Streamy Awards: YouTube Stars Talk Presidential Election, Rocking the Vote on Red Carpet

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Tyler Oakley

“It’s an honor to be part of a moment in history that will be talked about forever,” says Tyler Oakley of voting for Hillary Clinton.

As the vice presidential debate aired across more than 10 television networks Tuesday night, the streaming video community had its attention trained squarely on the 6th Annual Streamy Awards. But the upcoming presidential election was still top of mind for the YouTube and Vine stars who swarmed the Streamys red carpet at the Beverly Hilton hotel.

Everyone from Tyler Oakley to Jenn McAllister walked the carpet ahead of the Streamy Awards, which was presided over by host Andrew Bachelor, and many of them urged their millennial and Gen Z fans to vote on Election Day.

“It’s literally a life-changing thing you can do just to share your opinion,” says Oakley, the vlogger who has become a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. “Go out and vote. Campaign for who you support.”

Grace Helbig, the comedian and vlogger who stars in Fullscreen’s Electra Woman & Dyna Girl, tells The Hollywood Reporter that she wants her fans to know how easy it is to cast a vote. “Even if you think your vote doesn’t count, it does in some way, shape or form, so just get out there and vote,” she says. “It’s so much easier to do than people think. We’re so used to convenience with YouTube and the way we watch everything. It’s so readily available, but so is voting.”

Other online influencers are taking a more direct approach to rocking the vote. “I am personally going to go to Florida and knock on doors and say to fans or non-fans, ‘look you need to come and vote’ and hopefully they’ll vote for Hillary Clinton, but I just want to encourage them to vote,” says GloZell Green, who later in the evening won a Streamy in the lifestyle category.   

Bachelor brought politics into the show, too. "We're not too thrilled with the option we have," he said on stage before announcing his own candidacy for president. "The American people need someone they can trust, they need someone they can count on, they need someone who looks good and that can entertain them," he said, promising the creators in the room that he would give them 100,000 YouTube subscribers for free. A campaign posted read: "Champagne with the Campaign. Bach for Pres!" But it was later revealed that Bachelor was born in Canada. 

Like their young fans, many of the vloggers and Viners present at Tuesday evening’s show — which recognized achievements in online video by handing out awards to Snapchatter Shonduras, prankster Yousef Erakat and filmmaker Casey Neistat — will be voting in their first presidential election on Nov. 8. But that hasn’t stopped Jenn McAllister, the 20-year-old star of YouTube Red series Foursome who won a Streamy for her role after walking the carpet, from already becoming politically active. She tells THR that she already works with Vote Your Future and the Hillary Clinton campaign to encourage her peers to vote. “It’s my first election as well and I’m super excited because we’re potentially putting in our first female president. It’s pretty iconic for this election to be our first,” she told THR.

Others are less enthusiastic about the current state of American politics. Actress Andrea Russett, for example, describes the election as “a nightmare,” adding, “It’s my first time voting and I think it’s kind of a bummer. It’s the lesser of two evils, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote. You still got to do it.”

Even for those who have voted before acknowledge that this year’s race has special meaning. “It’s an honor to be part of a moment in history that will be talked about forever,” says Oakley. “I think down the line when you’re talking to your kids about it and say your first vote was for Hillary Clinton — the first female president in a landslide against Trump. What a beautiful sentence.”