Social media influencer and makeup guru Bretman Rock has captivated the attention of millions of fans on YouTube with his colorful personality (and vocabulary), iconically “beat faces,” hilarious food challenges and unapologetic authenticity. Now, after mastering the world of viral digital content, he is on to his next big thing: his very own reality show on MTV.
“I wanted to share my life,” Rock said of his decision to star in “Following: Bretman Rock,” which premiered Monday. “I wanted to share literally where I come from and where I’m going.”
In an interview with NBC News’ Snapchat show, “Stay Tuned,” he said the first challenge was figuring out filming and production in the middle of a pandemic.
“It was definitely hard, because obviously there's so many regulations, especially like living in Hawaii,” Rock said. “We had to get tested every day … my nose doesn't even belong to me anymore.”
He said the bigger goal in taking his talents to MTV was to provide representation — something he lacked growing up.
“I didn't really see anyone like me on TV,” he said. “I literally don't even remember seeing any, like, gay Filipinos on TV until I started watching ‘Drag Race’ and saw Manila [Luzon], and I was like, ‘Oh, my God! you look like me.’”
Rock added the immigrant experience is something he wants to emphasize on his show. In the first episode, he talks to his tearful mother over dinner about her challenges bringing her family from the Philippines to Hawaii.
“I know I'm not the only kid that moved to America and had to live with 30 cousins in one house,” he said. “I kind of just wanted to be like Manila and represent ... other immigrant kids coming to America with nothing but a dream.”
And when it comes to representation, he said, it was important for him to make the show as queer as he is.
“I have six friends, and four of them are gay and two of them are two girls. So I honestly just grew up with, like, gay people, and like I grew up with my family [being] so accepting of gays,” he said. “It was very important to make the show gay as f---, period.”
He said his family’s support of his sexuality and expression made all the difference growing up.
“I'm just so blessed to have my family, to be honest, because I really would not be Bretman Rock without that and their support, and they've always been supportive of me.” he said.
The new show will give fans and viewers insight into Rock’s personal life, unpacking everything from his family drama to his daily life in Hawaii, which he said was important for him to set as the backdrop of the show’s first season.
“There are so many reality shows, but there's none that really shows the island life and what influencers are in the islands. We don't have the same resources as people in L.A. do,” he said. “I think that's what was really important: to capture what my life is, what an influencer’s life is in Hawaii.”
But most importantly, he said, he has just one goal for young people watching his show.
“I just hope that people can see themselves in me, and that's really all I could wish for,” he said.
Six episodes of “Following: Bretman Rock” airs Mondays at 4 p.m. ET on MTV YouTube.