The Slatest

The YouTube Stars of the Democratic Debate

Connor Franta

Screen shot.

Tonight’s Democratic debate, produced in partnership by NBC News and YouTube, trotted out a series of YouTube stars to quiz the candidates. Who are these people? A brief primer.

Franchesca Ramsey

Her deal: Ramsey’s YouTube channel trades in funny explainers about modern identity politics (“5 Tips For Being an Ally”), social stunts (“Deep Talks With Uber Drivers”), and satirical takes on YouTube standards (her beauty tutorial spoof, “2016 Oscar Nominees Nail Tutorial,” exclusively features white polish shades.)

Most popular YouTube video:Shit White Girls Say … To Black Girls,” Ramsey’s politicized spin on the viral “Shit Girls Say” videos, went viral in its own right and catapulted Ramsey to Internet stardom.

Side hustles: Ramsey also films natural hair tutorials, writes for Upworthy, and hosts a weekly webseries for MTV News.

Connor Franta

His deal: Franta is a 23-year-old YouTube lifestyle guru (“How to Approach the Guy You Like”) and viral-baiting skit star (“Types of Guys/Girls on the Internet”) whose claim to 5 million YouTube followers impressed candidate Hillary Clinton. He came out through his vlog in 2014.

Most popular YouTube video:British vs America: How We Do It,” a jaunty primer on cultural differences, created in partnership with Franta’s fellow blonde-highlighted, pearly-toothed vlogger Marcus Butler.

Side hustles: Franta has also released a memoir, A Work in Progress, and fronts an e-commerce brand, Common Culture, that hawks apparel, music, and (coming soon!) coffee.


Its deal: MinuteEarth produces quick, cutesy animated videos that answer scientific questions both big  (“Do We Have to Get Old And Die?”) and small (“Do Fetuses Poop?”).

Most popular YouTube video:Where Did Earth’s Water Come From?” (Basically, meteoroids).

Side hustles: MinuteEarth was launched by Henry Reich, the creator of the similar science-y explainer channel MinutePhysics.

Marques Brownlee

His deal: Also known as “MKBHD”—that’s his initials, plus HD as in high def—Brownlee is a self-described geek who puts new gadgets through their paces (“Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Impressions!”) and holds consumers’ hands as they road-test their own devices (“10 Apple Watch Questions: Answered!”).

Most popular YouTube video:iPhone 6 Sapphire Crystal Display!,” a 2014 explainer (and scratch test) on the new iPhone’s new surface.

Side hustles: He also plays ultimate, as in Frisbee.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the Democratic primary.