Nicola Foti: The Man With A Thousand Faces [YouTube NextUp Creator Profile Series]

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Nicola Foti is the man of many faces on his YouTube channel Soundly Awake.

His channel is both a collection of his vlogs documenting life’s comical moments and short skits featuring his eccentric characters. Starting on YouTube in 2008, Nicola has since gone on to create three other channels and 17 characters that he plays in his skit videos. There is Keisha, who is his favorite to play because she can say sassy things and get away with it, a guidette named Tina and Reggie the hipster, to name a few. Along with his channel Soundly Awake, Nicola also creates content for his channels Still Soundly Awake, which features video extras; Nicola Foti, which is a style and beauty channel; and Rule of Yum,”a cooking channel Nicola runs with his chef boyfriend. A man whose heart will always be in New Jersey, Nicola believes laughing can solve any problem and sees his YouTube videos as a chance to do just that for other people.

What is the story behind you starting your channel?

Nicola Foti: The first channel I started because a friend of mine was making video blogs and I didn’t realize that people did that. I was like, “Hey, I want to do that,” so it inspired me to start a channel of my own. From there, a year and a half later, I made Still Soundly Awake, where I put extra footage or like travel, vlogs, those types of videos. A year after that, I made a live channel “Nicola Foti” in which I do beauty and style. My boyfriend is in chef school so we have a channel together called “Rule of Yum“ where we make healthier versions of different types of food. Yeah, four channels — ridiculousness.

What is the meaning behind the name “Soundly Awake”?

I’ve been using that name for a lot of things for a long time, I think probably since high school. Essentially it is a play on words — I figure when you’re sleeping soundly, you don’t really get to experience the soundness because you’re asleep, so why not be soundly awake?

Do you have a favorite character of yours?

That is hard to say. I really like playing my character Keisha, ’cause she can get away with saying a lot of funny, mean things. But, I mean, I really like playing all of them.

What is something viewers wouldn’t guess about you from watching your videos?

Maybe that I am kind of OCD. A doctor has never told me that I have OCD, but I do like lining up pens on desks and other stuff. 

What would be your idea of the perfect date?

The first thing I thought of was a beach, so somewhere nice and warm and sandy. In New Jersey, that would have to be in the summer — so maybe at the beach — a boardwalk restaurant, outside with the ocean breeze.

When you came to L.A. and you told people you were from New Jersey, was there anything people kept asking or commenting about?

“Jersey Shore,” that was a common question. Then I guess some people expect me to sound like a guido. Luckily, I have a guido and guidette character so I can play those characters but, unfortunately, I am not a guido.

Anything you want to clear up about New Jersey for the rest of us?

Yeah, I love New Jersey! I mean it has a diverse landscape. There is the mountains, the beach, there are farms — it’s not just all dirty carnival rides at the Jersey Shore with Snooki. We are the Garden State, so I say keep that in mind.

Would you want to move to L.A. to continue working on YouTube or would you want to stay in New Jersey?

I mean I do love L.A. I think eventually I will probably end up there at least for some period of time, but my heart will always be in New Jersey.

How has the NextUp program been going?

Awesome. I’ve met so many awesome, talented people that are on YouTube. Between the first creator camp and the one we are about to have next week a lot of us have been keeping in touch. I think even after next week is over, we are going to make videos together and keep in contact. It’s just a really fun experience.

What are some things you’ve learned over your past five years on YouTube, and things you’ve also learned just being a part of the NextUp program?

I learned that people can be really mean when they feel like they have a veil of anonymity, and I learned that I kind of have to take that like water off a duck’s back. Sometimes it can catch you in a mood when you’re not feeling your best or your most confident, but you just have to ignore it. There are people who give constructive criticism, and definitely I listen to that, but if it’s just downright trolling then I try to ignore it.

In the beginning was it hard to not take those comments personally?

In the very, very beginning it was like, “Oh, that’s awesome, I have a hater comment,” but then, after a couple, they kind of stack up and I’m like, “Why are people saying this?” It kind of went in seasons, and you can’t help but still be bothered by it sometimes. But at least I know how to handle it now.

And you mentioned you and your boyfriend have a channel together and he’s been in some of your fashion videos as well. Is it ever hard to have your personal life online?

I can see if you’re in a relationship that is very public and you break up, then that would be an issue — hopefully that doesn’t happen. I know there is a risk involved in making things like that public, but in a different way I like that he is a part of this very big part of my life, and he is comfortable being in the videos and we have a lot of fun together, so I think it’s a good thing for us to have together.

What do you think subscribers can get from your channel that they won’t find anywhere else on YouTube?

They can get a lot of awkward word fails and just spins on things that happen to them often that they don’t necessarily think of as being something that happens to everyone.

What is a lesson you’ve gotten from being part of the NextUp program?

I think NextUp allowed us to collaborate with people who maybe we wouldn’t have normally collaborated with. People who have different types of channels that you don’t really think their content matches your content, and making new relationships with people that you wouldn’t have expected, I guess.

About the piece:

Out of YouTube’s thousands of creator channels, 30 promising creators are picked every season to participate in the YouTube NextUp Creator program — a sort of Hogwarts Academy for the very best of the YouTube best. They spend a week training at the YouTube Creator Space in Los Angeles, attending seminars, learning advanced filming techniques and interacting with some of the YouTube greats. In short, it’s a pretty cool honor. Since YouTube thinks they’re worthy, NMR thinks you should know about them.

So we’re featuring the Winter 2013 class of Nextup participants — 2 a day for the next 15 days. Learn about these fresh faces, love their content and then subscribe to their channels, because these are the next generation of YouTube innovators.

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