Today, actress/comedian Brittany Furlan joins us for this week’s Conversation Series Interview on Monologue Blogger.
When Brittany took to Vine (over 4 billion loops) to creatively express herself, people noticed. Her talent for comedy built a following into the millions, making her the most well known female creator on Vine. Time magazine declared her one of the most popular influencers on the internet.
Brittany, when did you first get the sense that you were a performer?
Brittany Furlan: I think I have been a performer since birth. I wouldn’t be surprised if I tap danced out of my mother’s vagina.
Can you tell us about your background? Where exactly are you from? Did you go to any performing arts/acting schools? What was life as an actress/comedian like before venturing into digital media?
Brittany Furlan: I hail from the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, except I grew up in a suburb so that’s where all the assholes lived. I took theater classes all through elementary school and high school and performed in a thousand plays but I was still cool, I stuffed the other drama nerds in their lockers (jk I was a loser). Life was fucking terrible before vine. I ate lots of ramen, cried myself to sleep most nights, performed in a bunch of shit that no one saw and begged my landlord to let me pay him in handies (didn’t work).
Do you consider yourself a Content Creator and if so how would you go about defining what a content creator does?
Brittany Furlan: I mean I think anyone who creates anything is a content creator. It’s kind of a universal term. It’s not like anything special. I could create a macaroni necklace tutorial and I’d be a content creator. What I do mostly, is just fuck off. Mostly, I’m just myself, and sometimes people think it’s funny, and sometimes they think it’s quite the opposite.
How did you first get involved with creating content and expressing yourself via the internet? What tools did you first use? Do you work with different tools nowadays?
Brittany Furlan: I first started on the Internet with Vine. I was pretty inactive on my Instagram account, with only about 100 followers, and a couple pictures. I didn’t know shit about social media, I still don’t know shit about social media, I just saw a tool that was easy to use, and used the shit out of it. I had so much pent-up creative energy, that I just exploded all over vine. I was posting about five vines a day when I first started, I was like the Tasmanian devil on Coke (like if he was also a character actor) and people loved it.
When you first started out creating online, did you ever have doubts or feel like you were taking a risk? If so, how did you conquer those fears?
Brittany Furlan: No, I think the beautiful thing about it, and why I became so successful on it, was because I wasn’t caught up. I wasn’t on there to be famous, I wasn’t on there to make money, I was on there to perform; my intent was so genuine, that that’s why I think I had the success I did.
When did you first notice that you were growing in popularity? What was your initial reaction to it?
Brittany Furlan: Surprisingly, I grew pretty quickly. Like almost as soon as I started posting. Within a few weeks I had amassed 10,000 followers. At first I thought my dad was buying them for me because he knew how depressed I was, but then I called him and he had no idea what I was talking about so that was fun. I don’t know, it’s nice to be liked, it’s nice to have people appreciate your stuff; I suppose I was just pretty darn excited about the whole thing.
With more options today than ever, how do you manage all your different social media platforms? Is there a content strategy/schedule involved?
Brittany Furlan: Well, I hardly post on my vine anymore because people got really cruel and abusive (verbally) on there so I decided that I don’t need to subject myself to that. So I pushed most of my stuff to my Instagram (people seem nicer on there for some reason). I don’t follow any type of schedule particularly, I post what I want, when I want to, and if people want to unfollow me that’s cool. I don’t do it because I want followers, I do it because I have fun. I’m not as strategical as other youtubers/viners, because I’m not really an Internet person. I’m just a regular comedian/actor who happened to get popular on the Internet.
How do you go about leveraging one social media following to grow the next when you first get started on a new platform?
Brittany Furlan: Having the massive following that I have on social media is a positive and a negative in the entertainment industry. It’s a positive because when I audition for things, I also come with the ability to bring an audience or promote to a following. But the downside is, that a lot of entertainment industry people who fare from an older guard look at social media personalities as just that, and won’t cast them in big projects because they feel it cheapens it for some reason. Which hurts, because someone as myself, who is a trained actress and didn’t really know anything about social media, gets the same stigma and judgement. I think more and more though they’re giving social stars a chance, which is great.
How has the internet enhanced your career?
Brittany Furlan: Oh boy. I mean. It made my career. Like I said, I was knitting blankets and crying into my cereal before all of this. It gave me a platform to share my work with the world, and also not eat cup-of-noodles for the rest of my life.
