Fans of Real Talk know Johnathan Chua as the most level-headed and down-to-earth host on the popular YouTube talk show, which is best known for tackling taboo topics such as smoking, pornography and relationship experiences.
“Everybody [on the show] is really wild, leading extraordinary lives,” said Mr Chua, referring to his co-hosts Jade Rasif, Dew Francis, Saffron Sharpe and Hashy Yusof, who often dish out their wild personal stories.
“I’m the only normal guy there,” said the 30-year-old, who was featured as a home-grown Youtuber, in an article published by Channel News Asia in January of 2020.
An Unforeseen Venture
As a business student who graduated from RMIT University in the Singapore Institution of Management campus, Mr Chua never expected to pursue a career in the media industry.
His venture started when he joined influencer marketing network Gushcloud as a business manager. He was then promoted to the position of business development director. Then, he joined a partner and started building a brand, Vulcan Post, together. The business, which produces articles and infographics for clients, was later renamed GRVTY Media.
Besides Vulcan Post, GRVTY Media now owns Millennials of Singapore/KL, Discover SG/KL and The Playbook as well.
Claim to Fame
Millennials of Singapore earned its big break in 2018 with the debut of Real Talk on YouTube, which courted attention with controversial topics on relationships, sexual harassment, unplanned pregnancy and cosmetic surgery to name a few.
Mr Chua shares that the idea for the show came about when he and fellow co-host, Dew Francis, were out for drinks one night. “Everytime we cracked a joke, we laughed, and the [people at the] table behind us also laughed, so we realised that they were listening to our rubbish the whole time,” he said.
This talk show blew up and gained a following especially among young Singaporeans. The channel now has close to 200,000 YouTube subscribers. Their most popular video, which shows the hosts trying Jade Rasif’s breast milk, has racked up 1.8 million views to date.
Despite its success, the series has come to a temporary halt at 42 episodes which Mr Chua explains is due to a need for re-evaluation of the creative direction.
Recalling the good times spent with his co-hosts, he describes the show as a “wild ride [that has] actually been very fun”.
The Perks of Fame
Mr Chua took a while to get used to his YouTube fame. “When you go out on the streets and people recognise you, they know something deeply personal about you, but you don’t know them at all.”
To him, the biggest perk that comes with fame is that he is now in a position to make a positive influence on others’ lives. Many of his viewers have organised themselves into a community. They trust each other enough to be vulnerable, to open up about their personal problems, and to support each other with encouraging messages and useful advice.
Like his fellow hosts on Real Talk, Mr Chua also receives direct messages on Instagram almost daily from viewers who want to seek guidance in areas like relationships. Some have asked him about his experience with circumcision as he’s shared about the procedure on his show. But he’s always careful with his replies, reminding viewers that he’s not a qualified medical practitioner, psychologist or counsellor.
A Heart For Employees
Being an entrepreneur is no easy feat. Mr Chua says it’s important that business owners like him put the interests of employees at the forefront.
“My driving motivation to build this company is that I can affect the lives of the people working in my company,” says Mr Chua.
Mr Chua has an Excel sheet which records each colleague’s milestones to ensure that they are well-taken care of.
Recalling how he was unable to save up for a wedding ring due to a previous job that didn’t pay enough, Mr Chua has been working hard to grow his company and his employees’ pay checks.
Although the suspension of Real Talk has saddened many fans, Mr Chua hinted that there will be a reboot, but with some changes.
Future episodes are likely to place a heavier emphasis on relatability of issues and topics rather than controversy.
“We are trying to retain as much of the flavours [Real Talk has] as possible, but this time, it’s less focused in terms of how wild our personal stories can be, and will have a stronger focus on relatability,” he said.
While he didn’t quite plan to join the media industry, Mr Chua knows he’s here to stay.
“Media will always be a part of my life, I can’t ever walk away from it.”
Edited By: Christel Yan
Proofread By: Hannah Fletcher