The dynamic duo of Wassabi Productions, Alex and Roi, are the perfect definition of a bromance — so much so they recently made a video named “Broships” to document their daily lives. Yelling out the window of the bright red Mustang they had rented, the guys arrived at our interview with more energy than two squirrels who had just consumed six Rockstar drinks in a row. They were excited about everything: all the palm trees in Los Angeles, filming with Olga Kay and Lucas Cruikshank, getting to play with water guns in the park, not being on the East Coast, being interviewed by someone who shared the same name as Carly Rae Jepsen, missing school, and most of all, being in a town where YouTube was considered by others to be more than just a hobby.
Alex and Roi started filming videos together back in 2005 after they met in high school. While Wassabi Productions originally started off as a group venture between Roi and a bunch of his friends, it eventually boiled down to Alex and Roi, who now run the channel as a complementary duo that create weekly comedy and parody videos. With just under a million subscribers, Wassabi Productions is beloved by a loyal teen fanbase who constantly beg to see Alex without his shirt on in videos (If you ask me, the wild ride of puberty is to blame). After eight years of filming videos from their hometown in North Carolina, the dynamic duo are excited to begin the next leg of their journey by moving to Los Angeles to pursue a full-time YouTube career after Roi graduates from college next year. Sitting down after a water fight they had in the park, Alex and Roi shared with NMR their advice on classy crossdressing, what they look for in a girlfriend and why moving to Los Angeles is the best next step for their channel.
For the full interview in video format, go to the last page.
When you first met, what was your first impression of each other?
Roi: Oh, well he doesn’t remember me.
Alex: He’s ugly. Ew. Gross.
Roi: I was like, “Who is this dude?” ‘Cause I first met him at middle school; he was trying to do a magic trick. I guess he did that to everyone ‘cause he doesn’t remember me.
Alex: I didn’t. I met him in high school. He thinks we met in middle school.
Roi: We did meet.
Alex: Maybe in your dreams you were like, “Who is this magical man?”
Roi: I remember you were like, “Do this, do that. Okay do this.” I’m like, “Oh that’s magic.” [both laugh]
Alex: And then we moved the street next to each other and we’re Filipino, so all Filipinos know each other.
I didn’t know there was a large community of Filipinos in North Carolina.
Roi: There is not. Just a handful.
Alex: Kind of. I was in a Filipino league, and there was 10 teams and like 15 people in each team and their families always came so there was a lot of Filipinos.
Roi: But not compared to here. Everytime I go here I’m always surprised or shocked on the amount of Filipinos here.
Come on over to Irvine, you’ll love it. Thousands.
Roi: Irvine! Let’s go! That’s our future home.
Tell me a little bit about the story behind your channel.
Roi: I started making videos back in 6th grade just by myself. My parents had a camera they would never use. The name Wassabi came from the movie “Jackass.” Like Steve-O had this skit where he snorted wasabi up his nose; I was like, “That’s a cool word.” But at the time, I didn’t know it was spelled with one “s” so I spelled it with two, and then throughout time I started making videos with friends and I picked him up at the very end. and then eventually all my other friends left the group and he was the only who stayed!
Alex: Not because I wanted to; he said I had to.
Roi: No, ‘cause his magic. It is just magical.
Alex: Everybody dropped out and was like, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” and I was like, “I’ll help you Roi. Don’t worry.”
Roi: I was like, “Whew!”
Alex: And then eventually we started settling into our parts, our jobs in Wassabi, so I started writing a lot and he started editing, and then it just became our thing. That is what we do now: writer, editor. Funny, funny. Halfie, fully.
So together you guys are one and a half asian?
Roi and Alex: Yeah.
That is pretty beautiful. Do you guys ever switch roles? How did you kind of figure out which role you want to specifically do?
Alex: Editing and writing-wise? I don’t know how to edit. That is mostly why I’m the writer.
Roi: I’m like, “Okay, I’m editing. Just write a little thing, we’re good.”
Alex: I have no idea. I don’t like the computer stuff. When people talk to us, like other people interviewing us, or other YouTubers, like, “Oh, I use this and that and this,” and I just nod, let Roi talk. And when we are talking to other people about collabing and stuff, he just nods and I talk. I’m like, “Oh yeah, we should definitely do that!”
