If you’re like most people, you’ve spent much of the last year cloistered at home and finding new ways to spend time. A lot of people ended up turning to YouTube, TikTok, and other social media platforms to while away the hours. What was once a place to find diversion on a slow night became a lifeline for people struggling not to feel alone in a very lonely world. It has brought monetary success to the influencers creating this content that people are gobbling up, but it has also created a great responsibility. They can put out whatever they want; but many keenly feel the duty they have to their subscribers to uplift them and carry them through the dark moments of their life.
One such content creator with a heart of gold and a desire to enrich the lives of her subscribers is Azra, the brilliant mind behind the popular YouTube channel Azzyland. With over 13.5 million subscribers and the kind of gentle honesty people crave in their influencers, Azra is exactly who so many people needed to help get them through the past year. But Azra is not done yet; she has plans for the future, and they all involve being the generous, thoughtful, human-centered creator she’s been all along. But how did a popular cosplayer go from virtual anonymity to a multi-million subscriber phenomenon? CELEB sat down with Azra to ask some questions, and discover what makes her so unique and successful.
Azra’s Life and Early Career
Azra was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. And although the charming influencer seems like a social butterfly to her viewers, once upon a time, she did not feel like she fit in. Speaking with CELEB, Azra shared, “Growing up was a little hard for me, I didn’t always feel like I fit in with the other kids so I spent a lot of my free time watching anime and playing video games.” Although she may have felt like an outcast, Azra excelled in school and graduated with double honors degrees in chemistry and biology.
A love for the anime and video games that got her through adolescence led her to cosplaying, where people dress up in elaborate and often breathtaking interpretations of their favorite fictional characters. Azra explains, “My love for video games and anime got me really into cosplay. It honestly just started out as a hobby but before I knew it I was getting a lot of recognition for it and getting invited to conventions and gaming events. This led to me getting offered a few hosting gigs on existing YouTube channels, which I decided to give a shot and I absolutely LOVED it!”
Hosting on YouTube gave Azra inspiration, and would change the course of her career. The influencer continues, “That’s when I knew that YouTube was something I could see a future in. So I started my own channel and the rest is history! Never in my wildest dreams did I think something that started as a hobby would take off the way it did. I feel so grateful for where Azzyland has ended up. Dreams really do come true!”
Azzyland Becomes a Sensation
And they do indeed. The Azzyland channel has become a sensation. In 2019 alone, the channel garnered a breathtaking 1.9 billion views. The YouTube sensation wanted to create a place for people to find refuge in a crazy world, and clearly that goal is being reached as more and more people tune in every year to watch Azra’s reaction vids, challenges, collaborations, and vlogs of her daily life. Azra thoughtfully explained, “Growing up, I knew first hand how it feels to not always fit in or feel liked. That’s actually why I created Azzyland. It was my sanctuary, an escape where everyone is treated with kindness and love. Then something I never imagined possible happened, it became real. It grew into a living, breathing community that connects millions of people through a platform of positivity. A place where everyone is encouraged to embrace and express the truest version of themselves.”
Fans and YouTubers alike have come to adore the Toronto native, and she takes her responsibility to her fans seriously. The superstar influencer believes in what she does, even though it’s not always the easiest job for someone who holds themselves to high standards. “Being able to connect and have a positive influence on such a large number of people and getting the chance to share a part of myself with them is something I find really special and hold close to my heart. I love getting their messages and reading their comments hearing about the impact I have.”
Azra adds, “I think the hardest part is trying to make that many people happy, I’m a little hard on myself and can sometimes take some of the criticisms a little too personally. But I try to keep it in perspective, you can’t please everyone!”
Plans for the Future
Although that’s certainly true, it’s hard to imagine who the likeable influencer isn’t pleasing. The Azzyland content is truly the refuge she intends it to be, and especially during the pandemic, people tuning in to watch were transported away from their cares for awhile. Watching Azzyland feels like Zooming with a friend, and her fans are loyal and full of praise for the superstar influencer.
And they will continue to see their favorite YouTuber in the future; she plans to stick around to keep giving people a place to escape the world, and she’s even trying her hand at a new public career. “I’m not sure where I’ll be in 10 years but I hope to use my channel and voice to support and mentor more creators who have the same vision as I do, creating a more accepting space online where people are comfortable in expressing and being themselves.
I’d also like to focus more on projects that help people outside of online communities and start my own charities and foundations. Other than that, I’ve taken on acting as a new hobby, so we’ll see where that takes me as well!”
Azzyland on the big screen? Absolutely. But in the meantime, a new project can give fans another way to connect with their favorite star. Azra recently launched an online shop, where fans can buy Azzyland merch. “I actually just launched my first ever online store! It features apparel and accessories I personally handpicked and designed. I was really focused on the quality and wanted to make sure it was something I think my fans would love so I kind of took the hard way and launched the company independently, rather than partnering with any merchants or agencies. It was a really gratifying experience and I can’t wait to create more!”
Azzyland Up Close and Personal
We couldn’t speak with one of YouTube’s biggest stars without getting the inside scoop, and the inside scoop is: chocolate. When asked what her favorite food is, Azra wittily replied, “Chocolate. Definitely chocolate, I actually used to have a bit of a chocolate addiction so now I try to save chocolate treats for special occasions. Everything in moderation! *hides the chocolate bars sticking out of her purse*.”
And Azra wouldn’t dish the deets on her dating life, responding with signature mix of humor and honesty, “I don’t kiss and tell! Well, maybe I’ll tell, but only when I feel comfortable and feel secure in the relationship. Speaking from experience I’ve learned having a public relationship can sometimes be challenging on both myself and my partner.”
But she did have some wisdom for viewers of the channel. People often view influencers as infallible, and compare themselves to impossible standards. Azra doesn’t want that, and shares, “We’re more similar than you think! I think because they’re always seeing me at my best, it’s easy to forget that I’m a regular person who also has doubts and insecurities like everyone else.”
Azra may just be like everyone else, and is certainly a very real and delightful person. But with such a high-profile life, the influencer has had to come to terms with the weirdness of having 13.5 million followers. “I’m not sure it’s ever something I can get used to. A lot of times I forget and then I get recognized by a fan and asked to take a picture and I’m like ‘oh yaaa!’. Regardless, I definitely consider it a blessing and I am grateful for every minute.”
While Azra is grateful for her fans and the experience, fans in turn are infinitely grateful for her. The Azzyland channel is a home for those who need a friend, for those who need a laugh, and for those who need a moment to not focus on what’s happening in their lives. With so many toxic influencers out there, Azzyland’s Azra is a breath of fresh air and a promise of kindness. Whatever she chooses to do from here, Azra can’t help but meet with success because she has the ultimate three: intelligence, drive, and kindness. We can’t wait to see where life takes her next.