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james charles

What you need to know about James Charles, the teen YouTuber whose meet-and-greet shut down a city

The 19 year-old caused traffic chaos in Birmingham this week.

THERE’S BEEN A lot of chatter about YouTuber James Charles over the last few days, and for good reason.

A scheduled meet-and-greet with Charles at the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham caused traffic chaos as Birmingham City Council admitted to being “unprepared” for the 8,000 strong attendees.

YouTube remains a pop culture blind spot for many, with this incident showing how unprepared event organisers can be when it comes to the platform’s followers.

YouTubers can have far bigger followings than TV and film stars and yet have a substantially lower profile in traditional media outlets – a point Charles sought to prove to LBC Birmingham present James O’Brien when he called in to his show.

He explained to the baffled host that despite the fact that he didn’t know who he was, 8,000 attendees was “surprisingly normal” for an event like this. (You can listen back to the segment here, if you fancy.)

How did he get to this point, though?

Great question! I’m glad you asked. 

As already covered, Charles is a 19 year-old self-taught makeup artist and social media influencer from from Bethlehem, New York.

Although he started his YouTube channel in 2015, mainstream success alluded him until 2016 when a tweet of Charles’ retaking his yearbook photos using his own ring light went viral. (It was later found out to be photoshopped.) (9)

In the same year, he was announced as the first boy to be named face of CoverGirl cosmetics. 

James Charles / Instagram James Charles / Instagram / Instagram

Since then, the only way has been up for Charles. Currently, he has 13.7 million followers on Instagram, as well as just under 14 million subscribers on YouTube. Late last year, Charles collaborated with cosmetic line Morphe on a palette that has sold out within hours twice. 

On top of that, he’s worked with celebrities like Demi Lovato, Kim Kardashian and Mario Dedivanovic.

Late last year, Charles was forced to publicly ask fans to stop turning up to his home asking for pictures and autographs, calling it “completely disrespectful”.

He’s also been involved in his fair share of controversies.

In early 2017, Charles joked on Twitter about contracting the Ebola virus while visiting Africa.

After initially blocking users who called him out, Charles apologised, saying his tweet was “extremely offensive and degrading”.

As his star continues to rise, he frequently features on YouTube drama channels. However, his loyal fanbase – which he refers to as “sisters” and “the sisterhood” – continue to stick by him and turn up in their droves to get a piece of him.

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