A Click Away: YouTuber Ceylan Le Compte

Interview by Wen Hsiao

With over two hundred thousand subscribers and fifty six million views (recorded at time
of the interview) combined on his Youku and YouTube channels, Ceylan Le Compte has earned an remarkable status within the Chinese gaming community. With his unique ethnic background (half-Belgian, half-Chinese), creative ideas, and outgoing personality, Ceylan has certainly made a name for himself. I sat down with Ceylan in a small cafĂ© in the middle of a crowded mall for the September issue of Lithium. He became comfortable quickly, laying back on thecouch with one hand on his knee and another balancing himself. After taking a large sip from his latte, I pressed the record button on my phone and we began our interview.

The Beginning
“What got you in to making videos initially?” When asked, Ceylan’s eyes sparked with
“Okay, what got me started making videos starts with me going back to Belgium
because my life in China was pretty hard, my school was pretty hard, and there is some family issues, so I went back to Belgium to actually study there.” He began explaining, “And my language was not so good, so I studied in a language school in Brussels. I had a lot of free time, so I (used that) to browse YouTube. Now, that was the first time I heard YouTube in my life, when I was thirteen years old. I thought it was pretty cool stuff you know, all the whatever- RihannaVEVO, JustinBieberVEVO, those are some pretty cool channels. Eventually, I heard someone talking about this game called Minecraft on the internet. So I’m like, ´...I should check this out on YouTube, right?´ I checked it out on Youtube, and it seemed pretty fun, so I watched some more videos, and I got in to a channel called Yogscast. I really like their channel, so I watched like a lot. Finally, after two months, I convinced my dad to buy me Minecraft, and that’s when I actually started playing. In Minecraft, there are lots of servers, right? So, I got on a server and I started playing a lot and met some friends. And they all asked me if I had Skype. I did have Skype but not a microphone, which is a sad thing. So the next day, I went out to buy a microphone, only to find out they deleted me off Skype for some reason, probably because I’m not cool enough or something. I was thinking, what should I do with this microphone? I started thinking about all the videos I watched every day. And I’m like, maybe it’s cool if I make some videos. That’s how I started.”

His Motivation
“What would you consider to be your biggest motivation in the beginning?”
“When I first started making these videos, no one was watching me- no, actually like two
hundred people? Which is kind of a lot, considering if you start right now, probably no one would watch you at all. But at that time, no one commented. I just kept going, because it’s fun.” He said, taking another sip of his latte, adjusting himself on his seat to make himself comfortable. Without hesitation, Ceylan began further explaining with his hands moving in the air. ”First of all, of course I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun. Second of all, there was some part of me that thinks maybe since I´m making videos, I’ll be like all the other...cool YouTubers who do gaming videos for a living. Now that’s completely illogical at thirteen years old, but it kept me going.

“Would you consider that to be your biggest motivation to this day?”
“Yes, that’s definitely my biggest motivation. To be able to make gaming videos and make money and still be able to make things out of my passion. That’s definitely my biggest motivation.”

His Thirteen Year Old Self

“Actually I would say I want to learn from my thirteen year old self rather than giving
advice.” He surprises me with his answer.
“How so?” I asked, intrigued.
“I had this high level of dedication and passion at thirteen that I never had again, even to this day. That was when I am the most motivated- when there is not a lot of success. And it’s kind of hard to balance this, because as soon as you have success, motivation just dies. That’s when it’s the most dangerous because if you don’t have motivation, you cannot keep being successfulMy motivation to do things is lessening as the years go by. One of the reasons is that I have more stuff going on in life. I started filming my videos, like some documentaries and several side projects I work on, and those take away the time I have on my Youku videos. I still love what I do, I still love making videos, I still love making those side projects. When I was thirteen years old, there were not a lot of things going on in my life. It was just a computer and me, nothing else. I could spend sixteen hours every day just grinding out videos, watching tutorials just to be successful. Now that I have school, a social life, and everything else, it’s hard to focus on one thing, and that’s why my motivation has lessened since I was thirteen years old.”

Illustration by Daisy Acosta

The Decision

“I quit school when I was fourteen years old. Ninth grade in Chinese local school is the last year of middle school, so we have an exam called ´Zhong-Kao´ which is a pretty big test that you would have to take. It determines which high school you could go in. So, starting from ninth grade, I had a lot of homework and that gave me a lot of pressure on my Youku channel because I could not keep making those videos as often as I wanted to. I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to continue my Youku stuff and continue with my
passion, now is the time to do those things. I talked to my parents to think of a solution- now of course, my parents would not agree to quit school. After weeks of negotiation though, they finally saw my point and agreed for me to leave school for a year and earn enough
money to go to an international school, which is where I am right now. International schools are very relaxed compared to Chinese local schools. You can go home at three in the afternoon, instead of five or six at night. And there’s less homework! 

Edgy Vegetarian
“What is a major controversy that you’ve been a part of? How has it affected you or your channel as a whole?”
“Well, there are a lot of controversies around me.” He laughs. “I always speak what’s on
my mind on social media, to my fans, or in my videos. The biggest controversy was when I
called out a YouTuber for basically being a hypocrite. He talked about how he was going to
protect animals and the environment and everything while still eating meat. Me being a vegetarian at the time was pretty edgy, so I got pretty offended.” He cracks a devilish grin. “So I called him out in my videos, saying that what he was doing was hypocritical. Naturally, people reacted negatively- especially his fans. I don’t like fake people, so I just called him out like that. Now, because I was fourteen years old at the time, that’s obviously an immature move. I don’t regret calling him out for that, though. Being a part of controversy actually toughens you. Everyone calls you out and you just have to take it.”

“Have you ever felt censored or restricted on Youku?” Youku is a Chinese video sharing
platform and China is known to censor information from its people on media. I felt the need to ask a boy growing up under both western and eastern influences how traditional
Chinese online media would affect him. “Have I ever felt censored making videos? Yes and no. I know there is censorship on the website, but I just never follow their rules.” He
added lightly. “I never felt restricted, but there are certain consequences that
come with that. There’s a series I made called Happy Wheels. It’s a kind of bloody game, but it was one of my most successful series and averaged in more than 100,000
views per video. One day, Youku just decided they don’t want these kind of videos anymore, and all thirty episodes of Happy Wheels just got deleted. My revenue from those videos was
lost as well. I definitely felt censored because of that. Also, Youku developed this new commenting system which basically made the top comment the one with the most characters. Immediately, all of the top comments in my videos were spam. I made a video talking about that and it got deleted overnight with 20,000 views. It’s kind of scary that they can just delete a video because they don’t like it when there is a real issue.”

You Think You Know Him
“What’s something you wish more people knew about you?” I asked. 
“I don’t wish anyone to know anything more about me. I’m not trying to make people think of me in a certain way. It’s just too tiring to live my life like that. There will always be people who love me and people who don’t. And that’s okay! They can just watch someone else.”

Not The End
“What kind of impact do you want to have?”
“I have no idea, probably make the world better. You have to have power in the world to have a certain impact, and to do that, you need wealth or power. You have to gain those things to actually make a true impact.”

Ceylan Le Compte isn’t that different from me and you. He’s a seventeen year-old boy
who has a burning passion for what he does. He speaks what’s on his mind and does what he loves. Ceylan knows that in order to pursue the bigger image, you have to sacrifice certain aspects of your life. When he stopped school for a year to make money so he could pursue his dreams, Le Compte made a leap most people would be scared to make. Ceylan Le Compte, to some, are just a click away, but he is so much more than just a click.

View the entire interview here, and check out Ceylan's YouTube channel!

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