Meet Sunshine aka Fances Jones aka Paige McKenzie (don’t worry, we’ll explain this slew of names later). 19-year old Sunshine is the star of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, a paranormal YouTube series with over 48,000 subscribers and 22 million video views to date. Last month, Sunshine was YouTube’s featured “On The Rise” partner and this month she’s being featured in Seventeen Magazine as part of an annual Pretty Amazing contest. With all of this awesome stuff going on, we’re excited to have had the opportunity to interview Sunshine to find out more about her experience with YouTube.
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl premiered in December of 2010 – a collaboration between Sunshine and her mom, Mercedes Rose. She tells me, “My mom and I had been wanting to work on a project together for awhile.” Nick Hagen, a friend and also director of the show, collaborated with the mother-daughter team to bring the production to life. The series is shot at Hagen’s house, and features Sunshine and Rose as mother and daughter, and chronicles the “paranormal activity” in the house.
When I asked Sunshine to clarify what’s real and what’s not about the series, she told me, “We call our style ‘fictional unscripted reality’ …because it is very much a reality show. I am so being me! And my mom and I have very much that relationship you see on the show. We all come up with the storyline, Nick directs and does most of the editing and I do the social media. Mom does most of the marketing.” How much of the “paranormal activity” is real? Well… you’ll just have to watch and judge for yourself. 😛
Surprisingly, Sunshine tells me, “I hadn’t even WATCHED YouTube before we started the channel! In fact, none of us really had. We just knew it was a growing medium for storytelling, and it would fit the ‘documentary’ style we were shooting the show in.”
Now, two and half years later, Sunshine has gone from being a YouTube novice to aYouTube expert. I asked her what advice she’d offer those looking to become successful on YouTube. She told me, “The key to YouTube is creating innovative, unique content, consistently. So many people just turn on a camera, rant about something and throw it up on YouTube and think it will go viral. Storyline is still a new medium on YouTube so there is a learning curve for all of us – the creators, the viewers, even Youtube! Have fun, make great videos regularly, use good tags, titles and thumbnails, and ignore the naysayers and trolls!”
So what’s up with all the names? Depending upon where you look, you may see Sunshine’s name listed as Sunshine, Frances Jones or Paige McKenzie. I asked Sunshine, what’s up with that? “I always went by Sunshine,” she told me, “and kept my real name out of it. If you saw some of the email I get you would understand why! After a few months, as the channel got more popular, fans began to really search for my name. So in desperation, I released a video saying my real name was Frances Jones. And it worked. Fans calmed down and stopped trolling the internet looking to discover my name. But with the announcement of the Seventeen Magazine Pretty Amazing finalist, the name Paige McKenzie is finally out. Most people still call me Sunshine!”