A video posted by brittanyfurlan (@brittanyfurlan) on
Can you tell us a bit about how you create some of your Vine characters? Do you have any personal favorites?
Brittany Furlan: My vine characters came about because I had developed so many original characters just doing improv around town. And I thought, “gee, let me try creating little bits for each of these guys”. Like “The Beekeeper” told jokes, “Natalie Nature” was a vegan psycho, “Martha” was a pill-popping house wife and “Ghetto Dora” was…Ghetto Dora. It was so fun. Some of the best times of my life. There are no favorites, I loved them all; they are all a part of who I am (insane).
When did brands start approaching you? Which brands?
Brittany Furlan: Brands starting coming about when I reached about 150,000 followers. The first brand to ever contact me was benefit cosmetics, which was fantastic because I needed the makeup (they honestly could’ve paid me in lipstick but thank God they gave me some money). And then I worked with a Bevy of brands after that- Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, Budweiser, etc…
We know you don’t take every brand offer given to you, so how do you go about the deciding factor as to whether or not a particular brand is for you?
Brittany Furlan: I work with a brand if I think I can do something funny with it (which is pretty much any brand) but I won’t work with any sexual products because I’m fighting enough of a stigma being a semi-good looking woman in comedy. I already have 10,000 things working against me here, the last thing I need is to be pushing lube and dildos. (hey dad)
Do you ever feel pressure creating new content on a consistent basis or does it come naturally to you? Are there pressures when working with brands?
Brittany Furlan: I felt pressure to keep creating when I first started but not so much anymore. I left the Vine space mostly so I don’t have that competitive urge to keep coming up with new ideas on there. I now feel pressure to create content in the traditional acting space- writing my own shows, shooting my own shorts, etc. (whole different ball game and I’m just learning to throw).
I don’t feel pressure with brands really, unless they reject all of my ideas then I’m like… “Uhhhh” *pulls collar*I just want things to be funny, and not to come off overly branded, because that kills it for everyone, including the brand.
Do you ever feel creatively restricted by trying to give your audience what they want? Do you ever test out something fresh to see what the reaction will be?
Brittany Furlan: No no. The only thing that’s restrictive on me is my bra. And yes I try out fresh ideas but people usually shit on them because they’re abstract or strange so I do what I can.
What are some of the pitfalls content creators should be on the look out for when it comes to working with brands? Any tips?
Brittany Furlan: Try not to do too much branded work. Be selective on what brands you choose to work with because these brands will be directly correlated with your image. Hence why you don’t see me hawking dildos (though I could probably come up with some pretty funny ideas for them).
A video posted by brittanyfurlan (@brittanyfurlan) on
How significant do you feel the internet is for today’s up and coming artists such as actors, filmmakers, writers, comedians, musicians, photographers ect? Do you feel this change in the entertainment industry is here to stay?
Brittany Furlan: I mean the Internet is here and it isn’t going anywhere and that’s that. So be mad about it or learn to embrace it and make the best of it. The great thing about the Internet is that everyone gets a chance, everyone gets a voice, everyone is free to express themselves. Times are a changin, hold on tight kids.
Would you recommend other creatives to express themselves through the internet?
Brittany Furlan: Absolutely. I recommend for people to always express themselves. And why not on the most accessible platform we have. Thats like saying, “do you want to take this train or would you rather walk?”. Some people are old school and still prefer to walk because it’s good exercise and they enjoy the fresh air, but they can get where they’re going a lot faster if they simply step onto the train.
What future projects do you have coming up that you would like to share with us?
Brittany Furlan: I shot three films this past year which I’m really excited about, it’s nice to do something not shot on an iPhone.
What are some of your future goals that you may have for yourself as a creator?
Brittany Furlan: I just want to be a comedic actress. That’s it. And dramatic actress too because I cry a lot. That’s the goal. I’m kicking.
Do you have any advice for content creators that are working to build their own following?
Brittany Furlan: Just do things. Do things you believe in and put them out there. You have nothing to lose. If it’s great, it will attract attention. Actually, even sometimes it can be great and not attract attention but that’s not what it’s about. If you just keep creating and building, you will end up with a house, a very nice house. Don’t give up.