Social Media Week: KC Clark Talks Being @versatilenstyle
KC Clark is just like most 20-year-olds, plus or minus nearly a half-million followers. The Detroit native has garnered his own Instagram legion as @versatilenstyle, all of whom look to laugh at his renditions of everyday life. However, it may escape them that he is an everyday guy himself. He played sports in school. He got teased for being different. He made a lifelong best friend in his single mother. He has dreams. And now, his profile serves as crash course in becoming rich and famous before he actually makes it there. Clark’s social media popularity has made him an Instagram favorite to some, as well as a target of cyber hate to others. But it is all just a testament to how far he -- and the Internet -- has come. -- Iyana Robertson
VIBE: What was your first social media profile, and how corny was it?
It was so corny. It was MySpace. I used to have all the songs on my page. I used to have all the different backgrounds, Jordans, celebrities and stuff like that. It was super duper wack now that I think about it. And then you have your friends in that Top 10. If you wasn’t in that Top 10, you know you really wasn’t my friend like that.
Oh, things got serious over Top Friends.
It really did. It was like ‘Oh, I see where we stand.’ It was super corny.
You started off on Vine before you got really popular on Instagram. Did you go into it wanting to entertain?
I actually was a little late to Vine. I had just moved back home from Georgia, and my brother told me about Vine. He was like ‘Man, it’s so funny. You should look at it.’ So I looked at it and I instantly thought it was really funny. At the time, I didn’t really have no job, I didn’t have much to do, so out of boredom, I just started making Vines and people started thinking they were funny. Before this, I didn’t even know I was funny until I started making videos, because I wasn’t really trying to be funny.
So you weren’t the “funny guy.”
Yeah, it just happened. I didn’t go into thinking ‘Hey, I’m going to make funny videos, and I’m going to get people’s attention.’
And then it blew up once you went over to Instagram. Do you remember when you first started seeing your videos pop up everywhere?
Yeah, when Instagram first got videos, after a while they created this app called the RepostWhiz, and it lets you repost videos that people do. Once I started my reposts on other people’s pages, I was like ‘Oh my God, this is crazy.’
It is crazy. What were you thinking?
I was really excited because before, when I only had a couple of thousand followers, and I was doing videos, people would comment and tell me they were really funny. So I would go on celebrity pages and say, ‘Can you check out my videos? I think you might think they’re funny.’ Then they started posting my videos without me saying anything. People with tons of followers were reposting them, and then I would get tons of followers. I was just like ‘Oh man. This is dope. This is amazing.’
How hard is it to be funny in 15 seconds? It’s such a short amount of time. Does a lot of work go behind putting these things together?
It’s not as hard as people would think sometimes, but other times it is a little difficult. So it has it’s hard times and it’s times when it’s just like nothing. But basically, I just think of an idea and it just blows up from there. I just get my phone and get on Instagram. I’d do the video over like five, or maybe like 20 times over and over until I get the right video that I actually like.
Wait, 20 times?
Yeah, before I actually post it. I’d be like ‘Umm, maybe I should do that part over. Maybe I should do this part over. Ah, I messed up on this part.’ I don’t even write out my ideas or what I’m going to say. I just come up with the idea, like a concept, and then I just go from there.
And where do you get your ideas from? Is it just conversations with people?
I try to base my ideas off real-life situations, whether it’s something that happened to me, or something that I saw happen, or someone tells me a story and I just put my own little twist to it. So someone can tell me a story and I’d just be like ‘I can see that happening,’ and I’ll just recreate it in my videos. Or say I saw a girl act ratchet. I’d say, ‘Oh my God, I gotta do that in a video.’ And that’s where I get it from: life, basically.
A lot of people have criticized men who put on wigs and imitate females as a less-than-masculine way of generating a following. What do you think about that?
When I first started putting on wigs, I knew certain people wouldn’t like it. But I don’t really care. I’m totally far from a judgemental person, so if I wasn’t doing it and I saw someone else doing it, I would just be like ‘Hey, it’s funny’ if it made me laugh. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that that’s making him less of a man or anything. I just think whatever’s funny is funny. As far as how I feel about myself doing it, it’s just all in fun. I don’t think of it as making me less of a man, it’s just all about having fun to me. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I don’t just walk around the house in a wig all day. I just enjoy having fun. And obviously I’m doing something right.
