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YouTuber Hailey Sani on the Bad Rep of Influencers, Speaking Out on Social Media, & Her LA Faves

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

Growing up in the era of “beauty guru YouTube,” Hailey Sani and her 1 million+ subscribers have withstood the test of time. For over half a decade, Sani has been making vlogs, lifestyle videos, and everything in between. Currently in her third year at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Sani transitioned into the college YouTube world in 2019 and now continues to chronicle her study abroad journey in London. This August I sat down with Hailey to talk about all things influencing, social media, and even some bonus LA recommendations for you to use on your next trip. 

Hailey Sani poses on instagram.

Q: Most influencers say that they don’t have a “typical” schedule and that their days vary constantly. Would you say you have a routine and if so, can you give us a rundown? 

A: It’s not your classic 9-5 where you know exactly what’s going to happen. Sometimes I’d wake up and have an interview like this one scheduled for the day, but it does feel good to have some kind of consistency in my life when it comes to my job. I would definitely try to wake up at a certain time, get a workout in, and then emails. If I’m doing content for that day, I’d do that content — either pictures or film a video. Depending on how much I’ve done that day, if I feel super tired, then I’m done working which usually happens around 8-9 p.m. But sometimes I’ll go hard and edit a video until 12. 

There’s no one telling you what to do so you need to implement your own structure into your life so it doesn’t get messy. I would say that COVID has gotten in the way of any sign of normalcy in our lives. When it comes to school, though, I’m pretty consistent. I normally do two quarters and then take a quarter off and most of the day is dedicated to school which ends up with me working at night. 

Q: What inspired you to speak on more “taboo” issues on social media such as mental health and politics as a lifestyle influencer? 

A: I think it’s definitely been a cultural thing for me based on the way I was raised. I come from Turkey where these types of topics are not as widely spoken as they are in the US and we still talk about these topics being “taboo” here in the US. So you can probably imagine how it is there [Turkey]. In many settings, both family in Turkey and with friends, I wouldn’t be able to talk about certain things and that’s always been in the back of my head. There’s always been some type of built-up anger like ‘why aren’t we allowed to speak about these things?’ — especially as women because a lot of these topics are related to women and female health. 

Hailey Sani in one of her YouTube videos.

I’ve always been someone who has been very honest and “TMI.” It’s just become a part of my personality that I’ve become outspoken about these things. I like making other people uncomfortable when it comes to these topics — people’s reactions are genuine and it’s how I think we would feel if we didn’t have these societal norms and standards. Our generation is also always questioning ‘but why’ and ‘why are we doing that?’ which is definitely a loaded answer. 

Q: You are moving to London to study abroad this semester. you immigrated from Turkey and have moved quite a bit following that. Do you have any advice for people who are moving or making a crucial change at an early stage of their lives?

A: I’ve always been a mover. I counted and I think I’ve moved 16 times total in my life so being in the same city [Los Angeles] for a long period of time has me itching. For me, moving to London now feels natural because it’s what I would do growing up. So naturally, I’ve developed this survival skill that allows me to adapt really fast. My advice for people moving would be that your truest self comes out when you’re being challenged and when you’re put in an uncomfortable situation — I feel like that’s when you’re really living. When you’re in your comfort zone, that doesn’t create an environment for growth. You kind of even start going backward when you’re not challenging yourself in any way. 

A photo from Hailey Sani’s first week in London, uploaded to her Instagram.

So I’d say welcome those opportunities with open arms. I know it gets hard and I’ll struggle when I move to London even though I’ve moved so many times just because it’s a new setting and new people. But I’m just excited because I know I’ll be much more capable and grown after this is over which is what motivates me and keeps me from getting scared. Just a mindset shift, I guess. 

Q: You speak a lot about politics and social issues on your channel, which is not common for many lifestyle influencers. What prompted you to start speaking out on your platforms? 

A: Honestly, when I think about my videos (even back to when I first started at like 14 or 15), even if it wasn’t me sitting down and actively choosing to talk about politics on my channel, and it was just me sitting down and unintentionally talking about things like immigration, it felt like a political move. [Those conversations] hold certain values that go with or against certain stances. I think I started to focus more on it in the past two years because I’ve just been noticing so many more people with platforms that, unfortunately, don’t take advantage of the reach they have for the good of the general public; saying things like “vote” instead of “here’s who I’m voting for because of x, y, and z.” I’m not saying everyone has to be a political scientist and know what they’re talking about, but I feel like if you have 20 million followers and people who look up to you, you have some sort of responsibility. If I can talk about these issues and make a change in our communities and the people around us, then I’m going to do it.

Hailey Sani speaking up for George Floyd and racial justice.

I think I may feel more comfortable talking about these topics maybe because I spend time researching them so maybe I do more often than other people, but I feel like we have a really bad reputation as influencers. We are known as these people who make money by recommending lipstick. Yes, that’s great, but no — a lot of us have things that we are passionate about which is why we have chosen to be so vulnerable with so many people. I want to change the reputation that we get while, at the same time, [hopefully changing] other people’s lives with the things I’m speaking about. 

The “Girl Talk” videos I make on safe sex or abortions may not look like political content, but they are because people who didn’t grow up with these beliefs are being exposed to different ways of thinking. I’ve always had this desire to help people. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not like Gandhi where that is my sole passion, but it makes me happy and I want to keep taking my channel in that direction. 

Hailey Sani in one of her “Girl Talk” YouTube videos.

Q: Where do you currently live? Give us your best neighborhood recs. 

A: Downtown but I normally hang out in the West Hollywood and Beverly Hills area which is where my parents moved when we came from Turkey so I’m more familiar with that area. If you’re feeling a lunch-type vibe, you can definitely try the back of Mauro’s Cafe (at Fred Segal’s) for lunch, Izakaya, or Crossroads. For more of a brunch/cafe idea, I would definitely include The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker on Sunset. As for things to do, LA-ers love taking in views of the city so park your car on any street and walk up the hills. Be careful of cops checking your parking, but other than that it should be a good time. 

There you have it — straight from the “LA-er” herself. 

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Merry is a third-year political science & economics double major at Boston University. She is a former fashion merchandising major and hopes to work in editorial fashion, PR, or social media post-graduation while also focusing on the journalistic aspects of both her majors. She currently contributes to a number of publications while simultaneously working as an editor at Her Campus BU. Merry was also previously the managing editor of Her Campus at VCU and worked as an editorial intern for Her Campus Media. Contact her at mariamgnebiyu@gmail.com & @merry.nebiyu on Instagram.