What It’s Really Like to Be … a Viral Beauty Content Creator on TikTok

Stephanie Valentine aka Glamzilla

Stephanie Valentine aka Glamzilla

Stephanie Valentine

Name: Stephanie Valentine a.k.a. Glamzilla
Location: Toronto, Canada
Profession: Beauty Content Creator

PEOPLE: Where did the name Glamzilla come from?
When I was 15, I would have to get ready for school but we only had one mirror and it was in the washroom. I have five siblings, so while they were getting ready I would go in between each of them and try and finish my makeup. I would be running late and my mom would say, “Stephanie, stop being such a glamzilla!” The name stuck and I’ve been using it ever since.

What were you doing before you decided to become a creator full time?
I actually went to police school. I’m Asian so my mom was like, “You’re either going to be a doctor, nurse, lawyer or policeman.” I chose police school and I graduated with honors.

In school, the girls would say, “Are you aware this isn’t fashion class?” I was mortified. I should’ve been in fashion class! Police school took two years to finish and once I started working in the field as a court clerk, I wasn’t happy. The happiest part of my day was matching my lipstick to my patterned pants, which was the only fashionable item I was allowed to wear. I would put on MAC lipstick and share it online as my lipstick of the day. I’ve been basically doing that ever since. Even though police school wasn’t for me, it was still the most amazing learning experience of my life. It made me appreciate humans, and understand community.

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What made you decide to quit and how did you decide to create content after that?
I was working and feeling unhappy, but still posting my looks on Instagram. One day, I was at work and my boss spilled coffee on the floor — then told me to clean it up. That moment was the last straw. I called my boyfriend crying and told him I was going to quit. He asked me what I was going to do and I told him I was going to be “an Instagrammer,” and I’ve never looked back. It’s been officially seven years.

When I quit my job, my boss laughed at me. She said, “So you’re quitting your job to post online and become a makeup artist?” My family also didn’t get it at the time. As much as I would love to tell you that I felt supported, I didn’t. I had everything stacked against me. I was kicked out of my house at 16. I had to live with my boyfriend’s family because my family disowned me. It was a hard time.

My boyfriend Byron told me not to worry. He said that we would focus on me and my dream while he worked his $20-an-hour job. Then, when I made it, it would be his turn to follow his dreams. I am so happy to say that Byron finally quit his job this year, and it’s all about him now that my dream has come true.

Can you walk me through your first year as a content creator?
When I first got started, Instagram was really popular. It was the Insta-filter and cut-crease era. I wasn’t doing full coverage makeup at the time, so I didn’t feel like I fit in but I always stuck to what I liked and believed in. The first year was the hardest. I bought makeup instead of paying my rent or groceries because I felt like it fed me more. I knew it was going to do more for me than anything else, so I stuck to it. There was never a Plan B, there was only Glamzilla. I was determined to make it work.

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What was your game plan?
I decided that I was going to be everything I didn’t see in the beauty community at the time. Most people were posting anything just to make a quick buck. If I was going to post a video, I was going to be honest with the intention of adding value to the community. I wanted to be that person who I really needed at that time.

When did you first start seeing it financially pay off for you?
I did it for free for about five years. For the last 10 years, I’ve posted every single day. It was never about the money for me. It was about me freaking out about how much I loved a new lipstick because I found peace in it. It’s my true passion. I still freak out over lipstick to this day.

What did you do to have spending money while you were creating content for those first five years?
My boyfriend Byron worked 12 hours a day, six days a week. That’s how we paid for our rent, food and makeup palettes.

Stephanie Valentine, Glamzilla

Stephanie Valentine, Glamzilla

Glamzilla/Instagram

We all need a Byron in our life.
I know. I’m happy he finally gets to refresh and find his passion now. He’s my other half. I wouldn’t be anything if our paths never crossed at the right time.

What made you make the jump to TikTok?
My friend from Maybelline said my content was amazing, but it was meant for TikTok. I tried it and my first video went viral on Dec. 23, 2020. I was doing one-minute makeup reviews for 10 years, so I felt like the platform was made for me. The pandemic made TikTok even more popular, so it was great timing.

Once your first video went viral, did you feel pressure to keep pumping out viral videos?
I post organically. The crazy part is that I posted my first one at 1 o’clock in the morning because that’s when I was creating content. I don’t try to be strategic. I really just post when I feel like it and I only post things that I truly love. My videos were getting tons of views because there was nobody doing a one-minute review. It was all about makeup transitions at the time, so I was able to come in with something different.

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As one of the top beauty creators on the app right now, can you walk me through an average day?
I wake up when my body wants me to wake up, or when the mailman buzzes my door. We’ve become best friends and he gets a nice Christmas gift every year because he has to deliver all of my PR packages. Once I sort what I’m going to try and what I’m going to add to my donation pile, I get right into it. I sometimes film up to 30 videos a day, but only the best of the best make it to TikTok that week. I would say half of my reviews are from PR and the other half are products I buy. I’m always actively looking for what’s new and interesting. I also write back to every single DM I get. If someone takes the time to write to you, it means a lot.

My donation pile will eventually go toward the Glamzilla Holiday Beauty Drive I host every year. I create bags of the best beauty products I have and then my followers come to meet me to buy a bag from me. Then, I donate that money to the Red Door Family Shelter in Toronto.

When I was 16, the Red Door Family Shelter helped me. I was staying at that shelter with my family, and I’ll never forget it because I remember feeling so sad. There was a woman there who told me not to worry because one day I would do great things. She was such a beautiful woman and her words stayed with me. Now that I’m in this position in life, I make giving back a priority. Many influencers choose to donate their makeup, which is great, but when it comes to larger causes, what people really need is food, clothing and shelter. I wanted to convert all that makeup into cash so people can buy baby formula and things they really need.

Stephanie Valentine, Glamzilla

Stephanie Valentine, Glamzilla

Glamzilla/Instagram

You’ve opened up about being a curvy girl in the beauty space and how it can feel isolating. Can you talk about what you’ve learned from being so open and vulnerable about it?
It took me forever. It’s been a tough journey, but a beautiful one at that. When I started, there was no one that looked like me. There were also no plus-size women on the brand trips I would be on, and I felt so much pressure to be “bikini-body ready” and contour like crazy. On a recent trip, I knew I would be surrounded by people in bathing suits and beautiful clothes and I realized I had two choices: stay in my room and be sad or take up this space I never had before while I was trying to become a beauty content creator.

Now, I feel empowered because I decided to take up space as an Asian, curvy woman. This is the new generation of beauty, and I’m a part of it now. This is me, and I hope I inspire others to do the same.

With so many celebrities coming out with brands these days, which brand do you think is totally worth the hype right now?
There are two: Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty. Both are successful because they align with the celebrity behind it. There’s a story to each brand, and they’re also really inclusive. They’re definitely leading the new generation of beauty.

Have you had any celebrity encounters that have left you totally starstruck?
Rihanna. Rihanna knew who I was when she saw me. She said she watched my videos and loves them. That was amazing!

What’s the best advice you can give to someone who feels intimidated to become a beauty content creator?
Follow your passion and lead with kindness. Be honest, vulnerable and consistent. Most importantly, take up the space you deserve and be yourself. Something I always say is stay fierce and be unapologetically you. I’ve said that since the first day I started, and it means a lot more to me now.