Long before it was every teenager’s career dream, Linda Dong (or LeendaDProductions as you may know her) was on YouTube, paving the way as arguably one of the first local, Asian stars to craft funny, engaging content that would resonate with millions around the world.
Cold Tea Collective’s Natasha Jung sat down with the YouTube creator to chat about content creation, body image, and her latest project.
Listen to the full interview below and subscribe to our podcast on most streaming platforms:
From hilarious parody pieces like Asian Mean Girls Trailer, to funny yet painfully relatable relationship videos such as My Boyfriend’s Hot Best Girl Friend, Dong’s content is a lighthearted look at dating while highlighting differences in culture and gender.
We had a chance to sit down with the iconic Vietnamese Canadian content creator to talk to her about her YouTube career, her favourite pieces, and where she gets her inspiration for her latest song, skit, or meme.
When Dong first joined YouTube back in 2011 and began experimenting, she says she was just testing it out. Telling some stories, trying her hand at producing content, and seeing where it would go. Today, her YouTube channel, LeendaDProductions, has 1.2 million subscribers and her videos have amassed over 220 million views.
The creator got her start in writing and directing by basing her videos on her experiences and observations about dating. Inspired by other YouTubers like Ryan Higa, she put her friends in her videos and the views started rolling in. “Basically everything I write is based on my life,” she says. “I can be really awkward sometimes. Writing is kind of therapy for me. When I’m going through something like a breakup, I write about it. And then it makes me feel better because I put everything I wanted to say [into my work].”
Her mix of earnest, personal stories, and comedic timing struck gold with viewers. After seeing the incredible response to her work, she leaned into writing and producing, making funny parodies based off of other YouTubers, forming connections with content creators in L.A., and building her audience.
“We’re all kind of creators. We’re all in a lot of events and everyone’s in the same area. So that’s how I met everybody, which was pretty crazy. I remember being very starstruck when I met the Wong Fu guys,” she says, as she remembers meeting some of her favourite YouTubers. “I was like ‘Oh my god, I watch you all the time. Oh my god.’ So it was really exciting!”
Building a strong network in L.A. has enabled the YouTuber to write and produce on big projects — even from afar.
“That’s been really fun for me to pull people from places and just make a skit and make a story,” she says. “I wasn’t there in L.A., but I had The Asian Bachelor. I had all my friends be in it and it was the most fun because I felt like the script was really funny. I was in Vancouver, but everything was actually shot in L.A.”
While writing and producing remotely can have its own challenges, fans might be surprised to learn that there’s one area that Dong finds a bit more daunting.
“I would say the most stressful part is acting,” she says. “Being on set is really stressful for me because I have so many things on my mind, like the direction, timing, and everything”
Still, Dong says when weighing production, writing, action, and release, there’s one moment that makes her the most content. “I would say the most enjoyable is when it’s done,” she says. “I get to see the vision that I had from scratch. Seeing it out – that’s the most enjoyable for me. The finished project is when I’m the happiest.”
While she may make it look easy to dream up a storyline and script, direct, and produce a finished product, there are certain topics that she’s found it hard to cover in her videos. For example, the topic of body image and self-confidence.
While these are important topics that she’d like to cover, she’s aware of the need to approach the subject carefully. “I’ve touched on [body image] in my channel, but I’d like to expand on that” she explains. “It’s a touchy subject and trying to produce that content, you have to make it right and not have it offend anybody. I would like to push more of that content of body positivity, but it can go sideways if you don’t do it correctly.”
It’s a topic that she especially wants to cover for her younger audience – particularly those who are in high school and dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.
When I was in high school, I was dealing with a lot of comparisons… because it’s high school. It’s like, you’re literally in a place where you see everyone every single day and you know, there are the popular girls and stuff. And [you] kind of want to be like them. So I feel like when I make that type of content, it’s kind of like talking to my younger self. Like, this is what I wish I knew when I was younger.
While she describes herself as a “millennial girl trying to live life,” from the outside, she’s absolutely killing it. A successful YouTube career, friends with some of the biggest content creators out there, with millions of fans who follow her every move and emulate her videos. So what would she tell other aspiring YouTubers who want to be the next Linda Dong? Keep trying.
“How I see it is, if you love [creating content] so much, then you’ll keep going,” she says. “It’s like a relationship, right? If you love somebody, you’re going to keep continuing. If you don’t, then you’re going to break up.”
A lot of people ask me for advice for YouTube and stuff. And I see it as like, if you like it, try it. And then if it doesn’t work out or whatever, then try something new.”
With over 150 hit videos under her belt, what’s next for the YouTube creator? Fans can get ready to rejoice because she’s about to pursue something pretty bold — a short film.
“I think it’s probably going to be the biggest project I’ve ever, ever done, because it’s going to be like 45 minutes,” she says. “Basically, it’s my life and my past dating life. All into a 45-minute short film.”
With so many stories to tell, the biggest challenge may be keeping this short from becoming a full-length feature film.
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