Molly Burke is just like every other creator online. She creates educational videos about makeup, q&a’s, visual impairment and more. To add to that, she’s also a motivational speaker and an anti-bullying and mental health activist. The difference between her and most other content creators online is that Molly is visually impaired. We asked Molly all about how and why she creates content online, balancing all her hustles, and what she will be premiering at Buffer Festival this year.
Describe an average day in your life. What do you aim to achieve on a daily basis?
My life doesn’t have “average” days, which is what I love so much about it. I love that every day is something different, that I get to travel, be creative, do what I love and help people.
Before YouTube, how were you sharing your stories?
I’ve been public speaking since I was 5 years old and it became my full time career when I was 18. As soon as I graduated high school I began traveling the world sharing my story and speaking to audiences as large as 20,000. It was an amazing feeling getting to help people and make a difference while also doing something I loved, but I felt like I needed more.
When I lost my vision at 14 I also lost my friends and YouTube was what I turned too. I would watch content online when I didn’t have anyone to hangout with in person and the people I’d watch felt like they’d become my friends. They were teaching me, entertaining me, helping me feel empowered and discover myself. I decided that I wanted to do that for people too. Digital content can be accessed by anyone, my speeches can only be heard by those in my audience. I can only speak in so many countries or at so many events each year, digital content is there for anyone. I love that.
I will always be a public speaker, but I also hope to always be a YouTuber. Both paths allow me to take my negative experiences dealing with vision loss, bullying and mental illness and turn it into something positive for others and that’s a very rewarding feeling.
As someone who is blind, how do you go about creating content for your YouTube channel?
I know there are ways I could find to film and edit by myself, but the reality is I want to create the best and most high quality content I can and I know that that is not something I can do on my own. That isn’t something I feel bad about because I know that there are SIGHTED people who need help with these things too.
I have a studio in my basement that was set up by a professional team and they taught my mom how to setup and use all of the equipment. She helps me to film my videos (and does a LOT more, I’m so lucky to have her!) and then I pay an editor to edit my content, including thumbnails. I work with a graphic artist on my channel banner and any other channel art like my intro cards. It’s a team effort but it’s worth it! I couldn’t do it without every one of them!
What do you think are the biggest conventionalized images about those who are visually impaired?
Unfortunately the majority of the hate I receive online is regarding my vision. Mainly people accuse me of “faking” blind. To me, this is a truly ridiculous idea but I know exactly where it comes from. Traditional media has been portraying disability, and blindness specifically, inaccurately for years. We wear dark sunglasses or have glassy/foggy eyes, we feel people’s faces, etc. These things, at large, aren’t true and that’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about creating content online.
I want to be the part of the media industry that accurately shows disability. I want to show how capable, confident, intelligent and talented we really are as a community and help to break down those stereotypes and misconceptions that can be so harmful. Every time I read one of those comments accusing me of faking blindness because I “don’t look blind,” or “act sighted” it reminds me of why I do what I do and fuels me to keep creating and to keep educating.
How do you balance your several different roles? How do you think they work together?
I’m a very busy human and that is exactly how I like to be. Sometimes I definitely get overwhelmed or exhausted and feel like I need a break but then as soon as I take one I turn to my mom and say, “I’m bored.” So we’ve just learned to keep on going! I love what I do, every aspect of it, and I think that’s the key. Luckily, every aspect of what I do works well together and feeds one another, so that helps too.
Can you give us a teaser on what you will be premiering at Buffer Festival this year?
My video is all about dogs! So you know it’s going to be cute and totally worth watching! You’ll also, hopefully, learn a lot about guide dogs and why they are so much better than a driver’s license.
*Featured Image Photo Credit: Molly Burke Official*
Janine Maral is culture writer and content strategist. She enjoys podcasts, Notion, and internet communities.