It seems crazy to think about in the age of social media, smartphones, and streaming services, but the internet is still new. Do you remember a time before Google? Do you remember dial up? Do you remember the first smartphone? All of these advancements have taken place very quickly, but there are entire generations who have never lived in a world without iPhones, while some, like myself, have the annoying noise dial-up internet made drilled into our memories forever. Now we live in a world of almost endless possibilities through technology. We’ve gone from growing up with our favorite sitcom actors to growing up with our favorite YouTubers. Nowadays most YouTubers are self-taught, but in the beginning, a lot of the big names on the platform were the underdogs of traditional media. Names like Casey Neistat, of course, come to mind, but also Benny and Rafi Fine, who went from filmmaking to YouTube juggernauts with their React series. Last week I got to sit with one of the first ever teen reactors Chelsea, who has threaded the needle between traditional and digital media entertainer for years. From voice acting commercials to web skits and react videos, Chelsea has left her mark in so many projects and in so many forms you may not have realized she was there. Now she streams on Twitch and has amassed a beautiful, supportive community she calls The Walker Horde, based off her love for The Walking Dead.
So how did your entry into traditional media happen?
I’ve been dancing since I was six. A friend of mine asked me to come with her to an audition for a singing role, and I could audition as a backup dancer. We both auditioned and we both ended up getting the part. So, since we’d be doing music videos we decided to take an acting class. Funny enough, my first acting teacher was Adrian R’Mante (Esteban from Suite Life of Zack & Cody.) I fell in love with it, I saw a chance to pursue a career in something I really love. So I got an agent and just started auditioning and going for whatever’s next.
3 Breakfast must haves?
Potatoes of some kind
Pancakes, French Toast, or Waffles?
What is the source of your obsession with The Walking Dead?
It’s the story. I’ve always loved horror, but TWD has this amazing story that is about the people, not the zombies but set in a horror scenario. There’s never been anything like it done this well. I was twelve when it came out and was transitioning out of dance so I wasn’t seeing many of my friends. It kept me happy and excited for each week with new episodes. Later when I found the fandom online, everyone is so loving and supportive, it gives a strong sense of community. It helped me through my teenage years.
Ok so I have to ask at least 2 questions about FBE, so first, I know you’re from the era when they used casting sites, so how did all that go down, what was on your mind when you first joined?
I’d just started getting into acting, seeing if I liked it, and there was a casting call. So, I originally auditioned for kids react but didn’t hear anything for a little bit. Later on I got an email inviting me to be on teens react. Before that, YouTube was barely on my radar. I was so into movies and tv that I never saw it as a creative platform.
Second, which 2 reactors and 2 Walking Dead characters would you select to help you survive the zombie apocalypse?
Rick, cause he just doesn’t die. Carol is really loyal. Norah is super smart so she’d be helpful with medical and engineering needs, and then Dionte, cause he’d be a fun person to have to keep your morale up at the end of the world.
So, the zombie apocalypse is here and you only have 3 songs to keep you going. Which songs are they?
Never Let It Die- Watsky
Phoenix- Fall Out Boy
Cold Cold Cold- Cage The Elephant
How did you go from doing the voice of Barbie commercials to taking down villains on Twitch?
I’ve been doing voiceovers for a while, whenever they pop up. I have two sides to my personality cause I love horror but at the same time I like cute, happy girly stuff. There’s so much to look at and enjoy in everything. Crazy special effects gore, happy endings that warm your heart, I love it all.
What’s your goal? Or your dream?
It sounds cliche, but happiness. I keep my dreams big but my goals small. I like to focus on each step. I just want to make people happy and leave the world better than I found it.
As someone who’s worked on both sides, what, for you, is the key difference between digital and traditional media?
Both are really different depending on the scale. In a major picture, everyone has a schedule and a place and you have to stay there. It’s a little more stressed and high pace. With digital, there’s nothing really set in stone cause you’re your own boss and you don’t know if it’s gonna take off or if you’re getting anything out of it. At the end of the day, regardless of platform, you’re creating content.
Your journey is absolutely mind-blowing, how do you process the roller coaster you’ve been on?
I’m still figuring that out. I wake up most of the time in awe. I never thought of Twitch as a job, but now I focus on it and do it multiple times a week. Sometimes I sit and start happy crying cause I don’t understand everyone’s love and generosity. I don’t know what I do that makes people happy, but I’m going to keep doing it. As an actor, you face rejection every day, so to come into this much love is amazing. I’m in awe of it.
Would you ever go full traditional or full digital? If something called to me in traditional I would definitely give it my all, but I’d never fully stop streaming or creating content in other ways. I love interacting with the community there, it makes me so happy. I could never just drop it like that.
Do you know how awesome you are?
No, that’s not a word I would use to describe myself.
Chelsea may not think of herself as awesome, but the multitude of people who tune into her streams and get excited when she pops up in YouTube videos definitely do. In a way, the societal shift from traditional to digital media is a huge piece of her story. Who knows, she could’ve been the next coming of age teen movie actress, or the single survivor in a b list horror film, instead, she’s our digital zombie loving hero, and so much more. She’s bringing joy to so many people every day. For most of us, she entered our lives six years ago through React, and now we watch her freak out when people donate in Twitch, we donate to charity streams, and we even make jokes about her gaming chair and it’s plans to take over the world. Chelsea is a genuine person and a genuine entertainer. I can’t wait to see what happens next.