On March 14, 2011 the song “Friday” was uploaded to YouTube and quickly became a worldwide viral sensation — for the wrong reason. The star and singer of the video, then 13-year-old Rebecca Black, would be infamously associated with what critics called “the world’s worst song” for years to come.
As of May 2019, the video is still listed in the top 10 most disliked videos on YouTube with 3.5 million downvotes.
Almost a decade later, we met with Black for this episode of In The Know: Profiles to see what she’s been working on since and how she has prepared herself to re-enter the spotlight as a singer once again — to hopefully more positive reviews.
“That song changed my life in virtually every way. I was in no way ready to start, like, what was going to be my career,” Black told In The Know. “I was being a 13-year-old.”
The song racked up millions of views and reportedly earned Black a cut of $200,000 (her parents paid Ark Music Factory, the producers, $2,000 for both the song recording and the music video). But it wasn’t worth the intense backlash and bullying Black faced both online and in school.
“The biggest thing on my mind was how people were perceiving me,” Black said. “The next, I guess, thing in my life became, how do I have some sense of normalcy?”
Most might think about shrinking away from the public eye to recover from the embarrassment, but Black went a different route. She wanted to get in front of all the criticisms and assumptions made about her and determine her own reputation.
“When I was 16, I started my YouTube channel as something that was, like, fully me — and I’m going to have fun with it.”
“For a long time I didn’t really have a place where I felt I could be, just, safe,” Black said. “I definitely still don’t know who I am, and I definitely don’t have everything figured out — but, I think I’ve just been able to make things that I really believe in, and that I really resonate with, and that are just me.”
A lot has changed since the world first met her in 2011. Black now lives on her own in Los Angeles and is working on projects she considers to be more real and authentic than what she’s known for.
“You don’t have to aspire to be like, someone — you shouldn’t,” said Black. “So many people will tell you, ‘Just be you!’ But that is hard! Be proud of who you are, be proud of where you come from and what you believe and the person you are, and then it becomes easier to be you.”
If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also enjoy reading about how YouTube star Amanda Steele started her career as a shy, introverted middle schooler.
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