Ashley Alexander on finding her voice as a content creator

Dress PASKAL, shoes LARROUDE, earrings and half crescent ring HIROTAKA, blue heart ring CELESTE STARRE.

Ashley Alexander, aka Ur Mom Ashley, reflects on her journey as a content creator — from starting her YouTube channel in college to filming travel vlogs with her family — and how her content has evolved over time. Ashley also discusses connecting with her community, success as a content creator, and the challenges of balancing public and private life.

Dress PASKAL, earrings HIROTAKA, ear cuffs CELESTE STARRE.

I thought we would start off with a fun little game of Would You Rather. Your first question is, would you rather be immortal or have the choice to be reincarnated as any animal of your choosing?

I would probably choose to be reincarnated as a red panda.

Is that your favorite animal?

It is.

Would you rather have a clone or a personal robot for a day?

I’m going to have to go [with a] clone because that would be crazy.

Would you rather visit a country you’ve always dreamed of visiting but only for a day, or live on your own private island but no one else would be allowed to visit?

I would probably visit a country I want to go to for a day, because if I’m alone, it’s not as fun.

Which countries would you visit?

I’d probably go to Korea because I’ve never been, or Thailand because Thai food is my favorite.

You started your YouTube channel, Ur Mom Ashley, while you were in college. What inspired you to start a YouTube channel during that period of your life? 

I actually always wanted to do YouTube. I grew up watching a lot of the beauty gurus, and [some time around] 2013, [I started watching a lot of people like] Bethany Mota. I had always had it in the back of my mind that it was something that I wanted to do. When I was in college, and I was taking bio, chemistry, physics, and all those hard classes, I [realized that] I would rather have a more creative career, so I decided to try YouTube on the side. [I wanted to] see if I could do [YouTube] as my job if I was able to grow [my channel] in college. If it didn’t work out, then I would just continue with my biology degree, and if it did, I could do YouTube. I took a little bit of a risk, but I always had my backup.

It’s always nice to have something to fall back on when it comes to stuff like that. What did you originally want to do with your biology degree, and what do you think you would be doing right now if you weren’t doing YouTube?

When I first started college, I was going to try to go to medical school and potentially do either ophthalmology or dermatology. [They] were [the] top two specialties that I was [really] interested in. I think if I didn’t do YouTube, I probably would be grinding it out in medical school right now if I got in.

If you’re going to be a doctor, that’s a good seven to eight years of college.

For sure. I would still be in school right now if I didn’t do YouTube.

I don’t think I like any profession enough to go to school for eight years, so if you did, kudos to you.

I did like school a lot, so I would be able to tough it out.

Hoodie PASKAL, earrings and ear cuff HIROTAKA.

The style of your videos has evolved a lot from when you first started your channel. Did you always have a vision of your videos in the style they are now, or did you have to experiment through trial and error? How did the current version of your videos come to be?

It definitely took a lot of trial and error. When I first started YouTube, I did a lot of hauls, which was really popular back in the day. I don’t know that they’re super popular anymore now as much as they were at the time. [My videos have] evolved more into vlogs and challenges here and there, which I actually like to do the [most]. I’m really happy that my channel is mostly [vlogs] and lifestyle content, because that’s my favorite content to make and to watch. It’s evolved a little bit, but at the same time, [I always] envisioned vlogging as being my main thing.

You were born in America, but your mother is also from Korea. What kind of exposure to Korean culture did you have growing up, and how did the two cultures blend together?
My mom moved to America when she was very young, so I feel like my mom has also grown up pretty Americanized in a sense. My upbringing was definitely very [Americanized, growing] up in the suburbs, but at the same time, my mom has always made a good effort to cook us Korean food and involve us in the culture. I remember watching a lot of K-pop [and] K-dramas as a young kid, which is where she introduced me to more Korean culture as well.
I mean, K-pop is all the rage these days, so your mom was showing you the trends before they happened.

She was ahead of her time. I remember listening to K-pop back in 2006, so a long time ago.

As a society, we’ve gotten better at showcasing different cultures and heritages, but of course there’s always room for improvement within that. What do you hope to see in terms of representation for Asian culture in the future?

In recent years, I’ve seen a lot of changes in media representation in Hollywood and on YouTube. [There are] a lot more creators, actors, [and] people like that in the media world, which has been really, really awesome. A lot of my demographic are Asian American girls, so it’s really cool to connect with them and hopefully be a role model. It’s a different responsibility. [I want to] show people that [they] can do YouTube too. That’s my goal.

Did you have any specific goals or objectives in mind when you first started your YouTube channel? Are those goals still the same today, or have they changed over time?

My goals are still pretty similar to this day. My main goal is to build a community of people [who] all have similar interests. Another goal of mine is to share my life and have a place to look back on my memories and the things that I’ve done. When I started YouTube, one of my biggest goals was to hit a million subscribers. I feel like a lot of YouTubers’ goal is to hit that milestone as well.

In addition to your YouTube channel, you started a podcast called Extra Dynamic in 2020. What made you want to branch out into creating a podcast?

