Of all the people on YouTube, very few have proven to be lightning rods for controversy like Jeffree Star.
After gaining notoriety on MySpace—in 2006, he was the most-followed person on the gone-but-not-forgotten social media platform—the influencer born Jeffrey Lynn Steininger Jr. made a brief foray into the music industry (believe it or not, a track on his first and only album, 2009’s “Lollipop Luxury,” features a verse from Nicki Minaj) before beginning his own cosmetics company in 2014, which he promoted to his many subscribers on YouTube. Four short years later, he was making $18 million from his YouTube endeavors along, according to Forbes, making him the fifth-highest paid star on the platform that year.
His rise to beauty mogul has been littered, however, with accusations of racist behavior, both past and present; accusations that he’s owned up to at times—”I don’t know who that person was,” he said in a video posted in 2017 as he attempted to contextualize video evidence of him using the n-word as a slur as the manifestations of anger and depression. “I know who I am today, but I do not know who that person was.”—and ignored at others. (When Nigerian-American beauty YouTuber Jackie Aina said in an open letter to Jeffree a year ago that she would no longer “excuse his blatantly racist behavior,” adding that “no one in the community should feel like they are protected enough to continuously say things to make black women feel ugly and ashamed in their own skin,” followed by his former hairstylist Daved Anthony Munoz releasing a video showing messages where Jeffree allegedly referred to Jackie as a “gorilla,” he remained conspicuously silent.)