Instant Influencer: Why Ashley Deserved to Win James Charles’ Show

In the final episode of YouTube’s Instant Influencer, which premiered May 15, Ashley Strong was crowned the winner of the inaugural season and is now well on her way to becoming a highly popular beauty vlogger. In the battle for the title, the three remaining makeup artists – Denver-based Kailin Chase, 18-year-old Benny Cera, and eventual winner Ashley – were challenged to create the next trendsetting “viral” makeup look. Host, producer, and mega influencer James Charles judged the final challenge, alongside regular judge Norvina and special guest judge Mario Dedivanovic, who is Kim Kardshian’s makeup artist.


Beginning with the first episode, which launched on April 24, Ashley displayed her dominance, winning the opening compact challenge. Throughout the rest of the season of the reality competition series, the aspiring beauty influencer not only showed off her aesthetic, artistry and skills, but often came out on top during the various challenges, including winning the second episode’s drag challenge. Prior to Instant Influencer, whereas the rest of the contestants were truly micro-influencers and had only a few thousand followers, Ashley had over 145,000 Instagram followers and had already gone viral with multiple graphic eyeliner looks. While she was less expressive personality-wise than her counterparts, her consistency, hard work and experience over the others was evident and presumably an advantage. If there was anything negative to truly say about season one of Instant Influencer, it was that Ashley was the clear favorite from the very beginning and her win was predictable.

For the finale, Ashley crafted a look inspired by the fashion label Off White, known for its minimalism. Knowing that for a makeup look to go viral, it must be able to be copied by followers and fans, the Alaska native designed something that was not only visual, but also translatable for all skills levels. Her strategy and simplicity paid off, as the judges gave her glowing feedback, referring to it as “high-fashion,” “editorial,” and “easily replicable.” Whereas James favored Kailin’s concept and photograph, Norvina preferred Ashley. None of the judges were too impressed by Benny’s look. As the fist-ever winner, Ashley received a cash prize of $50,000, $10,000-worth of lighting and videography equipment, and the opportunity to do a video collaboration with James on his channel, which has over 19-million subscribers.

While Ashley dominated most of the challenges throughout the season, her personal journey to the top spot and her newfound fame wasn’t easy. During the season, she opened up about her teen pregnancy and her son. The single mom from Alaska became obsessed with art at a young age, as way to a stand out from her five siblings and earn her mother’s attention. Her passion for art morphed into makeup, and she then took to social media as a way to elevate her career and artistry to another level and give her and her son a better life. Following the success of the series, Ashley now has 480,000 YouTube subscribers and over 530,000 Instagram followers, so she is well on her way to that dream.

While Ashley is the winner of the competition, James proved to be the biggest winner of them all, as he not only got to realize his own dream of creating, producing, and hosting his own reality-competition series, but also, since the release of Instant Influencer, his own subscriber base increased by over a million. Moreover, with around 48million views across the four-episode season, it appears YouTube and James Charles might have another victory on their hands by having a season 2.

Source: YouTube/ James Charles

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About The Author

Ross Jefferies (14 Articles Published)

Ross Jefferies has always been obsessed with television and for the past 10 years, he has worked in various facets of reality television. Now, he can add reality TV journalist to the list. He is one of the few lucky people, who has been able to combine his passion and his job, so it never quite feels like work. He lives in Knoxville, TN, home to Scripps/Discovery and some of the most prolific reality TV production companies in the business.

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