Sticks and stones could’ve broken her bones, but it was a botched stunt at the 2015 Streamy Awards that really hurt comedian GloZell — but not for long. After rising to the top of her game as creator viral hits like My Push up Bra Will Help Me Get My Man (25 million views) and her popular Cinnamon Challenge video (50 million views), the 43-year old internet star took a nasty tumble last year at the YouTube Space L.A., shattering her leg in several places. So, what was the first thing she did after pushing the pieces of her lower extremity back into position? Naturally, she took a selfie. Such is life for a woman who’s used to putting herself on display for millions of people online, a path that’s taken her from the White House (over 1 million people watched her interview Barack Obama last year) to Hollywood (she has roles in The Wedding Ringer and the upcoming animated movie Trolls).
Still, GloZell took that (painful) batch of lemons and made lemonade, putting a comical spin on a relatable topic as she documented her recovery on the web. Now, she’s opening up about her life in a new way with her first book, Is You Okay?, a collection of personal stories about her marriage and divorce to reflections on her rise to prominence and her recent struggles with fertility.
Check out our full interview with GloZell below, and watch her analyze Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” in a video she recorded exclusively for EW above. Is You Okay? hits stores June 7.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s get this out of the way first. I have to ask you, right now, in this moment: Is you okay?
GloZell: I am okay! Yes, I is okay!
So okay that you wrote a book! Did it cross your mind that writing a book might be sort of traditional for someone who’s pushed the boundaries of new media online?
I’m bringing reading back. I’m making reading great again!
It’s not too traditional; people want to know more about you than just online. There’s things I talk about in the book, like my upbringing, people in my life, and different challenges that helped me get to where I am now… People look at me and they’re like, “Oh, she’s so confident,” but it comes from a long line of mistakes and a great support system, and sometimes a terrible support system, and all of that is included in Is You Okay? Finally, the answer is: Yes! I is okay!
Did you feel different knowing these stories were going to be in print and in people’s hands as opposed to coming across in videos?
It was much more difficult this time. I went do the audio book where I was actually reading it, and that’s when it hit me. I was like, “Girl, you done put yourself out there on Front Street!” I’m also talking about family members. I was like, “Well I’m not going to be invited to the family reunion.” When you’re talking about yourself, you also include other people; that doesn’t mean they want to be talked about. I did change the names to protect the un-innocent.
I really enjoyed the way you told the opening story about breaking your foot at the 2015 Streamy Awards, though it was obviously very painful for you. You took a selfie right after the break, so do you think, as a person who documents her life online, there’s a part of you that sees something unfortunate like that as an opportunity? You made that moment funny.
[Laughs] I knew everybody who was there… we were doing a show, and people were already taking pictures! I just wanted to make sure my friend, Miranda Sings, got a shot because she was the only one not taking pictures. She was so concerned. A lot of people thought it was a part of the show… I don’t understand how you thought I pretended to move my leg back in place! It was there; everyone was already filming, so I just went with that. When you document your life all the time, things happen, and that was something that happened, so you might as well film it… A lot of people don’t want to show the bad stuff, but it’s the bad stuff that helps you appreciate and get to the good stuff.
I can’t believe you’ve been doing this for this long. It’s been six years since your “Tik Tok” and “Rude Boy” lyrics analysis videos! How do you keep coming up with ideas for new content after this long?
I’m still here! There are so many great YouTubers who might have a hit, but they come and they go. Maintaining and being here, just being able to relate to what’s going on and putting my spin on the world, I bring not my age, but my my wisdom, and that’s something some of the younger ones can’t contribute. They haven’t lived, they haven’t gone through heartache or gone through divorce or traveling. The kids are laughing [at my videos] because they’re funny and I look funny and it’s very physical, and the older people are like, “Ok, I been through that, I understand what she’s saying. Like, why is Kesha brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack? We were just thinking the same thing!”
Speaking of Kesha, what do you think about all of this drama going on with Dr. Luke?
That was my girl! I was calling her Keisha, ketchup, whatever. I’m glad that she’s coming back and I hope [the legal drama] finishes up really quickly, because I can’t talk about her when she’s down. I think she appreciates me saying stuff because her fans like me and they know I’m not trying to be mean. I hope it works out. I’d like her to do more of her music.
I hate to put you on the spot, but since we’re talking about lyric videos, can you improvise one right now?
[Laughs]. Let’s see… Rihanna! Work work work work work work; ok, what? How much work does it take to move your behind, honey? I don’t understand the job situation you’re going through… There’s also J.Lo, who’s like, “I aint your mama,” but yeah, you are, ‘cause you about my age, honey. You somebody’s mama, ok? You got the twins and the young guy you’re dating, you his mama too! Let’s not get fooled by that. Beyoncé and her Lemonade; I guess Jay Z says he got 99 problems but a b— ain’t one, but, yes, it is.
Did you face any skepticism from publishers when you had the idea for the book? Do you think certain people are still wary of accepting YouTube stars as legitimate performers or actors?
Yes, because they’re like, ok, YouTube girl, but what is the substance? A lot of YouTubers don’t have a lot of life experience. Growing up in two different worlds — white world, black world, and also going to college and having some experiences and getting married and coming here and getting married again and now of course the fertility thing — there are a lot of things that relate to each other. I was talking to the President like it was nothing, It’s all good. I was much stronger then. People were like, “Are you terrified? Are you nervous?” I’m like, this is going to be easy. He’s one person to talk to and he’s fine and he smells good. Don’t tell Michelle I said that, but he did smell good.
Yeah, like I have her phone number. I’m going to call her up and be like, “Michelle, listen to what GloZell said!”
Like, Girrrrrrl! [Laughs]
Seriously though, having accomplished so much, how do you see yourself evolving and changing?
Well what’s changing now is there’s a child coming via surrogate, and I’m looking forward to the new stories that are going to relate to mothers and parents and children in a different way. That’s what’s going to parlay next. There will be another book, more stories, more life experiences, so I’m ready; bring it on!