The video was called "Meet Your First Black Girlfriend." In under two minutes, Hughes rapid-fires through the hypothetical questions a white boyfriend might ask her. After waking up to see the video got 10,000d hits, she calls her mom and says, "Mom, this is the big one." Now, it has over 1 million.
Within a year of its release, Hughes' star was officially launched. She was making videos with major outlets like MTV and Cosmo, and other YouTubers, like John Green. She's still relentlessly busy. Obviously, out September 24 by Penguin Random House, is only a sliver of her recent activity — according to an interview with Forbes, Hughes is also working on multiple shows and web series.
"Meet Your Black Girlfriend" showcases Hughes' characteristic style: Using affable humor to unpack a potentially sensitive topic. Eventually, Hughes would direct those powers toward incisive news commentary and explainers on topics like intersectional feminism, informative yet somehow always friendly.
Obviously is written in the same delightful style as her videos. Hughes calls her debut book a "variety show." She's right: She bounces from explaining how Neopets were a precursor to the Very Online Personality, to how her 15-year-old self perceived racism, turning her boundless curiosity into page-turner.
How does a person wield the Internet as a force for growth and good, like Hughes? Refinery29 asked Hughes that – and more. Hughes answers all our burning questions below.