Exactly. But what do you think it is about you and your videos that you followers love so much? Because there are other people who do it too.
I think I make myself more relatable than a lot of others do. No shade, or whatever. I just think I’m more relatable in my videos. I feel like when you see one of my videos, you’d be like ‘That happened to me,’ or ‘I saw that happen to this person.’ I think it’s just that I base my videos more off of reality, unless it’s a really strung-out story that I was being silly about. I’m just a regular person. Just because of Instagram, I don’t consider myself a celebrity per se. It’s just really Instagram.
Social media has given people a new way to chase their aspirations, though. There’s a new way to share your talents. Are there pros and cons to this?
I totally agree with you on that. Before Instagram or Vine, I was trying to do my dancing and i was trying to do my acting and it didn’t work out. So I was in the midst of chasing my dreams, and I feel like Instagram has given me a really great opportunity and a really great stepping stone to get a little bit closer to what I’ve been trying to do for a minute. But I think the pros and cons of it all is just that it is on the Internet, so there are some people who hide behind their keyboards and say mean and rude things, that’s the negative side of it all. The pro of if it all is the same thing, it’s the Internet. Anyone can see it, anyone can see your face. You don’t know who’s following you, you don’t know who’s liking your videos. You just never know. It’s exposure, but it’s exposure in a way that can bring hateful people to you.
How have you dealt with the negativity?
Oh, I’m the best person when it comes to ignoring stuff. I can ignore anything. I don’t even respond to people who comment stuff. I just block you and delete you, and that’s that. I’m not about to argue with you. Period, point blank. I don’t even bother at all.
You also have posted things about your reality being different from your videos. What misconceptions do you think people have about you?
Well, the biggest thing is, people think I’m a comedian when really I’m just an aspiring actor. People run up to me like, ‘Say something funny,’ and I’d have nothing to say but ‘Hi.’ [Laughs] So people just think I’m instantly hilarious, like as soon as I walk in a room I’m like ‘Knock, knock, here’s a joke.’ I’m really just a cool, laid-back, silly type of dude. I’m not really a comedian.
Is there ever a time when you just feel like this funny Instagram guy, and that people don’t really care about anything else?
Yeah, I do feel that way sometimes, like all they want is the videos. I don’t think nothing’s wrong with it, but I just think you also have to remember that I’m living my life just like you. You have things to do throughout the day, so sometimes I just don’t have enough time to make videos. And some people get annoyed by that. I could go three days without making a video and people would be like ‘Oh my God, you haven’t made a video.’
But there is another side to it too. You’ve shared your personal life on your page as well. Do you feel like you have a new, sort-of extended family?
I really do. When my grandma passed, she didn’t have any insurance, so she didn’t have any money to pay for the funeral or just to get things together. And I just immediately thought of Instagram. I was just like, ‘Hey, it would be nice if you guys could help me out.’ It made me feel really special when people were actually helping me out. Someone even donated like $500. And that was a blessing, it was truly amazing. That warmed my heart for me to be able to help out my grandma. It really meant a lot to me. I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.
What is your ultimate goal as an entertainer?
My ultimate goal, I’ve been saying it since I was little, I really wanted to be rich and famous more than anything. But to get to that point, I want to be an actor, and I also want to be a dancer. So maybe like on Broadway. And I’m also into fashion; I want to own my own clothing store one day. I want to be “the face” of something.
Listening to you talk about you dreams and knowing that something like Instagram can help you get there, is still insane to me.
It’s truly amazing. I was just having this conversation with my friend. Aaliyah was on the radio and I was just like, ‘Do you know how much of a better opportunity we have than they had back then?’ She became a singer and there was no Instagram, no YouTube, no nothing out back then. So she really had to grind, really had to work her butt off. Now in this day, we have YouTube and Instagram, people can see you from anywhere, all over the world. But back then, they didn’t even have that so I know they had to have been busting their ass trying to get somebody to see them. It’s amazing that we have these opportunities. We still have to work hard, but I don’t think we have to bust our ass as much as they had to bust their ass back in the day.