Northwestern CSA welcomes KevJumba as 2019 fall speaker


Vivian Xia/The Daily Northwestern

Asian American activist, blogger and humanitarian Kevin Wu answers questions from CSA executive board members during a moderated Q&A.

Vivian Xia, Reporter

Asian American blogger, activist and humanitarian Kevin Wu described his ascent to early YouTube stardom, well before big names like James Charles or JoJo Siwa.

Northwestern’s Chinese Students Association hosted Wu on Saturday at Lutkin Hall as their 2019 fall speaker. Wu joined YouTube in 2006 just a year after the site started, rising to fame under the username KevJumba. Since then, he’s garnered over 323 million views.

“My first video was me dancing in my backyard,” Wu said. “It wasn’t until a week later I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to try this vlogging thing,’ and I posted a video of me — it was called ‘Looks Are Everything’ on YouTube — and it was just me talking to a camera.”

Motivated by comments he received, Wu posted a video a week later called “I Have to Deal with Stereotypes.” Later, a YouTube desk editor from Japan reached out, and Wu ended up getting featured after improving his video.

“So all those people that I was like, ‘Oh my god they’re getting hundreds of comments,’ that became me,” Wu said.

Following his introduction speech, a few members of CSA’s executive board and members of the audience asked Wu questions in a moderated conversation. Then students could take pictures and chat with him in a meet-and-greet after the talk.

During the Q&A, he revealed that at 17 years old, he was the youngest person accepted into the YouTube Partner Program to get paid for his videos.

“Once I started getting paid, I’m like, ‘OK, there’s another layer to this,’” Wu said. “What if they find out I’m like only doing these videos or something because I’m getting paid to do it? Are they going to not be as interested in me anymore?”

So Wu created a second channel known as JumbaFund, where all the money made from the channel would go to a charity of the audience’s choice. Wu has continued his humanitarian work through communication with his fans.

Medill freshman Elizabeth Yoon said she didn’t know much about KevJumba coming into the event, but she went with some friends who were excited to see him.

“After seeing it, I thought it was super interesting,” Yoon said. “I thought he was a cool person, and I definitely want to check out his videos now.”

Other audience members, like Medill sophomore Mary Yang, said they were familiar with KevJumba’s work.

Yang said she watched his videos growing up and was excited to see him “in the flesh.”

“He was one of the only Asian American YouTubers at the time,” Yang said. “And it was really cool that a famous guy was so relatable.”

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