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 had earned an remarkable status within the Chinese gaming community. With his unique ethnic background (half-Belgian, half-Chinese), creative ideas and out-going personality, he had certainly made a name for himself. Pursuing what most parents wouldn’t consider a proper path in life, his hard work, determination and passion for what he’s doing led him down through the path that many wouldn’t dare to go near and he was able to come out with success.
I was given at the opportunity to interview Ceylan Le Compte so I sat down with Ceylan in a small café in the middle of a crowded mall, he got comfortable real soon, laying back on the couch with one hand on his knee and another balancing himself. After taking a large sip from his latte, I pressed down on the record button on my phone and we started our interview,
“What got you in to making videos initially?” When asked, Ceylan’s eyes sparked with passion, “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 use that free time 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, “Yo. I should check this out on YouTube, right?” So I checked this out on Youtube, and it is pretty fun, so I watched some more videos, I got in to a channel called Yogscast, I really like their channel, so I watched like a lot, everyday, just ten hours, watching their videos for two months. Finally after two months, I convinced my dad to buy me Minecraft, 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 like a lot and met some friends. And they all asked me if I had Skype, I do have Skype but I do not have a microphone, which is a sad thing. So the second 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. So I was thinking, what should I do with this microphone, and I started thinking about all the videos I watched everyday. And I’m like, maybe it’s cool if I make some videos. That’s how I started.”
“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. So two hundred people watching your first video is actually a lot. But at that time, no one commented. I just kept going, because it’s fun.” His said, taking another sip of his latte, adjusting himself on his seat to make himself comfortable and 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 is some part of me that thinks maybe I do it, and continuously do it for so long, I’ll just be like all the other cool people, cool YouTubers who does gaming videos for a living. Now that’s completely illogical at thirteen years old, but that just kept me going, that irrational force just kept me going everyday, making those videos.”
“Would you consider that to be your biggest motivation till this day?”
“Yes, that’s definitely my biggest motivation. To be able to make gaming videos and to be able to make money and to be able to make things out of my passion and to be able to make money off of my passion.That’s definitely my biggest motivation till this day.”
His Thirteen Year Old Self
“Actually I would say I want to learn from my thirteen year old self rather than giving advice to my thirteen year old self.” He surprises me with his answer.
“How so?” I asked, intrigued.
“Because, I had this high level of dedication and passion when I’m thirteen years old, that I never had again, even till this day. That was when I’m the most motivated, when there is not a lot of success. And it’s kind of hard to balance this, as soon as you have success, motivation just dies and that’s when it’s the most dangerous because if you don’t have motivation, you cannot keep being successful and when you’re not successful, you just want to be successful. What I’m trying to learn from my thirteen year old self is that to have that motivation again, not that I don’t have now, it’s just not as much as I had when I was thirteen, and that’s what I want to get back to. My motivation to do things are lessening as the years go by. One of the reason is that I have more stuff going on in life, especially when I started filming my videos, like some documentaries and several side projects I work on, and those kind of 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 and it’s because I love doing those, that I don’t have that much time doing my Youku stuff. The other reason is that, when I was thirteen years old. there is not a lot of things going on in my life, just a computer and me, nothing else. I can spend the whole day, sixteen hours everyday just grinding out videos, grinding out everything, watching tutorials, watching everything, just to be successful and now that I have school, I have a social life and everything else, it’s hard to focus on one thing, and that’s why my motivation is not like when I’m thirteen years old.”
