It was past midnight in Vancouver when 23-year-old Jeremy Sancebuche, famously known as Mimiyuuuh, joined our video call. It was afternoon in Manila, Philippines where he lives with his family. He had just finished filming a new video, so his setup, made up of metallic fringe foils, was still intact. He waved and greeted me, and when he realized that it was late in Canada, he said, “Oh wow, you stayed up for me. Thank you!”
Mimiyuuuh—a name that came from Sancebuche’s college nickname “Mimi”—is witty, funny and unassuming. On YouTube, an online space that is saturated with personalities who act the same and creators who seem to focus solely on pumping content, Mimiyuuuh holds true to what matters most to him: being unapologetically himself.
This has paid off. Mimiyuuuh has become one of the Philippines’ fastest-growing YouTube personalities with almost three million subscribers on the platform, and he continues to gain millions of supporters across his social media channels and partner with multiple Filipino brands. Mimiyuuuh is everywhere: He has hosted celebrity events, endorsed a popular Filipino food seasoning mix and even lent his voice to a navigation software app.
On the call, though, Mimiyuuuh was down-to-earth. He knows what he wants and he speaks his mind. He talked about his career, being queer in the Philippines and choosing to speak up over silence.
How did your YouTube career start?
At first, I started with the viral video “Dalagang Pilipina” (a young Filipino lady) and after that, my friend told me that I should start vlogging for fun and that’s how it started. I didn’t really expect that it would become my job, my life now.
In the beginning, how did you feel when other local celebrities’ cover versions of “Dalagang Pilipina” gained more popularity over your original video?
I know, these actors rained on my parade! [Laughs] No, no, actually, I’m so happy that they did that. I think they helped to grow my audience, it gave me more audience and at the same time because of them it became part of the Filipino “culture,” and more people did their own version of “Dalagang Pilipina” because of them. Thanks to them.
What motivates you to continue producing content?
Umm, money. Money! [Laughs] I’d say my supporters who watch my content every week. It makes me happy that my videos serve as something that makes people feel good, something that rids their stress. What really inspires me the most especially during this time [of COVID-19] is that some of our frontliners message me on Instagram saying that they watch my videos during their break. However, at the same time, my videos are not enough to serve them. I think the government should focus on our health workers and give them decent pay and health insurance.
Your content is very unique, and people say you broke the mould of typical YouTubers by being unapologetically yourself. Why is being true to who you are important for you?
I think it’s easier for me to connect to my audience if they’re aware that what they know, feel and see that who I am in front of the camera is the same in real life. That’s so hard to fake and people will not want to watch you if you’re pretending to be someone else for the sake of content. And also, I don’t have time to please other people and to seek their approval. If they hate me, I don’t care. Get the hell out of this room! Wow!
I think being true to yourself really makes you unique and stand out from the rest. What I really love the most about staying true to myself is that I get the chance to inspire other people to love who they really are without considering other people’s opinions. Just do you!
What is it like being queer in the Philippines?
I think people are more accepting now when it comes to queer community unlike before, thanks to social media because more people have access to information. We also have influencers and artists who are part of the community and they normalize the presence of queer people. They help show that queer people are responsible and we serve as good examples to younger audiences.
But queer people are still fighting for some of our rights, like gay marriage and others. I hope that in the future, the government and other Filipinos support the human rights that aren’t given to the community.
You seem very political and have a strong stance.
Before I became a vlogger, I was Filipino first. So my heart goes to the Filipinos. As a vlogger, I was given a platform—a big platform—to speak for those who can’t and for those who aren’t heard. That’s always one of my goals.
A lot of queer people look up to you as their role model. How do you feel about it?
There’s pressure especially because I have a lot of younger audiences who struggle to come out. But you know, I’m so inspired that my videos can mould someone’s personality, someone’s future. I hope when they watch my videos, they follow the good things I do, especially to my family.
Through your videos, we’ve seen your relationship with your parents. Why is family so important for you?
It’s part of being Filipino—we love our family. Although each family has unique struggles, my family really experienced some hardships. Yet my parents still strived to give us a great life. Not wealthy, but a great life. And now that I’m earning and I have a decent job, I give back to my family.
One thing that people don’t know about you?
I hate cakes. I think that’s it. I don’t eat cake; I find it hard to swallow.
If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Ramen. I love ramen. It’s my comfort food. I can eat it three times a day.
Who is your celebrity crush?
Honestly, it takes me a while to find a crush. But I love Noah Beck. Do you know Noah Beck? He’s a TikTok star, he’s really different. Hello, Noah! Hello!
There’s also another TikToker named Dax Newman. His videos are so dreamy. He makes pots and he’s also the reason why I want to learn pottery. It’s so aesthetically pleasing, and Dax is so dreamy.
What’s the theme song of your life right now?
I bop to Dua Lipa a lot, her album “Future Nostalgia.” I super, super love that album but my favourite song from that album is “Don’t Start Now.”
What’s your advice to your teenage self?
I think, “Go and flirt more, Mimi!” It’s because, until now, I still haven’t experienced love or being in a relationship. But also, “Keep doing what you love, don’t let anyone hinder you from getting the things you want in life and keep persevering, keep inspiring. Be inspired always.”
One word to describe Mimi?
Hydrated. Yaas. Drink your water bitch!