"I actually am kind of a fan of it," admits Antonio Garza when I ask how she's finding quarantine. "To a certain extent," she clarifies. That's maybe not surprising, considering the 17-year-old beauty vlogger is most often found alone in her bedroom blending eyeshadow, playing Roblox, employing her trademark self-deprecating humor and spending countless hours editing her YouTube videos.
Lockdown has forced Garza "to get a lot of work done, which I'm not usually very good at doing." Fans know this from the long stretches between the influencer's videos, which she frequently apologizes for on camera, but when you're a famous teenager, you can't really be expected to stay inside all day. That's why quarantine has been somewhat of a blessing in disguise for Garza. "Having to be forced to stay home has really helped me spend time with myself for the first time in a long time. It's really helped me get so many more videos out than usual and focus on myself more, which is something that I think I needed."
When Garza first started gaining traction on YouTube in 2018, the beauty space was beginning to feel stale. A core group of influencers dominated the platform with videos that centered on makeup reviews and challenges, and while their off-screen drama provided plenty of entertaining gossip, their content became somewhat rote. Garza was a welcome disruption, combining the familiar intimacy of "get ready with me" videos with the irreverent editing styles popularized by vloggers like Emma Chamberlain. The fact that she was happy to laugh at herself and invite her viewers to laugh with her helped, as did her knack for meme-worthy content like turning herself into the cowboy emoji or sneaking into her old school after dropping out to enroll in online courses.
Over Zoom, PAPER caught up with Garza — in full glam, wig and all — to learn exactly how many hours it takes her to edit her videos, the most important steps in becoming a baddie and the other YouTubers she'd most like to collab with.
You've been on YouTube for a couple of years now. What did you set out to do when starting your channel? Did you feel like there was something missing from the beauty space?
A little bit. I had that thought when I was starting, but I was mostly just starting for myself. I wasn't really thinking about the community like I do now, but now looking back there was something missing and hopefully that was something that I was able to give to people in the beauty community.
When you did start, what was more important to you, making beauty content or making videos that were going to make people laugh?
A hundred percent making people laugh. That's all I care about in life. That's what I was really seeking for when making videos, because I knew that's what the viewer was going to take with them when they were done watching the video — not, "Oh, how did I learn to do the smokey eye today?"
Your editing style has really become your signature and replicated across YouTube. Were there people who influenced that or did you figure it out intuitively?
Prior to starting YouTube, I used to always edit videos as a child and would use iMovie which is what I started using when I made my own videos. I didn't think of doing that in actual YouTube videos until I watched Emma Chamberlain. Obviously, she was a huge inspiration for me at the time because her and I were doing similar things.
Another hallmark of your videos is how self-deprecating you are. It always feels like you're in on the joke, and you're really open about your anxiety, about depression. Is turning that into comedy something that helps you actually handle that in your real life?
I think so, because laughing about hard issues, no matter what it is, helps so much more than sitting in my bed and dwelling about them. I also find that when I make jokes off of them in the videos, I read the comments and a lot of people are saying they deal with similar things. Making fun of myself always can make them feel better about it. It really helps me personally, myself making the jokes and also seeing that other people are going through similar things. When I see that, it makes me feel less alone in any sort of issue I'm going through.
Do you ever look back at your old videos and say, "I wish I hadn't said that" or "I wish I'd talked more about this thing"? Do you feel really good about everything you've put out?
For the most part I felt fine with everything. I always watch back my old videos and I think, "That was good," I always laugh at myself, which maybe a little bit self-conceited. I don't think I've had an instance where I have watched back and I thought to myself, "Hmm, should've said that." I always think I do a pretty good job and that's handed over to my editing, because I'm going through a video so many times, at least more than I'm assuming a regular YouTuber would. When I'm going through and watching, if there's anything that's touchy or shouldn't be in a YouTube video or I think the audience wouldn't like, it always ends up being cut out.
How long does it typically take you to edit a video?
If it's a video that's going to end up being around 10 minutes, I may be able to get it done with two days of fully editing, committing that day to editing. Sometimes if it's a video that's going to be around 20-25 minutes, then I'll find myself editing for 30-40 hours straight and it takes a lot out of me.
Do you get sick of looking at your own face and hearing your own voice?
[Laughs] Every single time I sit down to edit a new video, I look at it and I'm like, "Oh, I don't want to see this. I don't want any of this." I get over it of course, but that is definitely something I go through, which is why I really try to switch my look up in every video. I'll try to do something either new with my hair, with my makeup, at least nowadays I'm starting to try to do that because I'm bored of looking at myself.
One of my favorite videos of yours was recreating your old makeup. What is it like to look back on your evolution and use it as content?
