With 4 million YouTube subscribers, and 10 million followers on Instagram, Bretman Rock has experienced intense amounts of social media growth in just four years. From TIME Magazine’s most influential teens, to Forbes 30 under 30, Bretman Rock’s talent and larger-than-life personality have not gone unnoticed. We had a chance to catch up with the twenty year old comedian and beauty guru to learn more about how he manages to do it all.

Bretman Rock
Subscribers: 4,050,008
Uploads: 59
Video Views: 154,576,574
Channel Type: Beauty
User created: Sep 23, 2012

Bretman’s professional-grade contouring skills, effortless confidence and carefree attitude lead people of all ages take an instant liking to him. Bretman Rock may be known for his beauty and makeup videos, but a glance at his channel reveals content driven by an exuberant personality that defies genre. Bretman’s success has been defined not by what he does but by who he is.

Who is Bretman Rock?

According to the newly 20 year old, he’s still finding his footing as an adult. “You’re not a teen anymore, so you have no excuse to be immature…and it’s like what do I do now?”

This is about as close to uncertainty as it gets for Bretman Rock, who, with the great amounts of success he has achieved, also maintains great amounts of confidence — though Bretman says that his unfiltered self-assurance predates any YouTube success.

Photography: Harold Julian, Morphe Creative Direction: Miranda Cheng

Prior to YouTube, Bretman Rock says he was “just a regular gay, Asian teenager.” He was both studious and athletic, attending track and student council during his high school years. Even in his younger years, Bretman says he always knew how to make some extra cash. “I was doing the most I could do to get money. So I would be selling rabbits, and I would literally buy Costco pack candies and sell them at school.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Rabbits.

“I bred rabbits from fifth grade on into high school. I used to help my uncle do yard work…So one time I was just picking out the weeds and this lady came up to me and she was like, ‘Oh, do you want my rabbits? My daughter is going to college.’ And I was like, ‘Bitch yes!’ So I grabbed the rabbits and I started doing research [on] how to breed them and shit. That was me, literally in fifth grade, girl.”

In addition to his entrepreneurial spirit, Bretman has a long cultivated love of fashion, which is what initially drew him to YouTube.

“Ever since I was little, too, I was obsessed with fashion I used to steal my auntie’s magazines, ‘cause she worked at [a] hotel and the hotel always had magazines that she would take home. So I would always take all her fashion magazines. I was really good at going to thrift shops, and so I started making videos… I started doing lookbooks and then I started posting them on YouTube. That was when I thought I was going to be a fashion guru.”

As Bretman got older his passions and focuses began to shift. He adjusted his content accordingly, focusing on makeup and beauty over fashion.

“….After a couple years, I fell in love with makeup and people liked my personality, so I started posting more of, like, lifestyle and makeup videos.”

Photo by Jacqueline Kulla

The Evolution of a YouTube Star

Bretman has come a long way since the early days of the channel he began in 2015. With millions of subscribers and a full time job at age twenty, it can be a lot for one person to take in.

“Honestly? I feel like even now I don’t realize that this is my job. Like I’m having so much fun with YouTube, not just YouTube, but with the whole social media thing … I honestly legit feel like it hasn’t even hit me yet that this is literally my job and my career at this point. I just feel like I can’t wrap my mind around it, like I just can’t even believe it.”

Though he maintains that he loves his job, making YouTube videos is far from easy, and Bretman has an easy answer for what his least favorite part of the upload process is.

Bretman tries not to plan videos too far in advance. Spontaneous videos like Get Ready for Hurricane with Me keep the channel fun.

“I hate editing my videos because I literally cannot hear my voice. I hate my voice so much I cannot sit there for hours editing my videos. So now [I have] an editor.”

For those who can’t afford to hire someone else to edit their videos, Bretman provides another solution: Don’t edit. For Bretman and similar creators, editing is not always a necessary part of the process, particularly when abandoning reliance on it can yield more casual and intimate content.

As a whole, Bretman says he still loves to film videos, especially when he can get his family involved in the process. On his channel he has swapped beauty tips and played “never have I ever” with his younger sister, eaten food and gone shopping with his niece, Cleo, and cooked adobo with his mother.

