Exclusive: Rebecca Black Tells Us What She’s Been Up To Since “Friday”

PHOTO CREDIT: Jin-Woo Prensena.
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to accidentally become famous? You make a YouTube account in your early teens, and release a well-made, but totally juvenile music video. You're 13 and awkward. You're new to the internet. You suddenly become a household name. But then everyone moves on. Other, younger people release wilder and more embarrassing videos. Other events go viral. Vine is introduced. Snapchat comes out. It's a whole new game. And you're a whole new person, still somewhat defined by your one famous music video, which has almost 100 million hits on YouTube. That's the Rebecca Black story. And now, five years after releasing the song heard round the world, she's ready to expand on her story, exclusively to Refinery29. Not only that, but Black is entering her last year of being a teenager, celebrating her 19th birthday on June 21. Think of how much you've changed since you were 13 — a whole lot. The singer, actress, vlogger, and internet icon told us about the trials and tribulations that come with overnight fame at a young age. She also talks about her new music, which will likely come out later this year (she already has five or six songs, but she warns that they're "very different from anything that you’ve heard from me before"), and how social media has shaped her life. She jokes that she forgets how old she is sometimes. "It makes me forget that I’m not 35 right now. I’m only about to turn 19," she said, laughing, "I feel like I’m much older than I actually am." Spoiler alert: Even though she may feel old herself, she's already a lot cooler than we were at 19.
When you first came out with “Friday,” I was 19, and now you’re turning 19. It’s the five-year anniversary of the song and you’re in such a different place now, making new music.
"Yeah, I mean obviously you can relate [to this] — it’s crazy to me even just that it’s been five years... It seems like it was a completely different time. So much of my life has changed in five years, I’m in such a different spot, but to hear other people’s stories about that and to hear where they were is one of my favorite things. A lot of people remember where they were when they first heard the song."
Do you ever forget that “Friday” happened?
"I guess. It feels so long ago, and I’ve grown up so much. I was only 13 [when we filmed it] and I thought I had the whole world figured out by then. Now, I still think I have the whole world figured out. At lot of my friends are like, 'I remember when I first saw this video and you’re not that person.' There’s nothing about me in that song. I wasn’t going out and partying when I was 13 at all, so it’s not true! [Laughs]"
Do you think if you came out with that song today, it would have the same kind of viral moment?
"I think that the caliber has certainly been raised. I feel like every week there’s something new. There’s a new dance move or something that’s happening. I don’t know, I couldn’t tell you what made that song do what it did — I didn’t intend for it to do that. There was no plan behind it."
You said “Friday” wasn’t really about you personally, but does that song influence the style of music you’re working on today? Or are you purposefully trying not to sound that way?
"I didn’t write that song. I had nothing to do with it like that. I had no intention of it ever being a song that represented me as an artist. I didn’t even know I could be an artist at that point. So now I have five more years of life experience, and I’ve become such a music-lover. I’m constantly finding new things. Now I’ve learned to tell my own story through my music, which I think has been one of the biggest challenges."
Was singing something that you always wanted to do, or was it something that manifested after the whole "Friday" phenomenon?
"I’ve grown up singing, dancing, and acting. That was my life. The reason I even did the 'Friday' video was because I was in middle school and I was a theater geek and I wanted to put something on my résumé so it looked nice when I applied to Juilliard or NYU. I wanted experience in a studio and with shooting something professional, because I had no insight to that. I didn’t even think my mom would say yes to letting me do it. Through this whole experience, developing myself as a singer and as a vocalist and a musician, I’ve grown, and gotten even more excited because of it. I figured out new things [about myself] that I didn’t even know were there."
Did you end up applying to NYU or Juilliard, or using it the way you thought you would?
"No! [Laughs] No, I didn’t apply. I promised my parents to give me two years after high school to give it a shot, and then we would talk and see if college would happen. At some point would love to revisit, because I’m so jealous of anyone who gets to go to those schools." Would you still apply with that video?
"[Laughs] No, I don't think I would apply with that video. But again, it has really given me so many opportunities that I didn't have before."
I see online that you are creating new content and moving on. Do you feel like you can now be post-"Friday" Rebecca Black?
"I think that ever since I started posting YouTube videos and showing more of myself than just being that 'Friday' girl, I feel like a lot of people have liked it and gotten to know me more as a person. There are definitely people that have not forgotten about it, but they also know a lot more about me now. There are a lot of people that will tweet me saying, "Oh my god, what are you up to now? I totally remember you from 'Friday.''"
What has social media done for your career?
"It’s basically the basis of it. Over the past few years, social media has grown so much and become this entirely new world ever since 'Friday' was a thing. It’s more than just viral videos or cat videos now — there are entire careers built off of it. It’s so exciting for me to see people use that as a platform to showcase themselves, because that’s exactly what I did. I was 16 in high school, and there was nothing different about me other than the fact that this video happened — I was still going through teen things, and I’m still going through teen things, and figuring out I have to bring people along with me is what is so fun."
Would you ever make an app?
"Right now I know there are a bunch of influencers that have made apps. I don’t have anything that I can think of off the top of my head, but maybe one day."

Can you tell me about the new music you are working on?

"I hate labeling my new music with a genre. My favorite kind of music is stuff that’s cool, out-there, and different. We’ve tried so many different things and really just experimented. I have some songs that are completely different from others, but that's what I love about them. I finally feel like I have something that is mine. I think people will — I hope people will relate to it." Are you doing anything in addition to making new music?
"I had been pushing it off for so long because I wanted to focus on music, but I just last month filmed a show with AwesomenessTV. It’s called Royal Crush. It actually premiered on June 20, which is exciting. I forgot how much I loved acting, too; it was one of my first things even before I found singing."
How have your goals changed throughout the years, in terms of your career path and where you see yourself?
"Over the last few years, I’ve gotten really good at putting a lot of pressure on myself that if something wasn’t perfect then it just wasn’t good enough. I always forget how young I am. I know I have so much time to do whatever I want and explore. I’m so lucky to be in a position where I can kind of try new things, and something might work and be great, or something might not work and then we’ll move on. My goal is to keep having fun with it. If I can look back at my life every 10 years and check in with myself, and ask, 'Hey, am I still loving what I’m doing?' And [if I] say 'Yes' every time, then my job is done."


A photo posted by Rebecca Black (@justcallmerebecca) on

Do you have any advice for people who are your age or younger who are trying to use the internet to put themselves out there? Is there one thing you did you would want to go back and change?
"I’d say I don’t know if I would change anything really, because I don’t know if I would be here without any of what happened. I’d tell them to remember when you’re doing something online, once it’s out there, it’s out there, and it stays online forever. So only do what you’re comfortable [with]. Never feel like you have to give in to any trends that are going on. I think one of the best things is being able to find people on the internet that are so unapologetically themselves. I think what makes YouTube, Vine, and Instagram so great is that they’re meant to be creative outlets. You should be having fun with it, especially if it is your job. I don’t have to go sit in a cubicle. Right now, I’m sitting here in my chair at home, and I can walk to my bedroom and film and work in this space that I love, and share it with people and be personal and real."
Follow Rebecca Black on Twitter to hear the latest on her upcoming music.

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