How this undocumented student is coping with the fear of deportation
LOS ANGELES—An uncomfortable realization crept over me as the crew finished setting up our audio equipment: I was way more nervous to interview Lohanthony than he was to be interviewed.
Three years after posting his breakout “CALLING ALL THE BASIC BITCHES” video to YouTube, 16-year-old Anthony Quintal’s channel has more than 1.5 million subscribers; his follower counts on other forms of social media are even more impressive, with his Vine boasting more than 2.5 million.
And that fame has translated offline, as well. He got to hit up New York Fashion Week, get dressed by Marc Jacobs, bask in the IRL glory of Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox, and release a compilation album called Landscapes—and that’s just in the last two weeks.
Sitting in front of me, Lohanthony wasn’t quite the same boisterous, over-the-top persona that he presents in his videos. But, as he alternated between stone-faced snapchatting and smalltalk with a smile, he exuded a far more measured kind of confidence—one that had me terrified of betraying my 27 years with a “How do you do, fellow kids?” moment.
Born in Melrose, Mass., where most of his family still resides, Lohanthony grew up just over the northern state line in Salem, N.H. He attended the small New England town’s only secondary school, Salem High School, until recently. But as he makes clear in his videos, he didn’t exactly enjoy his time there.
In a recent Video of the Week titled, “5 STEPS TO RULING THE SCHOOL THIS YEAR,” Lohanthony describes roaming the Salem High hallways a “bitter, sad, lonely bitch.” He told me that his YouTube videos were a frequent topic of conversation among his classmates—attention that he says he didn’t really enjoy, even when it was positive.
And no, it wasn’t all positive. In a “BACK TO SCHOOL RANTS” video posted in 2013, a few days into his freshman year, Lohanthony calls out the “upperclassmen who hate me for my videos,” saying that he hopes they “can still say that” when they’re “scrubbing the dirt off my mansion floors in 10 years.” The cathartic rant didn’t go over well with his classmates, obviously, and they unleashed their vitriol on Lohanthony via Twitter; one person even told him to kill himself in a since-deleted tweet.
Lohanthony now attends school through an online program. He says that he prefers the experience, as it lets him focus on his favorite subjects like Spanish, English, and history without any social distractions. I’m sure the flexible schedule, one that lets him pop off to Fashion Week for a couple days, doesn’t hurt either.
He and his mother, Monica Quintal—who accompanied her son to the interview—permanently relocated to Los Angeles in July. Throughout our interview, a gigantic smile would creep across Lohanthony’s face whenever he talked about the move.
“I never thought that [uploading videos to YouTube would] get me a life in L.A. and a life like this whatsoever,” he told me, his voice far more grounded than the Auto-Tuned chanteur who Mariahs his way through “Lohanthonyyyy’s video of the-e wee-ee-eek” every seven days. “I’m super grateful for it.”
Living in Los Angeles has also allowed Lohanthony to spend more time with his favorite YouTubers, like Rickey Thompson and Jenn McAllister. The entertainment capital has, unsurprisingly, become a haven for many of the site’s most notable personalities—a place where, with the right connections, they can take their craft, and brand, to the next level. Tyler Oakley (7.6 million subscribers) and GloZell Green (3.9 million subscribers) are two of the biggest names to have made the move, and now Lohanthony has joined their ranks.
Sept. 11 saw the release of Landscapes, a music compilation album that Lohanthony curated for fellow YouTuber Connor Franta’s new label, Heard Well.
“I compiled a bunch of songs that I think would fit well on one CD,” he told me, “trying to, like, boost these artists who need some attention.”
These artists to watch include Kindness, VanJess, and Gallant, whose Landscapes opener, “Weight in Gold,” is Lohanthony’s personal favorite song on the track list.
“I’d been wanting to find an outlet for music for the longest time,” he continued. “I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument… But I do have a passion for music, and I do have a very large audience. So, I thought, ‘Why not find a way to be able to do something with that?'”
That same taste-making sensibility is featured in one of Lohanthony’s recent YouTube videos titled, “EVERYDAY STYLE LOOKBOOK HAUL (HOW I DRESS AND WHERE I SHOP).” The back-to-school fall fashions—a Neapolitan ice cream-tinted mix of ASOS, American Apparel, Nasty Gal, and secondhand Etsy finds—betray a developed understanding of how to create a cohesive aesthetic. Whether in music or fashion, I’m curious to see where he develops that understanding from here.
While we were on the subject of his recent musical endeavors, I asked Lohanthony whether he had any other projects in the works. He said that he’s considering writing and recording skits for his YouTube channel but that the idea is still in the planning stages. Wherever his career leads him, Lohanthony says that he can’t imagine a time when he’ll stop making videos.
“YouTube is my outlet of creativity,” he said. “It’s, like, my therapy. I will never willingly stop posting [on] YouTube ever.”
And with a handshake, some friendly smalltalk, and a quick snap for Fusion’s Snapchat account, I helped escort the most famous teenager I’ll probably ever meet out of the building.
Lohanthony’s new music compilation album, Landscapes, is available now on Heard Well, LLC.