‘I’m just a kid with a few blending brushes’: How teenage make-up vlogger James Charles – whose 8,000 screaming fans brought Birmingham city centre to a standstill – built a £6million fortune with his 13million YouTube followers
- James Charles rose to internet fame when his senior prom pictures went viral
- He started his own YouTube channel and became first male face of CoverGirl
- Teenager, from New York, has since worked with Katy Perry and Kylie Jenner
- 19-year-old is legally blind but uses coloured contact lenses as part of his look
Five years ago, James Charles was a high school student dreaming of becoming a global sensation – but he never thought he’d actually get there.
He humbly describes himself as just a ’19-year-old kid with some blending brushes’.
But the teenager from Bethlehem, New York State, USA, is now worth £6million and has millions of people following his beauty channel all over the world.
This weekend the vlogger made headlines in the UK when his 30-second appearance to open a cosmetic franchise ‘broke Birmingham’ with 8,000 fans turning up to see him at the city’s Bullring centre.
It all started in 2015 when Charles, then known to his classmates as James Charles Dickinson, began uploading make-up tutorials to YouTube from a studio his contractor father built for him in the family’s basement.
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James Charles, a self-taught teenager from Bethlehem, New York State, USA, is now worth £6million and has millions of people following his beauty channel all over the world
Charles, second from left, with his mother, father and younger brother Ian Jeffrey – who is now also a YouTube star
On Saturday, the vlogger made headlines in the UK when his 30-second appearance to open a cosmetic franchise ‘broke Birmingham’ with 8,000 fans turning up to see him at the city’s Bullring centre (pictured)
His devoted fanbase grew steadily until a year later in October 2016 when he made history as the first ever male face of US cosmetics brand CoverGirl.
Company bosses had spotted one of his viral posts the month before and decided to sign him up.
Charles had re-taken his senior year prom pictures to capture the full extent of his personality – and his beauty skills.
He wrote on Twitter: ‘I brought my ring light with me so my highlight would be poppin. I love being extra.’
After that his following exploded and he became friends with Kim Kardashian and her sister Kylie Jennner – now boasting 13.6million followers on Instagram, 13.7million on YouTube and nearly three million on Twitter.
Before the age of 20, he bagged himself a house in Los Angeles, moving from his family home in New York for a new life in California late last year.
His creative flair began as a young child, when he was obsessed with drawing and painting.
After turning his hand to hair styling he claims to have felt ‘creatively constricted’ by several of his clients asking for similar cuts.
Then one evening he was forced to do a female friend’s make-up for a party she was late to. It was only at that point that he started doing his own make-up and decided to consider it as a career.
Charles shot to fame after posting a second take of his senior prom photos on social media – so he could show off his make-up skills and opt for more flattering lighting
Charles is pictured with his brother Ian, left, father, second left, and mother Christie, second right
A throwback image shows James Charles with his brother Ian Jeffrey as youngsters
His parents (pictured promoting his Morphe make-up line) have also featured in his posts, where he praises them for being so supportive of his career choice
He has a mini-series that features his brother Ian Jeffrey (left) called Brother & Sister where the pair talk about various lifestyle topics
Incredibly, the teen, who grew up with younger brother Ian Jeffrey, 17, is legally blind and unable to see anything without powerful contact lenses.
But he hasn’t let that stop him and uses it to his advantage by wearing colourful contact lenses to complete his extravagant looks.
The young YouTube sensation is mostly popular with girls, who he refers to as ‘sisters’ or the ‘sisterhood’, but also counts several make-up obsessed men among his fans.
He came out as gay at the age of 12 and regularly posts online about his personal life, but does not appear to be dating anyone.
He told his followers: ‘When I was younger, I think in around sixth grade, I was 12 years old at the time, I was hormonal.
‘I had just gone through puberty, and just like every other boy I was going through that stage of life.
‘Clearly at this point, in my own head, I had figured out that I was not exactly interested in the sisters, and I was definitely down for the brothers.’
