At 23 years old, this YouTube personality has accumulated a channel of over five million subscribers, videos with more than ten million views, four-and-a-half million Instagram followers, and has been doing this since he was seventeen. His success almost seems calculated, but a humbled Franta would like to believe finding popularity isn’t a secret code as much as it is being advantageous towards an untapped resource.
“I feel like it was one of those ‘right place, right time’ situations,” Franta says, “YouTube and ‘vlogging’ were so new and relatively untouched, there was a lot of room to grow and a lot of content to produce. I’m assuming it’s some sort of relatability factor and I hope, at the core of it, people do like what I make and what I produce. But I think it comes down to, yeah, that they like what I say and the messages that I’m putting out.”
In this day and age, Franta would be considered the savvy, social media veteran. His entire adult life, thus far, has been documented and archived for all to see. So it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Franta ever felt exposed. But in this ever-changing medium, with its ever-growing invasion of privacy, the art of keeping secrets whilst playing topics of family and relationships close to the vest is necessary for survival.
“The line between personal and private has really become very fine and it’s one of those things where, individually, you have to decide where you want to cross it. Especially as someone whose business and creative outlet is completely dependent upon personal and private, you have to decide how open you want to be,” Franta admits. But the line never looked finer than in 2014 when Franta decided to create his “Coming Out” video:
“It was something I’d never done before. I’ve always told personal details but nothing that secretive. Initially, I made it because ‘Coming Out’ videos were such an important part of my process of coming out. Being someone from the Midwest where you didn’t see gay couples holding hands; it was very much a heterosexual world. So I wanted to make my video, secondly, to help people in similar situations as me. The day I made it, I felt very naked, very vulnerable and although it was exactly what I wanted, it was so strange.”
With the avenues now available to him, Franta would be a fool not to branch out (He isn’t. Astonishingly good at living, remember?).He’s launched a lifestyle brand called Common Culture—an infusion of clothing, music, and coffee. With his channel and brand flourishing, Franta’s still growing and learning—but if numbers are any indication, the guy’s got good balance.
Photographer: Max Montgomery at maxmontgomeryphoto.com.
Stylist: Lwany for jedroot.com.
Groomer: Michelle Harvey for opusbeauty.com using Chanel Les Beiges