I started the podcast over Covid when I had a little more time. I thought it was the best way to really connect with my audience and talk to them in a different way than I could in a YouTube video. [I could go] a little deeper, longer, get into the nitty-gritty of it, explain more of who I [was] and random things about my life. Extra Dynamic, as a term, [came] from having my siblings in my videos. They would either be in the video with me or behind the camera, and I would say that my siblings [were] there for extra dynamic. What it means to me is that there’s a little extra pizzazz, a little extra fun, or something extra. With the podcast, I wanted to go deeper with that and share the extra dynamic with everyone more.

The quarantine was a perfect time to work on projects like that, plus you get to go more into detail with a forty-minute podcast than you do in a ten-minute video. Do you have any other plans for the Extra Dynamic brand in the future?

I would love to potentially restart the podcast. Maybe next year. I don’t know if it will be under the same name or [a] different name. I’ve really [missed] having that super tight bond with my community that I feel like I had when I did the podcast, so maybe in the future, I’ll have another podcast. We’ll see.

Is there a message that you would like people to take away from watching your videos or listening to your podcast?

I mostly just want people to [have] a good laugh or [feel] like they have more of a sense of optimism. Something that I love so much about YouTube, [podcasts], or things like that is impacting the feeling that someone has when they go throughout their day, whether they watch my videos to relax or just to enjoy [them]. Making them feel better or happier is really the main goal.

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What is something important people should know about you that they may not already know, whether they’re a new viewer, an old viewer, or somewhere in between?

Something that people wouldn’t think about me is that internally, I feel like I’m a very shy person. I’ve labeled myself as a shy person, [even] growing up. I do YouTube, so most people [probably] think [that I’m] extroverted [since] I’m talking to the camera. I’m comfortable in front of the camera, and I think doing YouTube has definitely made me more extroverted — or maybe I am an extrovert now — but when I started out [on] YouTube, I was not an extrovert. Even if you feel shy, if you want to do YouTube, it’s still totally doable, and you don’t need to have a super big, loud personality to make it on there.

You vlog a lot of your daily life. How do you find a balance between the moments you share on camera with your viewers and those you keep private? 

That’s the question, even for me to this day. It’s still something that is pretty difficult to balance sometimes, but I feel like I’m learning more and more with trial and error how to balance it properly. Luckily, the people in my life that I film with are always super open to filming with me, and we always have a good time. I try to pick and choose the moments I want to share. I can’t have every vulnerable moment online necessarily, but I try to film things I think my viewers would enjoy watching or [find] interesting. At the same time, I try not to share too much. It’s always a hard balance to figure out.

You include your family and your boyfriend in a lot of your vlogs. How has doing YouTube with them impacted your relationship with them? Are there any experiences that doing YouTube with them has allowed you to have that you maybe wouldn’t have had otherwise?

YouTube has helped us really strengthen our bonds, especially with my siblings. Because of YouTube, [we’re always] filming together, doing challenges together, traveling together, and vlogging it. Just the act of doing that has brought us much closer. [If I didn’t have] a YouTube channel, I wouldn’t be like, “Oh, I’m [doing a let’s make] boba challenge.” Because of YouTube, I’ve had the ability to do that and have fun with my siblings in that way, and it’s definitely made us a lot closer. Even with my boyfriend, we wouldn’t have met if we both didn’t do YouTube. It’s just crazy how doing YouTube has cultivated a lot of relationships for me.

YouTube has changed a lot throughout the years, and the things that made a creator successful back then are very different from what they are now. What do you think makes someone a successful creator on YouTube today?

When I first started YouTube, TikTok wasn’t even a thing, so you could really focus on horizontal videos only. Now, if you want to be a successful creator, [you have] to prioritize both vertical and horizontal videos if you can, which is a lot harder in a sense because it’s more to balance. I think [doing] vertical videos [and] being on multiple platforms like Instagram, TikTok, [and] YouTube [simultaneously] is what helps to make someone a successful creator today.

How do you think that might evolve in the future?

From here on out, I think vertical videos are going to become more and more popular. For me, it definitely means I need to be better about posting vertical videos, which [is] hard for me as someone who’s so coded to do YouTube and long-form horizontal videos. With TikTok, though, there’s not as high of a barrier to entry for new creators, which is really cool. It makes it more accessible for more people.

With 2023 coming to a close, what are you looking forward to in the remainder of the year or early next year, either personally or professionally?

I recently moved [in] with my sister, so we’re living together now. I’m really excited to hang out with her more for the rest of the year. We have a whole year lease, so who knows? I’m really excited to film more with her, and it’s her first time living in New York [City], so getting to show her around will be really cool. Other than that, I’m excited to continue traveling. I have [another] trip to Japan coming up very soon, so [I’m] doing some more research. I’m trying to potentially work on a matcha brand, so we’re getting the research in, and I’m excited to work on that, too.

Full look STOLEN STORES, shoes RICAGNO, pearl bracelet ACCHITTO, earrings SAULE.

Photography IRENE CHEN






Special thanks to HELIOTYPE CREATIVE

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