Wengie is Wendy Huang’s YouTube channel, where she uploads makeup and beauty tutorials to more than 1 million subscribers. She chose ‘Wengie’ because it is similar to her Chinese name, Wen Jie. Wendy was born in Guangzhou, China. She came to Australia when she was four years old.
As a child, what did you dream of doing (or becoming)?
“I really wanted to be a pilot of a Japanese robot team and save the world. I loved watching Japanese mecha shows like Voltron.”
You’ve spoken on your YouTube channel about you and your parents migrating from China to Australia. Can you share with us about that experience?
“Growing up, I always knew I was different because my parents didn't have the same customs as my friends at school. It was a learning experience for my parents too. They didn’t know what went on. It was a process of me educating them on customs and what to bring to school. They ended up giving me lunch money, so that I didn't get weird looks from other kids. It also helped me to learn how to manage money better because spending less on one day meant candy after school on another!
When my parents emigrated [before me], they had a huge loan from their family and little knowledge of English. My mum started off as a cleaner, even though she was a university graduate in China. My dad managed to work his way through a PhD in Chemistry, whilst living on $7 a week.
When I came to the country at four, they had a little bit but not a whole lot. I grew up in a culture that was very frugal, so I wasn’t able to buy much. [But] I was also taught the value of education and working hard. I think this shaped a lot of my work ethic and attitude. Knowing that you can come from nothing gave me both hope and insight into what it’s like to live with nothing. Looking back, this is probably the best lesson I learnt from my parents. As a kid, this wasn’t easy to understand because I just wanted toys and things that my friends had.”
How did you go about starting your career as a YouTuber?
“I quietly started blogging after work as a hobby. Soon I started blogging 3 times a week, and began partnering with overseas companies with their campaigns. It started to look like something I could definitely take on as a career. I started blogging makeup tutorials. I remember staying up and pulling all nighters to meet clients’ deadlines and going straight to work the next day.
I dreamed of becoming someone that could live creatively through the internet. YouTubers seemed to be pioneers, so I started my own channel. I turned my living room into a studio. I lived and breathed video after work. When my YouTube channel started to grow, I decided that having no sleep and working during all my waking hours was not a solution. So I decided to take the plunge and quit my job. It was the best decision I made. Initially, the change of routine was hard. I even spiralled into a short bout of depression — due to the huge change of not having a stable income and not having anyone tell me what to do with my time (which I mainly just wasted by stressing out). But once I got into a rhythm, my channel took off because it was my sole focus. It makes a huge difference when you can fully direct your energy into your creative endeavours.”
Wengie started blogging as a hobby and now uploads new videos on her YouTube channel twice a week. YouTube: Wengie
You have over a million subscribers on your style and beauty channel. What has been positive about becoming a full-time YouTuber?
"The most positive things that I've gained from being on YouTube aren’t the things you initially think about — like fame, flexibility, creativity and all that. In fact, I was never really interested in fame. I was more interested in the freedom and flexibility (I’m not really a morning person, which got in the way of most office jobs).
I don't think there are many jobs that throw you out of your comfort zone — mentally and emotionally — in the same way that running a YouTube channel does.
You’re challenged creatively because every week is a brand new week of proving yourself (the online audience is quite fickle and so are Google algorithms). I've seen channels with a million subscribers disappear as quickly as they started, so none of your audience can be taken for granted.
In addition, it throws you into so many emotional ups and downs — from incredible praise, to horrible hate, and bullying. It becomes difficult to find your centre and your sense of self, when one minute you're a goddess and the next you're the slime of the earth — according to the internet.
You start getting to know yourself pretty well and you have make sure that you don't become influenced too much by what other people say, which is a lifelong journey for most women including myself. I'm getting better at it!
No one can ever tell you what the next best step is, so I'm constantly thinking about how to make my channel better! I find this whole process incredibly rewarding. At the end of the day, I'm just really grateful that I’ve been given this opportunity to be able in some way speak to, and touch, so many people's lives.”
Imagine that you had the chance to host a barbeque — anywhere in Australia. If you could invite three Australian guests (dead or alive) — who would they be? What would be on the menu? Where would you like it to be held?
“Miranda Kerr. I remember seeing Miranda Kerr win the Dolly [Magazine] model search competition when she was 14 and I remember being captivated by her look. She was the first person to influence me, so much so that I decided to try and mimic her straight eyebrows. It was hilarious because it was a disaster. I still remember that moment. Since then she's taken her career to amazing heights, so I would love to chat to her and find out what she went through to get to where she is.
Nicole Kidman. Nicole Kidman and I actually went to the same high school, so I kinda feel like we have a shared experience. I've watched a recent interview with Vogue and can see she's living a quieter life now. One of my dreams is to be more settled and content, so I’d love to gather her experience as well!
Kylie Minogue. Kylie Minogue is here because I love my dad and she is one person he has loved — since I remember. He even went to her concert and my dad DOES NOT usually go to concerts (he was the 40 year old, super excited Asian man in the crowd). I would love to sneak him into the barbeque, so that he’d meet her. It would probably be one of his dreams [made] complete.
We would eat Asian-style vegetables and pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup). They’re my favourite foods and I’ve recently started realising the benefits of eating a plant-based, whole food diet. It’s a new lifestyle choice that I'm adapting to. I'm sure everyone present will appreciate it. I also find Asian vegetable dishes super tasty!
Being a Sydney-sider, I would love to have it in Kirribilli. It’s near the harbour and it's such a spectacular view. Even though I live here, it's breathtaking every time I see it!”
What would be your advice to your 15 year old self?
“Don't take yourself too seriously or try to make everything go to plan. People are not perfect so don't expect them to be and mistakes are a blessing in disguise so keep being you. I love you :)!!”