off on anything, from script to editing. Being organized is key, and definitely take on the ideas and criticisms of the people working with you. Be flexible and open-minded. It’s not about balance, it’s about harmony.

3 Breakfast must haves?

Bacon

Grits

Belgian Waffles are incredible

Hack-n-slash? RPG? Or FPS? And why?

That’s complicated. Overwatch is one of my favorite games but it doesn’t play exactly like an FPS. For me, hack-n-slash for games like Dead Cells, Rogue Lights, I love games with massive replay value. I’m playing Diablo 3 on switch right now and I love it.

What games are best for streaming? Does the game you play matter?

A little, but it shouldn’t be everything. You want your audience to gravitate towards your personality. Never play something you don’t enjoy playing. I love Overwatch and it’s not one of the current hot stream games but I love playing it. Story games are complicated. If people miss parts of story mode games they tune it out cause they won’t know what’s going on. More than anything put your own spin on what you’re doing. For example, when I do Dead By Daylight I do stream vs chat where my chat helps the survivors escape if I’m playing the killer. In fact, chatting streams are starting to really blow up. It’s more about the person playing than the game they play.

What game has you hype for 2019?

That’s tough, but probably Kingdom Hearts 3. I’m excited for Smash Bros for my last game of 2018 too.

What led you to Twitch?

I’d seen some of it, but Tom had been doing it for 6 months and kept suggesting it until one day I finally did. I had a decent setup with an ultra-wide monitor and Tom’s old video capture device and I started streaming Dead by Daylight. We actually came into the name Jank Squad because of how janky the streams were in the beginning.

What led you to leave FBE and what are you working on now?

I wanted to focus more on my Twitch, and it was exhausting streaming at work on the days when I’m also streaming at home. I wanted to give my audience the most energy I could and be more involved with them as a community. I’m creating new ways to interact with my audience, more active in my Discord, and after working there for 5 years I felt stuck. There wasn’t any new learning experience and things felt a little sour and monotonous with the new direction things were going in. I’m actually getting a new camera and a green screen to upgrade the stream quality. I’d love to make partner with Twitch.

What’s the dream?

I take things to step by step. I’m definitely in a transition right now. I’m looking for another good full-time job at the moment. I’d love to be a full-time streamer but I’d also love to produce my own stuff and then stream after work. Streaming is probably one of the most consistent things I’ve ever done. Funny enough, that’s part of what got me into it cause Tom knew my leisure activity was video games, and streaming just takes that to another level. It definitely takes work, but the community you foster on this platform is unlike any other with the rating system and how everything is set up.

Alright so the zombie apocalypse is upon us and you can have 1 mortal character, one god tier video game character, and one Reactor in your survival squad, who you got?

Kratos from God of War 2 causes his chain blades would tear through everything, my regular would be Leon from Resident Evil 4 cause his aim is amazing and he’s used to zombies, and my Reactor would be Chelsea cause she knows so much about The Walking Dead. That’s my squad.

East Coast or West Coast?

East, it’s where I was born and bred.

Top 10 songs or artists on your playlist right now?

Meek Mill- Intro with the amazing Phil Collins sample

Tyler the Creator’s Grinch is great for the holidays

The Cool-Lupe Fiasco

Chance The Rapper’s new songs

Paramore- Ain’t It Fun

You come from the same city I did with only a two year age difference, and you’re the first brown face I saw in relation to FBE and now you’re killing it on Twitch. Do you know how dope you are?

I appreciate that. I like to think I’m dope in some ways but I also do my best to keep it real, keep myself humble, and not letting the numbers get to my head. I hope everyone thinks they’re fucking awesome, cause they are. I have my good and bad days but I like to look at what has been built and keep grinding. Everyone is on a different time stream. I don’t want to rush things, I’m on my own path, and right now I just wanna build this community.

I for one, am excited to see what comes next from Alex Wex, including his stream later this week. You can find him @ItsMrWex

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