MANILA, Philippines — If you had to name one person who fits this description — a social media “It” girl, a “best-dressed” influencer and an OG content creator — that’s Bella Racelis.
At the age of 14, Bella delved into content creation by putting up her own YouTube channel under the moniker, ThatsBella. She has since accumulated nearly 2 million subscribers on the video-sharing platform, while expanding her presence on other social media sites, including TikTok where she has 10.9M likes and almost 500K followers, as of writing.
Now 21, Bella is on the cusp of an important transition, moving from student to young adult with plans to step up her content creation game.
Scheduled to graduate from De La Salle University (DLSU) this December with a Business Management degree, Bella shared what to expect in the next chapter of her life.
“Sa ngayon po, it’s very hard for me to balance vlogging (and schooling), and I feel like TikTok is the main thing now. It’s hard to keep up with everything so right now, I’m focused more on TikTok, but I try my best to still upload on YouTube,” she told The Philippine STAR in an exclusive chat.
“Before kasi, I would always upload once a week, and now it’s once a month. That’s one of the things I wanna work on once I graduate, which is to have a weekly schedule again and create better content on YouTube and focus more on adulting since now, people would watch me for my school vlogs.
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“And I wanna explore some business things in the future… We’re planning on something, but yeah… I just wanna share how I transition from being a student vlogger to an adult.”
Is venturing into showbiz part of her future plans, given that she’s being managed by Kreativden (the talent management behind the careers of Richard Yap, Angeline Quinto, Christian Bables, Jennica Garcia, among others)?
“No but I was given some opportunities to join showbiz. I never really thought about it because so far po, I’m really enjoying the industry I’m in,” she said.
“What’s stopping me (from entertaining showbiz) is that I’m a student vlogger po. As much as possible, I want to finish my studies before I do anything else.
“And I still want to grow more in this industry because I feel like ‘di ko pa po (na-reach) full potential ko when it comes to content creation,” added Bella, who pursued a business course due to her parents’ influence.
She had never thought she’d last eight years (so far!) in the digital sphere. Inspired by her YouTube idol, the American vlogger Bethany Mota, her first videos would be simple challenges with her siblings and were initially kept a secret from her parents. With the likes of popular YouTuber Wil Dasovich describing her as the “cutest child vlogger ever,” her content would evolve to include access to showbiz personalities at a time celebs having their own YouTube channel and other platforms wasn’t the norm.
Looking back, she shared, “Actually, before ThatsBella, I had a channel with my elementary friends, and we just did it for fun. But I decided to start my own channel because I really wanted to be active on posting since I was a fan of international YouTubers.
“During that time, there were no really like Filipino YouTubers. There were only a few. So, yes, na-inspire po ako ng idols ko abroad to start my own, and especially that I’m a really shy person. I think that serves as an outlet for me to express who I am.”
She realized she was already making an impact and gaining a sizable following when she attended a YouTube fanfest as a main stage performer and no longer as an audience member.
Sharing lessons about content creation over the years, Bella said it’s essential to find one’s niche. “When I was starting, I was still kind of lost because I didn’t really know what kind of content I wanted to do. I explored fashion, beauty and challenges. Before, I was doing more challenges because that was the trend,” she recalled.
“But I realized I really enjoy making lifestyle, beauty, and fashion content,” added Bella, who made it to Preview’s Best Dressed List for 2023, alongside James Reid and Pia Wurtzbach, and eight other Filipino fashion influencers.
“It takes time for you to discover what you’re passionate about, but that’s one of the things that you should always focus on because that will keep you going. Especially since I’ve been in the industry for eight years now, it’s really important to enjoy what I’m doing.”
She also learned to “use your platform well.”
“Actually before, most of my audience were kids, like mommies and mga bata po talaga. So I really wanted to use my platform to inspire my viewers. I’m also a student and I have a lot of student viewers. I try my best to share my story about how I balance everything,” she stressed.
“And it’s really important to maintain my social media accounts as a safe space for everyone, including me. I’m all about protecting my peace. With everything that I was able to go through, like sa mga haters and all, that’s when I learned it’s important to protect my peace.
“That’s also the reason why I don’t share most of my life on social media. Because it’s so easy for everyone to have an opinion about what you’re doing or what you’re showing online.
“As much as possible, I don’t really give so much attention to haters because it’s not worth my time. They don’t really add value to my life. I wanna focus on the positive people that help me and that inspire me to be better every day.”
Asked how much of herself is shared online, she said it’s around 70 percent. “But I think that’s also one of the things that I wanna work on once I graduate. Like, I wanna express more, I wanna share more of my life as well.”
When it came to her personal life, Bella acknowledged the growing interest in her dating life.
Reflecting on this, she shared, “It’s also overwhelming because, like growing up, I started very young, so my audience is also young. And my love life wasn’t there. It wasn’t really a topic that would be talked about before. Despite everything, yun nga po, I’m all about protecting my peace, and I hope it stays that way.”
However, when asked about her ideal guy, Bella remarked, “My preference in men changes as I age po kasi. So, I think No. 1 for me would be good upbringing. Like, his values should match mine talaga. And I like someone who will love me and respect me. Well, not only me but also my family, of course. Dapat marunong po siyang makisama sa pamilya ko, and that’s one non-negotiable.”
She further expressed, “I like someone with substance and someone who I can talk to about almost everything and learn from him as well. And of course, I like someone who’s sweet, responsible, hardworking, faithful, and caring.”
Showbiz or non-showbiz? “Non-showbiz na,” Bella quipped.
What if someone from showbiz ticks off all the boxes? She said, “Let’s see (laughs). I’m not really closing doors po talaga. Like, I believe the right man will come at the right time.”
If there are any big lessons on love she wishes to share with her followers, these are: “Know your worth and never settle for less, especially when respect is no longer being served in the relationship. And when I feel like the love isn’t being reciprocated in the same way.”
She continued, “And love is a choice and a commitment. I believe one should be faithful and fully committed to giving out genuine and healthy love.”
Bella is grateful to have family, especially parents who have been her No. 1 supporters since the onset of her digital journey. They’re also the first ones she would turn to for guidance on matters of the heart.
“What I mentioned earlier, as in I always hear it from my parents. They’re very helpful when it comes to guiding me sa mga decisions ko po in life, especially in love because, of course, they wouldn’t want their daughter to be with the wrong guy,” she concluded.