Emem Uko, ‘20, has become a YouTube star.
In 2016, Uko started her lifestyle, fashion and beauty based YouTube channel. She has since racked up over 8,000 subscribers.
Uko, a Nigeria native, has been posting on her YouTube channel for several years, but her channel took off in October 2019 when a video about Americans trying Nigerian snacks became popular.
“It probably went from around 2,000 subscribers to 7,000,” Uko said. “It was insane.”
Uko began her channel after taking a gap year in between high school graduation and college.
“That year I was just bored and didn’t have anything to do,” she said. “I was trying to get involved with different things and keep myself busy.”
Uko said before her gap year, she hadn’t been involved with YouTube. But once she started watching some videos, she realized making her own channel was something she might be interested in.
Uko’s sister, Ekom Uko, ‘14, said she was surprised when she learned about Emem’s YouTube channel.
“I always saw my sister as more of a quiet, shy, introverted individual,” Ekom Uko said. “Then I found out she had a YouTube channel, and I watched it and laughed because it was very funny.”
Ekom Uko said Emem’s ability to grow her channel while keeping up with her academic life at Lehigh was an impressive feat.
Throughout college, Ekom Uko said Emem continued to grow her channel without letting other pressures zap her creativity.
“She really loves to engage with people, and when she is interested in something, she puts her everything into it and she’s very, very diligent about it and wants to see it succeed,” she said.
Emem Uko said many people don’t realize how much work goes into creating content, especially on YouTube.
With content creation being a largely independent venture, she said all aspects of the channel fall on her.
“You’re the creator, you’re the editor, you’re the assistant, you’re the photographer,” Emem Uko said. “You’re all these things in one person, so you’re literally building a business as one person.”
Tsion Taye, ‘20, one of Emem Uko’s close friends from Lehigh, said during junior and senior year, Emem created a schedule to make sure she stayed on top of her channel even while she was becoming exceedingly busy with classes.
At first, Emem Uko was focused on growing her subscription numbers, she said. And while she still has an ultimate goal of reaching 100,000 subscribers, she said she tries not to become too focused on growth.
“Throughout my whole YouTube career, what I just put in the back of my mind is I never want to do it because of any other reason than enjoying it,” Emem Uko said. “Because doing YouTube can be a very mentally draining thing.”
Taye said the way Emem Uko’s personality, passion and joy shines through in her videos makes her channel appealing to her viewers.
“Her personality is super fun and bubbly, and I feel like a lot of people can relate to most of the content that she posts,” Taye said.
Taye said one of the things she likes best about her friend’s channel is the way she shares everything she finds and likes.
Taye said she cares about her followers and wants to share her personal interests so others can benefit.
Emem Uko said overall, she’s proud of the work she’s put into her channel and has accomplished a lot from it
“I’ve been doing it for a while now and honestly sometimes I get super discouraged, but it’s really great when people tell me they actually watch it and enjoy it,” Emem Uko said. “I’m just super grateful about it because it’s something I’ve been working toward for a long time.”