Roi: Sometimes I’ll let him edit the video to like learn.
Alex: Every once in a while.
Roi: I’m like, “Get it, get it!
Alex: I get stressed out real easy, so I’m just like, “Ah, five minutes.” I’m like, “Ah, that is enough for today.”
Roi: I got you.
Why do you guys think you work so well together?
Roi: I guess we complement each others’ not complements.
Alex: Yeah. Exactly.
Roi: We’re opposites.
Alex: We’re opposites but we’re similar. We’re similarly opposite. That makes sense.
Roi: We’re non-complementary complementary.
How do you complement each other?
Roi: I’m like, “You look nice today.”
Alex: And I’m like, “Oh, I like your hair.”
Roi: I like your writing today [laughs]. I’m the more patient, modest one.
Alex: And I’m the more, “Yo, I’m loud. Let’s make something happen.”
Roi: I’m like, “Oh okay, let’s give it time. It will happen.”
Alex: But if you do it fast, like fast fast, you can get more done.
Roi: But if you do it slow you can do it more efficiently.
Alex: Yeah, but then I would get frustrated with your patience.
Roi: But then I would be patient with your frustration.
Alex: And that’s how it works out! [both clap and cheer]
Roi, last time we talked to Alex, he was telling NMR that he helps you get ladies all the time. Do you have a rebuttal to this comment?
Roi: Me? What?
Alex: Now you’re a professional.
Roi: I get girls all the time. What are you talking about?
Alex: He does all the time.
Roi: There was this one time, this one time in high school where I was like “Hey give me some notes. I’ll do it.” And then we had like an hour session and just like, “Do this, do that, do this, do that, make sure you do this!” We even re-enacted the scenes.
Alex: [laughs] With no kissing though.
Roi: Here is the couch, this is what you want to do. Go here, go like that. Make sure you go like that [laughs].
Alex: Little tips.
Roi: That’s just one time, but with the ladies I’m good. I’m really nice.
Alex: He picked it up really quick.
Roi: After that one time I [makes satisfied noise].
Alex: When we go to the grocery store all the cashiers are always checking him out [Roi laughs].
Only grocery stores though.
Roi: I be like, “Yo, you checking me out? How much is it? 20 dollars? Okay!”
You’re just winking at everyone as you go by. They’re like, “Who is this guy?”
Alex: I showed him. I was like, “Do this because it adds like a sexual feel to everything [wiggles eyebrows].” He could say anything, “Hey you want to go grab some lunch [wiggles eyebrows]?” And he can do it too. Go say something.
Roi: You want to grab some lunch [wiggles eyebrows]?
That is tempting.
Alex: That is something you have to practice; that is muscle training.
Roi: It’s like I’m going to sleep [wiggles eyebrows at Alex]. I have to use the bathroom [wiggles eyebrows].
Alex: Number one or number two [wiggle eyebrows]? [Roi laughs]
So you guys just do this back and forth to each other?
Alex and Roi: Sometimes.
Roi: When we’re bored, like plane rides. Long plane rides.
Alex: When I’m in my room and he’s in his room, we Skype ‘cause you know we don’t have to get up and walk; that is boring.
What do you guys look for in a girl?
Roi: I like girls–
Alex: Named Carly.
Alex: I don’t like party girls that always like to go out to have fun. I like girls that can stay in and can light a candle, talk about our day, watch some Disney movies.
Alex: I just like candles. We don’t have to light a candle.
Alex: I like staying in. I’m not really a big party guy or drinker, even though that is apparently what I display, but I like girls that don’t know how pretty they are.
Roi: I like girls, genuine girls like, hey, they’re always satisfied with everything. I know there is going to be troubles here and there, but they are always just happy, oh hey. And if they’re sad, I’m there. I’ll be like, hey.
Alex: Aw, I’ll be your girl.
Alex: No? Okay, I’m just putting it out there.
Roi: Magic. But yeah, girls. If I see her I’ll know. That’s it. Good answer.
