Even though it’s just the name of a weekly post, we feel a little strange describing this week’s featured creator as a “YouTuber”; the reason why will be clear shortly. Regardless, there’s somebody making videos on the site right now that we think you really, really need to see.
Meet Ashley Mardell.
Based in Minneapolis, Ashley is a fast-rising creator hell-bent on breaking the “traditional vlogging” mould. She first appeared on our radar a couple of years ago when guest-appearing on an episode of Hannah Hart’s My Drunk Kitchen, and since then has totally come into her own as a content creator and member of the YouTube community. Here’s just a few reasons why Ashley is one of our new favourites:
1. She encourages positive discussion in social justice issues.
Openly bi/pansexual (and engaged to fiancé Grace Hiltner), LGBTQ+ representation is an important issue to Ashley. Discussion on gender and sexuality drives a large portion of her creative content; from poetic discussion of bi/pan-erasure to cute AF vlogs with Grace, Ashley strives to celebrate and normalise queer minorities on YouTube.
One of Ashley’s recent videos was a collab with Jackson Bird; a recently out trans YouTuber. Instead of just making assumptions on being a trans ally based on her own knowledge, Ashley elected to work with another, more experienced person to help educate herself and her audience. And THAT’s how you do it!
2. She’s got some awesome friends!
Speaking of working with other creators, Ashley has become something of a “serial collaborator”. Seizing every available opportunity to create content with friends and fellow YouTubers alike, Ashley adds her own breed of positivity into the video of any other YouTuber she works with.
UK YouTuber Hannah Witton’s last instalment of “Drunk Advice” is a perfect example of not just how at home Ashley feels in other people’s videos, but also the way she is willing to take part on some of the site’s most unconventional styles of video-making; you don’t see many other the big YouTube stars get openly drunk on camera.
Which brings us to…
3. She isn’t afraid to keep it really, really real.
In an industry where hundreds of successful YouTubers are afraid to be reactionary in any way, Ashley’s honesty is a breath of fresh air: not just in the way she handles LGBTQ+ and feminist issues, but also her observation and critique of the YouTube platform, community and industry as a whole.
Even her own videos aren’t safe; in the video above titled “I’m Done Being A YouTuber” (and there it is), Ashley turns her dissatisfaction at her own content into a brilliant piece of spoken-word, that kicked off an exciting regeneration for her channel.
4. Her creativity makes her vlogs stand WAY out.
By now you’re probably familiar with the typical vlogging format – 3-point lighting, chirpy royalty-free ukulele music, eye-catching titles, etc. While Ashely’s videos don’t deviate completely away from that, her creative streak means that her videos always go an extra mile and a half.
In “YOU’RE NOT GAY ENOUGH”, Ashley opens up on her experiences with bisexual/pansexual erasure, a key LGBTQ+ talking point. But rather than just talk at the camera for a few minutes in a wordy, well-informed diatribe, Ashley turned to poetry. Her spoken word account of her first Pride, and people’s reactions towards her while in a relationship with someone male, make for a really passionate video that gets her point across much clearer.
All in all, Ashley Mardell is a refreshing all-rounder on YouTube that you would do well to keep an eye on, as she writes, drinks and collaborates her way to success!