He explained how he joined internet chatrooms to talk to other bloggers, but found it was being used for sexual conversations.
His rise to fame has seen him partner up with Kylie Jenner (left) who he shot a Halloween make-up tutorial with recently
Charles has also been pictured with Kim Kardashian, which has helped to boost his social media following further
The teenage beauty sensation is pictured in an Instagram picture with singer Demi Lovato
The 19-year-old posted a picture of himself inside a red phone box after arriving in London to launch Morphe’s second UK store in Birmingham
He claims his father walked in on him in a state of undress talking to a boy online once.
The following day his parents asked to see his internet history, inadvertently revealing his sexuality.
He added: ‘There it was. The closet door was flung open and outran me. Unintentionally.’
The 19-year-old male beauty blogger is followed by millions of ‘sisters’ or fans all over the world
Charles graduated from Bethlehem Central High School in June 2017. Located just south of Albany in New York State, it has featured on a list of America’s best high schools.
His social media following nearly cost him his career at 17 when he was accused of racism after posting about a visit to Africa online.
He wrote: ‘I can’t believe we’re going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola?’
After a furious backlash he admitted he was a ’17-year-old kid’ and apologised for ‘offensive stereotyping that is not okay’.
His family are extremely supportive and regular feature in his posts.
Charles has a mini-series on YouTube called Brother & Sister, which features him and his brother Ian chatting about their various lifestyle hacks.
His father is a contractor and helped him convert part of the family basement into a mini-studio – even before he hit the big time.
Charles’s mother Christie Dickinson is also on Instagram has accumulated 155,000 followers through her son’s fanbase.
She regularly posts family snaps and promotes her son’s brand with uploads of herself in his make-up products.
Charles is pictured showing off an impressive convertible car on the driveway of his new LA home
Posting this picture of his new state-of-the-art Los Angeles kitchen to Instagram the teenager wrote: ‘I’m a homeowner!’
She has been known to call out his trolls – telling one person who said Charles’s parents ‘should be ashamed’: ‘Actually quite the contrary!’
Describing how accepting both his parents are, he told the Ellen DeGeneres show: ‘They were like, ‘Oh, you know, we love you no matter what. Like if you’re trans, you can tell us.’ Charles says he does not identify as transgender.
He also has a talent for singing and is a member of an a Capella group called Flashback who record song covers and post them on YouTube.
He currently has no plans to focus on singing full-time, but has posted a number of clips to show off his voice.
Charles has spoken about negative comments he receives online, admitting that not everyone is ready to accept a boy who wears make-up.
Instagram started moderating his comments after he began getting abuse.
Charles posted this image on Instagram to show how much he has changed over his teenage years
A year after he first put his hand to make-up, he posted these two images to compare how far his skills have come – one showing his first ever enhanced look (left) and another with what he looks like today with the help of make-up today (right)
After moving to California he had to beg his fans to stop camping outside his house fearing for his safety.
In one exasperated post he revealed a man had travelled from another state to ‘try to kill him during one of his appearances’.
Most of his supporters heeded his warning, but others criticised him for posting images of his flash LA home online.
Charles is pictured in a crop top, hot pants and full face of make up in an Instagram post
The vlogger posted this picture at Coachella music festival in California, USA
Thousands of teenagers flocked to the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham in January to catch a glimpse of James Charles
There were claims on social media that Charles ‘broke Birmingham’ after the number of fans at the Bullring centre in the city centre held up traffic
It was partnership with Morphe that brought him to the UK for the first time last week. He was invited to cut the ribbon at their first branch outside London.
After posting a picture of himself outside a red phone box he appeared at the Bullring Centre in Birmingham.
Despite his fans only being able to see him for 30 seconds the shopping centre was packed with more than 8,000 screaming fans.
Motorists were forced to ditch their cars and the city was gridlocked for hours as frenzied teenagers rushed to see him.
Worried bosses were even forced to call in extra police and turn off the escalators over fears fans would be crushed as the centre reached full capacity.
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