Alex: You should look around more [Roi laughs and looks around].
That is a playground. Do not look over there. Stop it.
Alex: Look at the library, my girl is in there.
Roi: Hey, what’s up girl! [yells across the street]
That’s an old man, but alright [group laughs]. Have you ever gotten a date from your YouTube videos?
Alex: No, I don’t like to. If I talk to a girl I’d rather her not know about that until later, because then they’re going to focus on that, and I’m like, “Crap.” If I meet them because of that, it’s even worse.
Roi: Maybe they’ll move past that, you know, and they’ll see you as a regular person.
Alex: Unless it’s like another YouTuber, that would be cool. Like somebody else that’s in entertainment, doesn’t have to be YouTube. Something so when I tell them or talk to them about stuff, like, “Oh, this happened, this happened,” they’ll know what I’m talking about; I don’t have to explain anything. That would be cool.
Roi: Same goes for me.
Alex: We meet some girls, like Melanie Iglesias, she’s adorable. Oh yeah, I mentioned her last time, and he did the same face like, “Oh, oh yeah.”
Has a girl ever threatened to break your group apart?
Alex: No. Oh, one time, we were like 14 and it was before Wassabi, and he had a girl, and then what did I do — did I kiss her?
Roi: I don’t know.
Alex: I don’t know. We were little. I don’t even remember what happened, but I don’t know. That is the only time.
Roi: I was mad at him for like a month and then–
Alex: We’re into different girls now though. Once we grew up, and yeah, right?
Roi: We’re good now; we worked things out. I mean, I don’t want to lose you first off [hugs Alex].
You two could be my favorite couple on YouTube.
Alex: We’re a couple? We prefer duo [laughs].
Would you be able to date someone the other one didn’t like?
Alex: I would have to really like her for that to continue if he didn’t like her.
Roi: We’ll work things out. Like I said, I don’t want to lose you [hugs Alex again].
What is something people wouldn’t guess about you from watching your videos?
Alex: I’m 6 feet. People are always surprised. They’re like, “You’re taller than I thought,” and that’s it. They’re always surprised I’m Asian; they always think I’m a white boy. They think I’m a white boy with a tan.
Roi: Some people don’t think I’m Rolanda.
Alex: Yeah, they don’t know we are Richard and Rolanda, ‘cause we’re not; they are other people. They are waiting in the car.
Just left them there and cracked the window?
Alex: They got each other to keep company.
Roi: Oh there she is, [yells] “Hey girl! What’s up? Rolanda what you doing?”
How did you originally come up with those two characters?
Roi: Oh wow, back in middle school — middle school was like the moment for me — I used to cross-dress for Halloween, and I guess it just stuck with me ‘cause I was so good at it in a good way.
Alex: Not a weird way. A normal cross-dressing middle school way.
Roi: Then I guess last year I woke up one morning, “Hm, I’m going to cross-dress for a video,” and then we made that “Call Me Maybe” video, and I was like, “Okay, what can make this girl a lot better?” I’m like, “Oh, a unibrow.” [laughs]
Alex: Then he wrote a song and he gave it to me, and I put my version in it. So we put the song together, and we’re making the video, and then at the end he’s like, “We should put another character in,” and I was like, “Alright, I guess I’ll figure out something.” I grabbed a Sharpie, I put a unibrow and a goatee and just grabbed a hat that was on the table and some clothes that were laying on my floor, and then I went downstairs, and he was like, “Okay, go!” and I was like, [does Richard impression] “I’m Richard” And he started laughing, and I was like, “Stop! How am I supposed to record if you keep laughing?” I was like, “Oh, I’m Richard,” and after ten times of that he was like, “Okay.” He pressed “record,” and he went upstairs so I could film it [laughs]. And then everybody liked it. It was one of the most fun videos we’ve filmed.
Roi: Yeah, definitely.
Do you have any advice about cross-dressing for other people looking to use this technique in their YouTube videos?
Roi: Don’t be ashamed of yourself of course. Just enjoy it. Have fun with it, and if you go out in public, don’t worry. Just be yourself. People are going to stare at you of course, but don’t worry, just be weird.