“I [appreciate] the fact that everyone loves when I film with my family members, and I love spending time with my sister and my niece or even my mom now. Filming videos with them is so much fun… The whole filming process is what makes me keep doing YouTube. I just love talking to people, and like… talking to myself [laughs].”

Though he is mostly known for his beauty videos, Bretman wears many hats, putting up everything from look books to mukbangs. He takes pride in keeping his content diverse and interesting and his family plays a large role in cultivating his spontaneity.

“I try my best not to follow trends because like, girl, I don’t have time, you know… I call my sister and I’m like ‘Girl, lets film something.’ I do whatever I feel like doing that day. I don’t really like to think about it… I just like my content to be very organic.”

This organic approach to making content is what keeps Bretman’s channel fresh and free of creative block.

“I just like to keep it spontaneous; I don’t really get blocked because I just think of the first thing that comes to mind and then I film it, and if it doesn’t work I’ll just delete it… [Making videos] is more of a trial and error process.”

In addition to developing the Bade in Paradise palette with Morphe, Bretman has worked with Fenty Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics.

100% Bretman-infused Collabs

Bretman’s latest collaboration was with well-known makeup brand Morphe. Bretman worked with them for months to create his ‘Babe in Paradise’ highlighter palette and signature brush. Though he has worked in the past with other brands such as Fenty Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, this is the first collaboration that allowed Bretman full control to show off his creative insights. The palette’s design was heavily inspired by Bretman’s home in Hawaii, showcasing the cultural diversity and tropical colors of his hometown. The set has been extremely well received in its release, and it is currently sold out on Morphe’s website.

The palette’s design was heavily inspired by Bretman’s home in Hawaii.

Bretman was extremely excited to tell us about the project and what it meant to him.

“Oh my gosh, the Morphe palette! So that came out in April, and literally I didn’t know that creating makeup would take so long. I started that project when I was a junior in high school and it launched almost a year after I graduated. It just woke me up to how much work actually goes into the makeup industry and how much work goes into the products and advertising… I just felt like a bad bitch like being able to choose my own colors and even design my own packaging and photoshoots. They basically just like let me do whatever the fuck I wanted, which is what i appreciate the most about Morphe. That palette is 100% me. It was also really cool picking inspiration from home. I’m one of the only influencers here in Hawaii, so I really wanted to represent where I’m from and where I grew up.”

The Morphe x Bretman Rock Babe in Paradise palette includes six custom highlighter shades and Bretman’s signature brush. Each shade, from BehBeh Gurl to Shady Bitch, holds a special meaning for the creator.

Of all the 100% Bretman-infused shades on the palette, one shade’s name holds a particular significance to him.

“Mahu is my favorite shade on the palette. It’s this golden highlighter and it is so cute. The word ‘Mahu’ translates to gay or the third gender in Hawaiian. Growing up here, people used to call me a ‘mahu’ all the time. I learned to embrace being gay and being called that name because back in Hawaii historically mahu were looked up to. So now I’m like ‘Look up to me, bitch. I am a mahu.’”

Reclaiming past negative experiences to further one’s own self love appears to be the essence of Bretman’s message as an influencer, and clearly the “Babe in Paradise” project is no exception.

No worries if you couldn’t snag a highlighter palette: According to Bretman, he is not planning on slowing down any time soon, and there are more makeup collaborations on the way.

“I do have other makeup things planned. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk about the brands I’m working with yet, but it should be out soon. Give me a couple months.”

Beyond Makeup

Producing makeup is not Bretman’s only passion; branching out into something as different as fitness might be on the horizon for his channel.

“I’m really into fitness right now. I’ve been into fitness my whole life basically. If you didn’t know my name, Bretman Rock, is from the wrestlers Bret Hart and The Rock. Growing up my dad tried so hard to try and make me this straight jock, which would never happen, but he did that so much that doing sports and fitness stuck with me. So I really wanna branch out into fitness. You don’t really see any gay MUAs (makeup artists) that are funny and do fitness. Like I wanna be doing the most, and being the cutest as well.”

Family Above All

But “doing the most and being the cutest” is hard work, and Bretman says he wouldn’t have gotten this far without the support of his family.