When I think back to the way I used to be as a person, I'm really happy that I used to be gross and cringe-worthy, because now it makes it so fun to look back and laugh at it, and to be able to laugh at my old self with other people too. It's really fun, which is kind of dark, but it's weird also, thinking back to the head space I was in back then. I would never have thought so many people would've known me back then. I definitely do see myself in the future, doing the same exact thing. I don't know if what I'm doing right now is going to be cringe-worthy in a few years. Maybe if it is then I'll laugh at myself now, and in a few years and everyone will laugh too.
I mean, you're 17. You definitely will at some point look back and cringe.
Yeah. [Laughs] In three years [I'll look back and] literally hate myself right now, but right now I'm doing fine, so I don't even care.
Who are some other creators you would want to collab with?
Brentman Rock is someone who makes me laugh and someone who I want to collab with. I want to collab with Nikita Dragun, I feel like that'd be really fun. A lot of the fan base thinks we have a similar vibe and we've met before, we're different people, but I feel like it would be such a fun dynamic between us.
Well you're both baddies, obviously.
That's the goal. I don't really like doing collabs that much. That's a fun fact about me. They are too stressful to film and edit. Especially for me because I don't really like looking at myself with other people. If they're editing it, I'll be in your video, but if I have to edit it, I don't know. One of my goals was to collab with Tana Mongeau, and I recently did that, so very proud of myself on that one.
One of the things that gets talked about a lot in the beauty community is all the drama and infighting and people having tea with each other, but you seem to be really free of that. Is it intentional? As of yet you are uncanceled.
Exactly, and I hope it stays that way for a while. I just talked to my friend, "How have I not been canceled yet?" And I was thinking, "Oh, because I don't do anything." That's why I haven't been canceled. It's a conscious act for me to not start drama with anyone because that kind of drama between two people, I don't like doing that. If there's any miscommunication between me and another person, it's always been handled off social media, because I think it's really pointless to fight with someone publicly.
So because I make the decision not to involve drama with social media, when it comes to other people and fights, that has really kept me out of drama. I imagine if I did bring all my fights and all my bad situations to social media, I probably would have gotten into a scandal by now. I just don't think there's a point.
I always am conscious of things that could be seen as offensive to anyone or tone deaf. I try to make everyone feel good and that's kind of my vibe. I just want to make everyone laugh, of course, and so I found it pretty easy to stay out of scandals. Hopefully it stays that way.
That seems like a really mature mindset for someone your age. Is that something you picked up along the way or have you gotten any advice from other people in the industry?
Yeah, it's a lesson that I've taught myself through being in so much drama in middle school and high school. I was that person who was always in drama over something. There were just a few instances where I went through a whole bunch of situations, and maybe I did post about them on my Snapchat story, maybe I did post that on my Instagram Story, Twitter or whatever. Through that, I learned by looking back at the situation that it's the same thing, just because you're not really popular, it's like having these kinds of fights or scandals and stuff, it brought me down a lot at the time. It was not fun. So why would I want to do that now when I have a following? I can't even imagine how horrible that would be now to have other people's opinions on any bad situations.
You love a good clickbait title. What is the secret to crafting the perfect clickbait title?
Whenever I'm thinking of a title, I never am going to clickbait it too badly. If I'm going to clickbait you, I'm going to make sure the video at least somewhat applies to what the title is. I'll always start with the concept of the video and I'll think, What is the juiciest, most interesting thing I'm going to be doing and talking about in this video? I'll come up with all these crazy titles and then I'll actually just ask all my friends, "Is this too much? Is this too boring? Would you click?" That's how I end up with my final title, which is always just a little bit clickbait, but it's the fun of it.
I noticed that you started featuring your family a little bit more in your videos. Was that something that you all talked about or just something that happened organically?
That's been one of my most requested videos for the past year: do your mom's makeup, show us your mom or show us your brother. I've tiptoed into it because bringing my family on social media scares me. It doesn't really seem to scare them at all, but it scares me just because of comments and stuff. I never want someone who's a troll to say something mean and have feelings hurt or anything so I've been hesitant. Same goes for friends who I've brought on my channel or maybe don't want to bring on my channel. Something just clicked in my mind recently and I thought, Why not show everyone the person who raised me? She has a strong head. The worst anyone's ever said about her is that she looks like Mariah Carey and she learned to deal with that. So she's not getting hate comments.
That's a compliment, honestly.
She hates Mariah Carey. I tell her it's a compliment, but she's like, "Hmm, she's annoying." I'm like, okay-
She's the ultimate skinny legend.
