Latoya Ali: LaToya's Life
Have you ever had the desire to take a leap of faith? Wanted something so bad, but you were afraid of what people would think? Afraid that you would fail? That is how I felt before I decided to try YouTube full-time. I knew I would be misunderstood and judged by some people who wouldn’t consider it a “real” job. But sometimes to see what God has in store for you, it seems apparent that you have to take a leap of faith. I see where I am today with my two beautiful children and my loving, supportive husband. I am so thankful that I found it within me to be courageous enough to take that leap of faith.
I was already programmed to believe that life was about survival. I saw my mom do her best to get by on a daily basis. Growing up, I remember our hot water getting cut off because Mom couldn’t afford to pay the bill. Sometimes she would have to boil water for us over the stove so we could take our morning showers. I knew I could have lived an easier life living with my dad’s side of the family, but I felt the need to stick by Mom’s side through the hard times. Whatever she was going through in life, I wanted to be there for her. A lot of people think that because my dad was a professional baseball player that I must have lived a plush lifestyle. Yes, I had cool things, but I honestly felt bad a lot of the time because my brothers and sister didn’t have those things. I remember my sister, Tani, always saying: “LaToya is Mom’s favorite” because I got a lot of clothes and things. A lot of the time, I would allow my sister to wear jeans from my DKNY jean collection (I had over ten pairs). I felt bad because I had so much stuff, so I would share with my sister. I remember when we would get in fights because she would come home with my jeans dirty. She had this habit of wiping her food on her pants, and she would always bring my jeans back with stains.
As I’ve gotten older, it’s become apparent to me why I always had jobs that I dreaded. It’s because that seemed like the way of survival. Quickly, I began to adopt a different mindset. I started reading more and understanding how successful people think and do. Successful people find ways to change things they do not like. There is no sense in being miserable with any part of your life. It only adds unnecessary stress. Adam helped me realize that I needed to make that first choice to invest in myself. Slowly, I began to believe that the person that values me the most was me, and I needed to put myself first.
Seeing my dad’s success motivated me to work hard to achieve my dreams. Growing up, I wanted to be just like my dad. I looked up to him, and he was successful. I wanted to live my passion and get paid for it. I wanted to be famous and drive a Range Rover just like Dad. I remember, when Dad played baseball in Japan. After his baseball games, fans would chase my dad’s car and ask for pictures and autographs. I remember this Japanese boy named Makoto would always run up to the car and give me Japanese grape bubble gum. Makoto and I became friends, and he would go to my dad’s practices with me. He would come over and hang out. Yes, I had a crush on him, but we didn’t speak the same language. I remember purchasing a Japanese/English book and that’s how we would communicate. My cousins, Ana and Tenesha, would come out to Japan to keep me company. My stepmom got Ana and I a Japanese tutor so we could learn how to speak the language (more like be able to understand my crush Makoto).
YouTube was the perfect platform for me to create videos and become one step closer to being just like my dad. Starting a new venture is always a scary risk. Back then, I cared about what people thought about me. Family members would tell me that I was wasting my time, ask me why was I embarrassing myself, tell me that I’m making a fool out of myself and that I would regret it when I got older…the list goes on. Talk about dream killers! I took that leap of faith and pumped out content. When I first started to create videos, I was so nervous. I was always nervous when storyboarding ideas, wondering how people were going to react and if it was fresh and original enough. Was I still being authentic? Was this actually how I felt about the situation? Was it a step forward or a step back? All these questions had no answers, so I decided to put myself out there. YouTube was the space I could be 100 percent my crazy and wacky self. Eventually, I became comfortable acting like the person I wanted to be that I was the same person off-camera as well. I started pumping out content, and a lot of the feedback was great. A lot of people thought my videos were hilarious.
I was struggling with treading the line between being myself and keeping people happy. All it takes is one time for the tide to turn and everyone to hate me. At the beginning, that was my ultimate fear: that people wouldn’t care what I had to say. Worse that they would hate me and everything I stood for. I learned to trust in my struggle and that nothing that was worth anything ever came quickly. Starting a new venture is always a scary risk. I have to give credit to all my fellow Vloggers out there; I now realize how hard it is. Developing original content that pleases viewers but also stays true to yourself is a delicate line to tread. So many times I thought about quitting and going to work in the corporate world. Many of my friends were in university, or starting out in their new careers, and then had jobs that were 9-5 on Monday through Friday. And while those jobs all came with their own set of difficulties, they seemed to make my friends a lot less stressed than I was.
It’s funny how people’s lives always look a lot easier from the outside. It’s human nature to want to take the path of least resistance. In the early days, I yearned for the routine and regularity even though I knew that I wasn’t cut out for a desk job. In a corporate job, the buck didn’t stop with me. So as long as I did what I was told, I would get a paycheck every two weeks. As a YouTuber, my financial earnings were dependent on my production. I was the boss of myself. Therefore, I had to hold myself accountable. And while that may have been a lot of responsibility, I was doing what I loved. And since when has a challenge been a bad thing?
Latoya Ali, LaToya's Life
YouTube star: LaToya "LaToya Forever" Ali has been putting a smile on people’s faces since 2009 when she first picked up a video camera and started sharing her fascinating thoughts, hilarious stories and moments from her life. She soon became one of the great YouTube stars. A hugely successful black woman as well as great YouTube star, LaToya continues to capture the hearts of millions with her playful, quirky, and inspirational vlog (and with the help of her adorable daughter and loving husband).
How she became LaToya Forever: However, LaToya didn’t always fit in. In this no-hold-barred inspirational memoir, she carefully looks back on her journey from friendless to “internet famous,” and her step-by-step journey from self-consciousness to self-loving. In her words, “Just being able to connect with people from all walks of life. My videos have made an impact…I feel like I’m making a positive change in the world.”