We had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Jude Valentin, also known on the ‘net as MermaidQueenJude. Jude does it all – from her YouTube channel loaded with total self love #inspo, to her podcast, photog business, and blog (featuring tarot readings) she’s a good role model for us all.
How did you get started with your YouTube channel? How has your online community most changed your life?
Every YouTuber has two dates of when they started Youtube – when they joined the platform and when they actually started taking their content seriously. I started making content for real in the winter of 2016. I participated in Vlogmas, a monthly challenge in the month of December to post a vlog from the 1st to the 25th (Christmas).
I had been toying with the idea of a Youtube Channel for a long time because I had things I wanted to say and I realized that Youtube could give me the platform to say them. During college, it was a way for me to express myself as I was growing into this newly formed version of myself.
The Mermaid Kingdom has changed my life in the most fulfilling and compassionate way. It is a collection of the best that the internet has to offer. They make me laugh, they lift me up, and they are always in my corner. I want to be the best version of myself for them.
When did you realize you were becoming an influencer in the queer and body positive communities?
I don’t think I really felt like an Influencer until the Insatiable stuff happened last year. I began a hashtag (#notyourbefore) and a lot of people posted in it, shouted it out, etc. I was doing what I always did, but for the first time, other people were listening. I never planned on becoming an “influencer” because you don’t plan for those kinds of things – but we’re here, we’re queer, and I guess we’re an influencer now.
I assume you get some hate in the comments – seems to come with the territory. How do you stay unaffected?
I don’t think I’m unaffected, I just think I’m centered. I’ve detached myself from other people’s ideas of me, because I know who I am. People who have an issue with me, typically, are fighting their own demons. And I’m compassionate and empathetic to that struggle, so I understand where they are coming from (for the most part). But I also am really good about boundaries and setting those boundaries – I think online spaces are like our homes because it is where we spend a lot of our time on the internet, so the boundaries are an important step for this work.
I know you went to school for acting and have taught for a Chicago after-school program (assuming this is performing arts related as well?) What led you to choose that major? Do you feel like that’s played a role in your pursuits as an adult?
I have been in acting since I was in the 7th grade, I went to an arts high school and going to an arts college just seemed the next step after that. Acting was a way for me to tell stories. At the root of who I am, I am a storyteller, a healer, and a witch. Acting was the perfect way (before youtube) to blend all of those things. I got to be empathetic and compassionate about stories that were not about me, that were outside of me.
I think acting really shaped who I am as a person. I am always chasing the human experience. Chasing that intimacy. The beauty of film acting is that it’s a connection between two (or more) people in a scene. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a film set operate, but it is a magical thing. Stage acting is the same way – you are always chasing intimacy, ensemble, and solidarity.
You’ve recently started a podcast. What are your aims for that?
Listen, as a Leo, I love to listen to myself talk. But also, there are things I want to discuss and say that I can’t say in a seven minute YouTube video, or in a caption on Instagram. It is a way for me to express myself in another avenue and strengthen some new skills. I am always learning and growing, and chasing that growth. Right now, podcasting is helping me chase the fun.
What are some things you wish you could have told your younger self? What is some advice for our readers?
I actually have written letters to my younger self numerous times, and I oftentimes say that I’m doing this for my younger self. I wish I could’ve told her that life would be so much simpler if she stopped putting weight in what other people think about her. Other people’s opinions about you, have nothing to do with you. That is the biggest lesson I’ve learned in adulthood.
Is there anything you’d like to plug?
Join the mermaid kingdom (on Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube)! We are a compassionate, empathetic community of folks who spend their time discussing queerness, mental health, body image, and more. I recently got a cat, so a lot of my social media is about him as well.
Sara Remus is the founder and Executive Director for Pop Culture Positive. A California native, she lived in the golden state’s high desert and Central Valley until 2015 when she relocated to Boston to start a new East Coast life. She is passionate about creating spaces for inclusion, critical thinking, and changing how we handle body image. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.