Right, she's an icon. She loves being on camera. She's a camera whore, so she's thriving whenever she gets to be on camera. So hopefully one day I can make a whole video with her.
You have a really huge following. How has that impacted your real life, both at home and then with friends from school. What is that like to navigate?
It's been life-changing, obviously. Me and my close friend group, in terms of the way we treat each other, nothing has changed, which I'm really, really thankful for. Our dynamics are the exact same as it was before I even started YouTube. As a group we've had to adapt. If we just want to go shopping, we all have an instinct now where if someone's looking at me or if there's a group of people coming, we know without even looking, we just know. So we all have to deal with me getting stopped a lot. If we're just going to the mall, our trip to the mall is probably going to take an hour longer than it usually would because I'm going to be stuck a lot, taking pictures with people, which I love, of course and I miss right now. I haven't done it in so long. There are times where it's scary or where concerning things will happen, but we all learned to live with it. Same goes to my family, of course. But overall, I'm really thankful for it and I wouldn't trade it for anything now.
What's the first thing you're going to do once the pandemic is over, if it's ever over?
If there was one day where it ended, which of course is not how it works, I would immediately go to Hawaii. I would travel, I would go to Europe. I don't know, do all my summer plans I had to cancel. I would do that, but of course it's not how it works. So I don't know. I want to travel, but I know that I probably am going to be too scared to, at least until the end of this year. When it gets more safe to be out in general, I definitely am going to go shopping because I have not shopped. I've online shopped a lot, but I miss walking around shopping centers.
What do you think is a better feeling: a really good laugh or a really good cry?
Dang, that's a hard question. I would say laugh because it's like, "Okay, having a good time laughing. Ha ha." But a good cry hits differently. Like when you haven't cried in like three months, and you cry it all out. It is an amazing feeling.
I personally have never gone three months without crying, but good for you.
I will go through periods where I don't cry and it's weird, but that's when the cry hits differently. So I guess I would say crying, even though it's more depressing, it's worth it. It's kind of fun, and then after you feel like you just cried out all your toxins and you feel amazing.
I have to say one of the big things on my mind today is Chromatica. Are you a Little Monster?
Tell me why, literally right when I was getting ready, I was listening to "Sour Candy." I am obsessed with it. I was a Lady Gaga stan since third grade, which really says a lot about me. I knew all the words to all of Born This Way. All of The Fame, I think by the end of my third grade year, that was when I started stanning, and I have stanned ever since. Of course, I kind of stanned other people as I got older and fell out of my Lady Gaga phase. But with this album coming out, I am ready to start stanning again.
If you had to make one Gaga song the anthem of your life, what would it be?
The song that describes my life would be either "Bloody Mary" or "Government Hooker" from Born This Way.
Wow. The taste really jumped out. If you could give your fans one piece of advice on getting through the next 15 years of quarantine, what would it be?
What's helped me most and what I would tell other people to do is, call your friends, keep in touch with people in your life, even if it's people who you were kind of friends with in school. It helps so much to have friends who you can call, and people you can talk to because I find myself getting so lonely for days at a time, and it just is so sad. I will forget to talk to my friends, but then when I talk to my friends I'm happy. No matter what you're doing, if you're still doing school, if you're not, make time to talk to the people you love, because it will help you so much.
What's your favorite way to practice self-care?
Face masks. They always make me feel like my life is together when it's not, but in that moment it is.
What are the most important steps to be a baddie?
Well, of course, the way you look, your makeup matters. You can have the baddie look, but if you don't act like a baddie, then you're not a baddie. Another really important step is you have to smell like a baddie. Find a good perfume, find your scent that makes... I'm not going to say that makes the boys want you because who cares about the boys. But you have to find a scent that is attractive and then just carry yourself like you're a baddie, like you're that bitch.
A wig doesn't hurt.
That is the tea. They're on Amazon for $40.
How many wigs do you own?
I feel like 20 maybe, not that much. Maybe a little bit too much. I have a lot. They're all sitting over here on the pile on the ground because I'm a little bit messy. I need to stop spending money on them because I wear them two times and then get bored of them and buy a new one.
You know what, being a little bit messy is kind of your thing and has literally made you famous. So I guess the secret to success is to be a little messy?
A little bit. But not too much.
Messy enough to make them laugh, but together enough to keep them watching?
That's the best thing I've ever heard. I'm literally going to remember that and put that as my bio.
Great, I'll send you an invoice.
Welcome to "You've Been Served," Rose Dommu's alternately irreverent and incisive look at beauty, ranging from the deeply personal to pop cultural — essays, product guides, interviews with artists/influencers/specialists and deep dives into the beauty industry's impact on internet culture.
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