Alex: It’s because you’re beautiful, that’s why.
Roi: Yeah. If someone says anything, be like, [yells] “I hate you! Go away!” They will go away; they won’t talk to you. I mean, you won’t see them again, so be yourself, be happy, have fun.
Are there challenges to living and creating outside of the L.A. YouTube community?
Roi: No, it’s just normal. It feels normal, right?
Alex: We started filming eight years ago; we were filming as kids, and we kept going because people started liking it, and we found out that people on the other side of the country were making money from it, and we’re like, “What? We’ve been doing this for eight years — we’re not making money from it.” And now we are. But we went over here last year for the first time, and it was the first time we’d ever met another YouTuber. Ever. After doing it for seven years, never met another one, and we came here and were like, “Wow, they’re everywhere.”
Roi: Yesterday we filmed, we did a film shoot or whatever. And we had people shooting for us for the first time, like audio dudes and camera man, and I was like, woah! That’s never happened to us before, so yeah, that is the only difference is getting to work with other people.
Alex: And talking to people that knew what to do. They knew how to shoot, what angles, we didn’t have to like– our other friends are like waiters or normal students; they’re like, “What do I do?” I’m like, “Go over here. Zoom in. This is how you focus.” Everybody else here just knows. Is it you learn it in school in California? You learn how to zoom and focus?
Elementary school that’s what we learn. How to read, and filming for YouTube.
Alex: I knew it had to be something like that.
Do you think there are advantages to being a YouTuber outside of L.A.?
Roi: Different scenarios, setting. We have more trees, less palm trees of course.
Alex: We have a … nah, I want to move to L.A. I want to film here. It is fun being out but we want to be in for a little bit and see how that goes.
What are you most excited about in terms of moving to L.A.? Besides the palm trees.
Roi: Oh, I was going to say that.
Alex: I was going to say that too [laughs].
Roi: Something new. Something fresh.
Alex: I’m excited to be around other people that are trying to do the same thing we’re doing. Like other people that, even if they aren’t YouTubers they are entertainers, so everybody is very supportive over here. They’re like, “Wow, that is great. What else are you doing?” I’m like, “Oh, what are you doing?” Everybody’s talented, everybody has something, and it’s awesome.
Roi: Everyone connects in a way, you know what I’m saying?
Alex: In North Carolina everybody’s like, “What’s YouTuber? That’s a hobby.” No it’s not. They’re like, “Yeah, get out of the way.” My roommates won’t turn down the TV if I’m trying to film something because it’s like, “Ah come on, guys.” Yeah, but I don’t know. They walk around in the shoot.
Roi: I’m ready for the food here too.
Alex: Yeah! There is a lot to look forward too. We get to move in together; we don’t live together right now, but we will.
Are you excited for that?
Roi: The past couple days haven’t been bad. I’ve been with him for four days straight. I think we’re getting along pretty well of course.
Will you decorate your apartment together?
Alex: I don’t know.
Alex: I mean, we’re going to decorate, but it’s going to be more for YouTube. Everything we do is probably going to be like, “Oh, that would be cool for a background.”
Roi: I know. Decorate in a YouTube way. See, we complement each other!
Do you guys see YouTube as a stepping stone in your careers, or is it something you want to pursue full-time?
Alex: What do you think?
Roi: Yeah, I mean …
Alex: It’s a stepping stone?
Roi: I mean, I’ll do YouTube as long as I can. I mean, pretty sure there is going to be that time we get old. Nah! We good, YouTube forever.
Alex: I see it less of like a stepping stone and more of like a gateway door to go through. We can keep doing YouTube, and then we can do other stuff. Or strategy is to say yes to everything except for some things. We’re probably going to say no, but most things we’re going to say yes.
Roi: Okay. Yes.
Roi: You’re going to walk through the door with me?
Roi: Is it a door?
Alex: Something like that.
What are you guys working on in the next year?
Alex: Right now we have like eight videos planned out right now. We post every week on Wassabi Wednesday. So we’re doing that and we have Vidcon coming up, and that’s fun.
