Who Is Colleen Ballinger?
Colleen Ballinger uses smeared red lipstick, an altered voice and incredibly inept singing to create the egotistical and boundlessly confident character of Miranda Sings on YouTube. Since first appearing on the site in 2008, Ballinger's collection of videos has received more than a billion views and earned millions of subscribers. With Miranda, Ballinger also became a best-selling author, toured the globe, appeared on Netflix and received a Teen Choice Award in 2015. Throughout this success, Ballinger has continued to make YouTube videos as herself and as Miranda.
Early Life and Education
Colleen Mae Ballinger was born on November 21, 1986, in Santa Barbara, California. Ballinger grew up in Santa Barbara. For the 6th, 7th and 8th grades, she was homeschooled (Miranda is also homeschooled). Ballinger attended San Marcos High School before going on to Azusa Pacific University, which is a Christian college near Los Angeles.
Ballinger is very close to her family. Her parents, Tim and Gwen Ballinger, had four children: Christopher, Trent, Colleen and Rachel. Rachel used to tour with Ballinger, and Chris has worked on multiple projects with her. Chris and Rachel are also YouTubers. Ballinger's brother Trent isn't as interested in social media, though he did appear on Ballinger's YouTube to discuss getting cochlear implants (he was born hard of hearing, and this hearing loss worsened as he grew older).
Ballinger uploaded the first Miranda Sings video to YouTube in 2008. Inspiration for the character had come from fellow students at Azusa Pacific University, where Ballinger was a vocal performance major. She had classmates who were often rude as they waited for stardom to arrive. Some of these girls couldn't sing yet still uploaded videos to YouTube, so Ballinger decided to alter her voice and appearance in order to make her own videos as an inside joke for friends.
In Ballinger's videos, Miranda is an appalling performer and opinionated individual who believes her talent is destined to take over the world. The character's style features Crocs, fully buttoned shirts and lipstick that migrates far away from her lips. Ballinger has said that many of Miranda's traits developed in response to the comments on early videos, telling Elle in 2016, "I thought it was fascinating that someone who didn't know me would take the time to say hateful things about me. Whatever haters didn't like, I would do more of in the next video."
As Miranda's unflagging confidence and nonexistent talent were on display for the first year, Ballinger's regular life continued. She'd graduated in 2008 and had gigs that included a job at Disneyland, where she performed in High School Musical and Playhouse Disney. Then in 2009 a Miranda video called "free voice lesson" went viral. Ballinger soon became a successful YouTuber, part of a breed of performers whose fame — and earnings — come from YouTube.
Fans and Haters
Though Miranda has her detractors (some videos feature her reading mail from "haters"), she also has plenty of actual fans, who are known as "Mirfandas." Ballinger told The Verge in 2016, "I’ve received thousands of letters from kids who are a little different and a little weird, and they thank me for teaching them to be confident in who they are. That’s a great lesson Miranda teaches everyone."
Ballinger counts herself among Miranda's fans. In a 2014 interview, she declared, "I love Miranda. The only way I would leave her behind would be if my fans didn’t want to watch her anymore. Certainly, I enjoy working on other projects and ambitions, but I think the only way Miranda will ever die is if my fans force me to make her die."
Ballinger is able to sing, an ability that helps ensure Miranda never gets a song right. Miranda has caterwauled on the original number "Where My Baes At?" In addition, she's produced parodies for songs such as Beyoncé's "Single Ladies," Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" and Nicki Minaj's "Starships" (though some of her song covers have been removed from YouTube).
A recording of four holiday classics called "Christmas With Miranda Sings" came out in 2009.
Tours and Live Performances
When Miranda first took off, Ballinger got the opportunity to perform in New York City and London. Her live shows did well and she's since toured across the United States, as well as in places like Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
Ballinger has also been able to step on stage with Broadway stars like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Sutton Foster.In Ballinger's 2018 "No Offense" tour, she appeared as herself for half of the show, and as Miranda for the other half.
Selp-Helf (2015) is a collection of advice from Miranda that's co-written by Ballinger and her brother Chris. A Miranda diary — My Diarrhe — came out in 2018. Both books landed on the New York Times bestsellers list.
Ballinger and her brother Chris developed a television show to further explore Miranda and her background. The series — called Haters Back Off, a common Miranda phrase — was commissioned by Netflix, making Ballinger the first YouTuber with a scripted series. The eight episodes of the first season appeared on Netflix in October 2016; a second season followed in 2017. Netflix decided not to pick up the show for a third season.
Ballinger appeared on Netflix again in a Miranda Sings comedy special shot during her performance at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2018.
In 2014 Ballinger appeared as an angry, ranting Miranda on Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. She's also guest hosted The View and appeared on The Tonight Show.
In 2013 Ballinger was profiled on an episode MTV’s True Life. She later said, "I feel like an idiot for agreeing to it and thinking they would portray my life how it actually is."Ballinger was part of season 3 of the YouTube series Escape the Night in 2018.
Personal Life and Husband
Ballinger met fellow YouTuber Joshua Evans in 2009. After the two began dating, much of their relationship played out online, including a video they shared of their July 2015 wedding. When the couple decided to divorce a year later, Ballinger posted a video called "Life Update" to announce the decision to her fans. In it she explained that the couple's relationship had gone through difficulties and hurdles that hadn't been featured on-screen.
Erik Stocklin played friend and love interest Patrick on Haters Back Off. He and Ballinger were friends before their relationship shifted to a romantic one. They've also navigated social media differences, as Stocklin prefers more privacy.
In June 2018, Ballinger announced she was pregnant and that she and Stocklin were engaged. In July, a gender reveal video on her YouTube shared that they were expecting a boy. The pair married a few months later and welcomed their son in December 2018.
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