YouTube And Back Again: How Social Media Built Anjelah Johnson-Reyes’ Career

Photo Oct 22 2022, 9 29 04 PM
Photo by Christiaan Almazon

Back in 2007, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes was initially unaware of the fact her “nail salon” standup routine had been posted to YouTube. It wasn’t until a cousin of hers called to say she had received an email link to the video that her virality began to set in.

“That’s when things started blowing up like crazy on MySpace,” Anjelah Johnson-Reyes tells Pollstar. “I didn’t have an agent at the time, so nobody knew how to get ahold of me. There were all these network executives sending their assistants to MySpace to come find me.” 

Throughout the length of her career, social media continues to be an essential piece of Johnson-Reyes’ brand. Ryan Handelsman works as her social media manager, determining what sort of posts work best for the various platforms she utilizes including TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. 

“It’s just a matter of finding out how her content is best going to be served on that respective platform,” Handelsman tells Pollstar.

Johnson-Reyes has reached virality on all social media platforms, with TikTok showcasing her standup, Instagram providing a peek into her life behind the scenes, and Facebook showing longer-form content including five-minute videos and interviews. 

Her latest explosion was on TikTok. The team decided to chop up some of her standup bits from her previous hours, with new bits posted every Friday over the past three years. 

“Every Friday it seems to do better and better,” Handelsman says. “That truly has been the catalyst of growth.” 

YouTube still feels like a home of sorts to Johnson-Reyes. She credits the platform with launching her career and utterly changing her life. For her recent Ryman Auditorium special, no other streaming service felt right.

“It felt full circle to bring this special back to the platform that blew up my spot to begin with,” she says.