By Shirley Li
Updated September 17, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Kevin Winter/SAs 2014/Getty Images

The Streamy Awards

  • TV Show

The Streamy Awards works like a paradox. The annual celebration, which for the first time will be broadcast on VH1 Thursday night, honors the best of the Internet, picking personalities and content creators nominated by fans and creators themselves.

And yet, it’s the Internet; how can any single awards show possibly choose what represents the best?

By being the Internet, says YouTube star Grace Helbig, a former Streamy winner and this year’s co-host. “The Streamys are the Internet personified,” she says. “Every person who comes out on stage is so unexpected, but so wonderfully welcome. It really feels like you’re clicking through a bunch of tabs in real life.”

Take this year’s eclectic lineup of announcers and performers, for example. Hailee Steinfeld, Future, Sean Kingston, and Sir Mix-A-Lot will all take the stage during the ceremony, alongside familiar online faces like Chelsea Briggs and GloZell Green, not to mention Helbig’s co-host Tyler Oakley. “It’s just this wonderful Internet vision boards that unfolds before your eyes,” Helbig says.

If that sounds overwhelming, Streamys co-founder Drew Baldwin says the awards aim to sift through, as he puts it, “this seemingly infinite sea of content.” “On YouTube alone, every minute, there’s 300 hours of video uploaded,” he tells EW. “I think there’s definitely a need for a curator, and in many ways, the Streamys serves as a discovery platform for new audiences.” To do that curating, the awards, which began five years ago, focuses on content creators who do what they do intentionally, Baldwin explains, helping to narrow things down from the “accidental viral videos.”

Then again, the web is constantly changing, and to Helbig, that means the Streamys will, too. The star talked to EW about what she’s anticipating for this year’s ceremony and the Internet’s future, and dishes on the mainstream pop culture celebrity she would love to see join YouTube.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with a simple question: Why should people watch the Streamys?

GRACE HELBIG: For total newbies, I think it’ll be beneficial to watch because it will be a grand, sweeping, educational event that offers what’s the best things happening on the Internet. It’s kind of a great crash course for them. For people that have some idea of what happens online, it’s just a really wonderful night for content creators across YouTube and other areas of online video to be celebrated for the content they’ve created throughout the year.

You also hosted last year. Can you tease anything happening on the show that makes it different this year, other than it being broadcast on VH1?

Well the co-host has changed. [Laughs] Tyler [Oakley] and I are good friends, but we’ve never done something like this together, so I think it’ll be really fun for us on a personal level to be able to co-host with each other. Every year, it gets bigger and better, and the room feels warmer, and this year it’s on TV and it’s streaming online at the same time, so it’s a real kind of new frontier. It feels like it’s really marking the beginnings of media changing. I know that happens every five minutes, that media changes, but I really think this is a great testament to it this year.

The Streamys honor so many different types of Internet personalities and content creators, it almost seems impossible to distill that variety down to a single, annual awards show. How do you feel about that? Are there ways you would like the Streamys to change in the future?

You know what, I’m not sure. I feel like awards shows like this kind of have to grow and evolve with how the platform itself grows and evolves, so it’s hard to say. It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen to the Internet. I think the Streamys does a great job each year, trying to incorporate categories that feel relevant for the time, and also with the amount of crossover that’s happening now, which I think can get really sensitive sometimes. The Internet is the Internet and when outsiders come in, it can feel a little threatening, but the Streamys makes everyone feel welcome.

You mentioned the Streamys wants to feel relevant to what’s happening in the online world. Recently, you uploaded a video with your reaction to the insensitive fat-shaming video a comedian posted that made the rounds. Will the Streamys touch on that news or news items like it, or more generally, the controversial side of the Internet? The web allows freedom for content creation, but that can work both ways.

I mean, I really said everything I wanted to say about it in the video that I posted to my channel. [Pauses] But I have been watching the conversations that have been continuing to happen, and it’s all very interesting, everything that’s happening. I know at the Streamys, we want to make sure that we cover everything interesting on the Internet, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to do that … I don’t want to give too much away before it happens, so I’m just going to say, you’ll have to tune in to find out.

On another note, then, there’s a wild mix of announcers and performers coming this year: Hailee Steinfeld, Sir Mix-a-Lot—

Who I’m particularly excited about! [Laughs]

So he’ll be there, along with other mainstream pop culture personalities. The Streamys also honors some of those mainstream personalities, like this year’s nomination for James Franco for his AOL series Making a Scene With James Franco. Is there anyone you’d like to see make the crossover into online video?

Ooooh, who would I really want to see pop onto the Internet? That’s a hard choice. I think I would love … I mean, my taste in television is questionable, but I would really love for the cast of Real Housewives, of all of them everywhere, to create, like, beauty guru YouTube channels. That would be really great. I would love to see how they do their hair and makeup for the reunion shows, I would love to see them give me some lifestyle tips, I would just like to see Sonja Morgan do like a Q&A or a livestream. I think they’re so raw and real on the show that I would love to see them push that a little bit on the Internet.

You should absolutely pitch that to Bravo.

Yeah, call up Andy Cohen! [Laughs]

The Streamy Awards airs Thursday, Sept. 17, at 10 p.m. ET on VH1 and will also be streamed in the video below:

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The Streamy Awards

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