“Do you guys remember when I used to film this on my laptop,” Hannah Hart of My Drunk Kitchen fame asks her YouTube audience of over 4 million subscribers in one of her more recent YouTube videos, “Eggnog? Egg not!”
For those who don’t remember, it’s been over five years since the first episode of My Drunk Kitchen aired in March, 2011. Where a brunette, baby-faced Hannah advised strangers on the internet how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. The video was made as a joke at the request of a friend. It went viral. The hook: she downed a bottle of wine in the process, during which she realized she didn’t have any cheese.
What Hannah did have were jokes and a whole lot of heart. A silliness and a face that twinkled with a kind of friendly familiarity that the internet needed. People have always bonded over laughter. Hannah became a reason to smile, even though her own life had given her plenty of reasons not to. She never could have imagined that YouTube would be the platform that launched her career and there were dark times in her life. “I called a suicide hotline and the response was so scripted it made me laugh and I kind of just snapped out of it… I was grateful the hotline was there for me, even though the way it saved me may have not been the most conventional.”
In 2014, Hannah released her parody cookbook, My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut. It was a New York Times best-seller for five weeks.
In her new memoir, Buffering, released fall 2016, Hannah candidly shares the reality of her upbringing. Heartbreaking and empowering she touches on dealing her sexuality, faith, self-esteem, as well as the struggles of having a schizophrenic mother. In many ways it is a departure from intoxicated, charismatic YouTuber, but it was a journey she needed to take.
“I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned in case they were able to help another,” Hannah shares. “Also, I want to start a dialogue about the gaping holes in our mental health system that leave non-violent people who are mentally ill with no options outside of homelessness.”
In other ways, it’s a natural evolution. She's still sharing, still gathering people, this time in front of pages, instead of a screen. In the book she writes, “I fought against my truth in every move, shadowboxing myself and my subconscious, ducking and swinging.”
Today, she’s coming out swinging. “She [Hannah's mom] sang us a song about 'never giving up' when we were little. I think that's great advice for people who stop themselves from moving forward in their lives.” And Hannah is moving. She doesn’t know where her career will go, but is trying to stay present and pay attention to the changing media landscape.
As an advocate for LGBTQ rights and those of mentally disabled community, when asked why now was the right time to share this truth with the world, Hannah says, “I was more afraid of becoming something I'm not. I'm very glad to see that people were willing to accept me as I am.”
Looking to the future, Hannah says she wants to start a foundation to educate people about mental illness as well as teaches family members strategies for communication around mental health. “I am rooting for everyone to find contentment in life,” says Hannah. “This involves making room for others to do so as well, not just ourselves.”
What Hannah will have room for in this upcoming year is unclear. With the book and a new six-episode culinary-travelogue series on the Food Network that will incorporate digital and social content, 2017 is gonna have a whole lotta Hart.