“I think it’s just because at a young age my parents always knew that I was gay. I don’t think I even have a coming out story, because my parents always knew that I was gay… I grew up very Catholic, and I grew up going to church all the time, but when my dad got a feeling that I was gay he was always very accepting of it.”

Family is a central focus on Bretman’s channel. In Cooking Adobo with my Mother, he hangs out with his mom and ask questions about her life.

For Bretman, acceptance from his parents has taken many forms over the years.

“I remember on my fourth birthday party. I got a toy car, and inside the toy car were Barbies, and that was the first time ever that I felt accepted. And even with my mom, if you watch my recent videos with my mom, I can literally be myself around her. So I guess what inspires me about my parents is that they are so accepting of who their son is.”

It’s clear that Bretman and his sister have a close relationship. In this video, the siblings play a round of Never Have I Ever.

It’s clear that in Bretman’s life, family gets top priority over all else, and in many ways, sharing that love of family with his audience has helped his channel grow. Focusing on family has ensured that Bretman never loses sight of what is most important, even amidst great change and a rapidly growing career. In such an image heavy industry, Bretman knows that comparison is toxic, so he says he tries to focus inward rather than attempting to be like anyone else on YouTube.

“Sometimes, I feel like I am the only person living in this world. I don’t know if it’s just ’cause I’m a Leo, but I don’t look up to nobody else but myself. I honestly don’t get inspired by many people besides my parents… My only inspirations are myself and my family.”

Bretman’s niece, Cleo, is featured in many of his videos, but in Eating with Cleo, we get to learn a bit more about their relationship.

Haters Can Deal with Themselves

Bretman’s laser focus on his priorities in life also comes in handy when dealing with hate online. According to Bretman, the secret is to focus on your own merit, rather than the negativity of someone who wants to bring you down. He chooses to believe in himself instead of the haters.

“I honestly think of haters as ghosts, if you think they’re dead, then they’re dead, and if you think they’re not there, and then they are not there. I don’t believe in haters. I feel like haters are just bored, and I’m also bored, but I don’t hate. Haters are just people who don’t know what else to do with their lives. So why am I gonna entertain that when I could entertain other people? So you know what I say? ‘If you hate me you can deal with that yourself, I don’t have to fix it because I’m not the one hating.’ I don’t really deal with haters, I just let haters deal with themselves. I honestly don’t have time.”

On camera and off, Bretman is 100% himself 100% of the time.

Using Your Influence

On camera and off, Bretman is 100% himself 100% of the time, and he has no time or desire to apologize for it. But even with such unabashed pride, being an openly gay influencer comes with a unique set of challenges that can be difficult to for anyone to navigate. After four years of experience, Bretman’s advice for handling life as an LGBT+ role model is simple.

“As a gay influencer, I feel that you should always keep in mind the fact that you are basically a walking activist… We should always embody everything that has to do with being prideful in who you are.”

With that, Bretman knows there are also many positive aspects that come with creating YouTube content. For all the young creatives looking to start a YouTube channel of their own, Bretman shares this parting advice. Look within yourself and find love there.

Photography: Harold Julian, Morphe Creative Direction: Miranda Cheng

“I would honestly ask yourself why you are making videos… If you love to make videos and love to entertain people, then make content that makes you happy; don’t make the content that everyone else is making. Be yourself and as long as you love yourself people will fall in love with you, too. I feel like a lot of influencers forget that they have to embody self love.”

Undoubtedly, Bretman Rock is a person who continues to practice what he preaches every day. In a perfectionist, image focused, social media climate, YouTube could do well with more influencers like Bretman — influencers who are driven by their own desire to connect with others, rather than a desire to be like everyone else. In sitting down to talk, we learned that Bretman’s on and offline persona’s are one in the same. Bretman Rock is his own person and his work connects with people because of the clear passion he has for the content he creates. All aspects of Bretman Rock’s life can be seen reflected back in his videos. His Filipino heritage, Hawaiian background and identity as a feminine gay man, are all attributes that make his content better. Without them, Bretman wouldn’t be who he is. In 2018, Bretman Rock’s success shows us that being authentically yourself will bring more love and support than hate, if one is only brave enough to live their truth.

Get YouTuber.

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