In October of 2019, Sacramento State freshman Nebaiot Lemma was on top of the world.
The film major went viral on TikTok thanks to a clip from his YouTube channel spoofing a tour of Sac State. The TikTok gained over 2 million views in a few days and was the talk of campus.
As the semester went on, he continued to make TikToks and YouTube videos featuring Sac State students and taking place on campus, gaining followers along the way and becoming more popular around Sac State.
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On March 12, Sac State announced that all classes will be online for the rest of the semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Lemma’s YouTube channel has seen no activity.
The State Hornet caught up with Lemma and discussed how COVID-19 is affecting him in a virtual interview.
Question: You got big on social media last semester and your content is very focused on campus, how have you been dealing with the shelter-at-home orders?
Answer: Oh man, it’s OK. I’m really extroverted so it was already in itself a struggle for me. I’m not the type of — I don’t even feel like I could call myself a YouTuber — but I’m not the type of YouTuber that can do those videos to where they just sit in front of the camera and they just talk. I can’t really do that and I don’t know what to talk about and I don’t think it would be interesting.
Q: What has been the biggest struggle so far?
A: I’m just struggling looking for a bunch of different types of content that I can make and upload that would make my audience interested, while at the same time staying in my home and not interacting with people much. That’s kind of been a struggle because most of the people that subscribe to my channel are subscribed because they like the videos where I go and mess with people. But I can’t do that in quarantine. It’s been a big writer’s block or creator’s block for the past couple of weeks.
Q: Have you still been making TikToks?
A: I have been making TikToks because for them, the ones that go big are with people and stuff, but the ones I make on a daily basis are just me saying stupid jokes or whatever.
@nebaiotConsequences await those who dare enter my room without your parents permission ##foryou ##nasa♬ original sound – nebaiot
Q: Do any of your subscribers ask where your videos are?
A: Yes, yes. It’s hard. It’s … pretend if you’re dating a guy and then you break up with him and your friends are like, “Oh hey, what happened to that guy?” And then you’re like, “Oof,” and it brings back memories. That’s kind of what it is like whenever they’re asking me to make more videos. I want to, but it’s hard and I don’t want to put out bad content for you guys.
Q: Have you been bothering your family members to try to do a video with you or anything? A: My sister, everyday. She is pretty annoyed by it actually… She doesn’t want to be in them.
RELATED: 16 questions with Sac State TikTok star Nebaiot Lemma
Q: Why is it easier to just film TikToks?
A: The expectation of it. When you’re watching a TikTok you don’t expect it to be a cinematic masterpiece or very well produced and stuff. When you’re watching YouTube videos you expect the quality to be better than when you’re watching TikToks. So with that in mind, I feel like I could make videos up to the standard of quality on TikTok by myself and doing my own stuff rather than I can for YouTube.
Q: Are you worried that this is going to take a toll on your YouTube career since you haven’t been doing anything there?
A: It gets me stressed the longer that I don’t upload… but what I realized through that whole journey (becoming TikTok famous) is that most of this is just random… So I don’t think my views and my subscriber count are reflective of my creativeness or quality I guess.
Q: Is there anything that you are working on right now to post possibly?
A: I was planning on making a music video, and I was going to make a fun song about quarantine but that didn’t work out well. I might get back into that. I was trying to think of other ideas that I could do by myself to make it just as entertaining as the other ones but that’s currently what I’m working on.