Roi: More parodies of course. There is going to be more concrete storyline with the whole Richard and Rolanda history, so you’ll see that.
Alex: We have other things we were told we’re not supposed to talk about at the moment. You’ll see. You’ll be like, “that’s what that silly guy was talking about.” I don’t know why people say we’re silly; I think we’re very mature.
Roi: Oh yeah, we’re really mature [laughs].
What would be the dream job that YouTube could lead you to?
Alex: Did you ever see “Wicked Tuna”? It is a TV show where they go out and they catch these hundred-pound tunas. I don’t want to do that, so what I want to do [laughs] is you know, like “Temple Run” — is that a job? Are there people that run around and jump over things and swing? Yeah?
Roi: I was going to do more of an “Angry Bird” thing, like what’s that thing? Slingshot!
Alex: If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.
Alex: [laughs] What is your “Angry Bird” face?
Roi: [makes bird screeching noise] It’s more like wheeeee.
Alex: Oh, that’s awesome.
Roi: Okay, I’m back.
If you guys had to agree on a matching tattoo between the two of you, what would you pick?
Alex: We talked about this before, but a small Wassabi tattoo. I wanted to get like a little “Wassabi” right here or like “Wassabi” right here, but he wanted to get “WASSABI.” I was like, “Woah! Really?”
Roi: Yeah, and I’ll have a couple stones and a gate and some wings.
Alex: That’s awesome.
Roi: It’s like stepping stones.
Alex: You should get my face on your body.
Roi: Oh yeah? Oh! That is how the name started though. You know Steve-O? He has the big face.
Alex: He has Wassabi?
Roi: No, he has his face on his back.
Alex: I want to be on your buttcheek, left one.
Roi: I want a tattoo of Carly Rae Jepsen.
Roi: Yeah, ‘cause she’s awesome.
What do you guys think people can get from your YouTube videos that they can’t get anywhere else on YouTube?
Alex: Alex and Roi [laughs].
Roi: No, just have fun.
Alex: Top of the line cross-dressing.
Roi: Extensive Sharpie makeup.
Roi: Sharpei, sorry.
Alex: Just awesomeness. Just funny silliness. Awesome parodies, skits for the ages, good times [shoots Roi in the face with squirt gun].
Alex: Oh, I didn’t know it was still loaded. I thought it was out! Did I get you?
Roi: That water, you get water from us. You hit me!
Alex: I’m sorry.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome as YouTube content creators?
Roi: Oh yeah, school work and YouTube work. That’s a lot. At least for me. How about for you?
Alex: Writing, ‘cause I mean like a lot of the times I can write something and I’m like, “Oh that is awesome,” but sometimes I’m stressing out, like the deadline is coming.
Roi: But I help you out sometimes.
Alex: It’s like 1 in the morning, and I have to have that script done by like 7 in the morning so we can film it, so I’m like, oh crap. Or like I’m nervous about a script and stress out a lot about that because I don’t want to let people down; I don’t want to let the fans down, the Wassabians.
When you’re not filming YouTube videos, what are you guys doing?
Roi: Oh just hang out. Bike, jump.
Alex: Deep …
Roi: Deep sea diving?
Alex: Deep massages — what is it called?
Roi: Oh yeah, we get massages a lot. We love massages.
Alex: I got a pedicure the other day.
Alex: We tried that threading, that eyebrow threading thing.
Alex: Yeah, it was alright. I never did it, [whispers] but I did it.
Roi: Apparently you’re supposed to put lotion on your eyebrows so they go a certain way? That is what the guy said.
Alex: Can you tell I got my eyebrows done?
Beautiful to both of you. Wonderful shape. Future plans we should know about?
Alex: We have some collabs coming up.
Roi: You’ll see! We have a lot in store for you guys: parodies, music, Rolanda Richard, some of this [starts dancing] and that.
Alex: And then yeah, we’re going to keep doing our thing, and hopefully people like it. I don’t know how to say things without giving them away. We have lots of stuff planned: more Richard Rolanda, more Alex and Roi and more YouTubers.
Follow Wassabi Productions:
Alex Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexWassabi
Roi Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoiWassabi
Photography by Daniel Nguyen