“I quit school when I was fourteen years old. Okay, so when I was in ninth grade in Chinese local school, in their school system that’s the last year of middle school, so for the last year of middle school here, we have an exam called “Zhong-Kao” which is a pretty big test that you would have to take, which determines which high school you could go in. So, starting from ninth grade, I had a lot of homework at the Chinese local school, and that gave me a lot of pressure on my Youku channel because I cannot keep making those videos as often and I came to the conclusion is that if I want to continue my Youku stuff, if I want to continue with my passion, now is the time to those things, now is not the time to focus on my studies and to figure out my future based on my studies, now is the time to actually follow my passion, develop my channel and have a successful Youku channel so I can keep gaining subscribers and have a balanced life based on that channel, because I know that is a crucial time to do so. So, I went to talk to my parents to think of a solution, now of course my parents would not agree to quit school to do whatever that was on the internet, but after weeks of negotiation, they finally see my point and then they finally agreed for me to leave the school for a year, to earn enough money to go to an international school, which is where I am right now. The point of which to be in an international school is that I can have enough time while still maintaining my studies. International schools are very relaxing comparing to Chinese local schools, you can go home at three in the afternoon comparing to Chinese local school which is like five or six in the afternoon. And there’s less homework, so that’s what I decided to do, to quit school to be successful. ”
“What is a major controversy that you’ve been a part of? How has it affect you as a whole or your channel?”
“Well, there is 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 because he talks about how he is going to protect animals and the environment and everything, and he says that, while still eating meat. Me being a vegetarian at the time, was pretty edgy, so when he says he protects animals and still eats animals, I got pretty offended, as an edgy vegetarian.” He cracks a devilish grin, obviously proud of his edgy vegetarian status. “So I called him out in my videos that what he was doing was hypocritical, and people, of course, 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 of course with an immature move, no one should say that, no one should actually say that just because they disagree with someone or that you think they’re a hypocrite, but I don’t regret calling him out for that, being a part of the controversy actually toughens you as well, everyone just calls you out, everyone just says the mean stuff to you, and you kind of just have to take it, in your face and that kind of toughens you as a person as well.”
“Have you ever feel 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 to ask a boy, growing up under both western and eastern influences how a traditional Chinese online media would affect him.
“Right, have I ever felt censored making videos? Well no and yes, I know there is censorship and restrictions on the website of course, but I just never follow their rules.” He added, lightly. “So I never felt restricted, but of course there are certain consequences that comes with that. There’s a series I made called Happy Wheels, it’s a kind of gorey game, there is a lot of blood, but one of my most successful series as well, averaging in more than 100,000 view per video. One day, Youku just decided they don’t want these kind of videos anymore, so all my thirty episodes of Happy Wheels just got deleted, and all my revenue of those videos are lost. Definitely felt censored because of that. Also when Youku develop this new commenting system for the comment section, which basically they decided the top comment should be the comment that have the most character, the most words, so all of the top comments in my videos, became these spam comments. So, obviously, I made a video talking about that and it got deleted overnight with 20,000 views. That was when I felt the most censored on there, when I cannot talk about these stuff, and it’s kind of scary they can just delete a video because they don’t like it and when there is a real issue, instead, they just delete my videos.”
You Think You Know Him
“What’s something you wish more people knew about you?”
“I don’t wish anyone to know anything more about me. I just wish people to see what they see of me now, I don’t try to change how people think about me because if I just show who i am, there is no way to change about how they think of me, it is what it is. I’m not trying to make people think of me in a certain way, that’s just too tiring to live my life like that. There is always people who love me and there’s also going to be people who don’t. And that’s okay, they can just watch someone else, it doesn’t really bother me.”
Not The End
“What is your main goal in life?”
“My main goal in life is to make shit ton of money, that’s first. Then start a business, to help me make more shit ton of money, and then, the final step is to use those shit ton of money to make an impact in the world of however I want it to be.”
“What kind of impact do you have in mind?”
“I have no idea, probably make the world better, save Africa, save the kids, but first I would have to have the power, have the money to make those impact. You have to have power in the world to have certain impact, and to do that, is to gain wealth, or to gain power, it doesn’t matter, but first you have to gain those things to actually make the impact.”
Ceylan Le Compte isn’t that different from me and you. He’s a seventeen year old boy who has this burning passion for what he does, he speaks what’s on his mind, he does the things he thinks is right and the things he love. He knows that there comes times where 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, he made a leap to where most people would be scared to do so, he made a leap to pursue his passion, and that courage has led to places that thirteen year old him couldn’t imagine. Ceylan Le Compte, to some, are just a click away from them, but he is so much more than just a click.