In the era of “the influencer,” it seems like everyone is trying to make social media their career. But for a select few, it happens “by accident.”
Meet Bryce Xavier.
The 19-year-old TikTok sensation got a taste of social fame at just 13 years old, after innocently posting a singing video of Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’ to Instagram.
“It was basically the alternative of showing a friend,” Bryce tells me, explaining that he in no way expected for thousands, or, more specifically, 400,000 people to view it within the first couple of weeks.
“[I thought] I could just put it out on a social media platform where no one knew me. I had like four followers, one of them was my mom,” he laughs. “And it could just be a safe space to show a vulnerable side of myself.”
Turns out, that “vulnerable” side would catapult him into a career he never imagined for himself.
“From there, I was like, alright. I’ll bite. If people are liking these videos, why not keep making them?”
Fast forward six years, and he’s “still the same kid from Orange County,” he assures me. But, with a hit EP, capsule collection with The Phoenix Brand and 3.3 million TikTok followers, it’s safe to say his life is anything but ordinary.
ON HIS EP THAT'S TAKING TIKTOK BY STORM
In December, Bryce released his six-track EP, 'Beautifully Tragic,' taking listeners on a journey through some of the beautifully tragic things that happened to him over the past few years.
“Last summer, I lost my grandfather, who was a really big part of my life and music and inspiration. I feel this sort of weird guilt about moving on and being happy afterwards.”
This is something he struggles with a lot, he says– “that back and forth” feeling of knowing you lost someone you loved, and continuing on with life anyway.
“It’s sad because those people that are the reason I’m in this position, aren’t with me anymore, but it’s a really beautiful thing that because of them, I’m able to be here as well.”
The EP includes Bryce's latest hit ‘Romeo,’ giving fans an ultra intimate look into his life, putting his own “gay love story” with boyfriend Matthew Jacob at the center of it.
“My boyfriend’s family isn’t necessarily the most accepting of us,” he says, referring to the inspiration behind the single. “But we have something so special– we’ve been through a lot of obstacles. It was tragic what we had to deal with, but a beautiful outcome.”
ON BEAUTIFULLY TRAGIC FASHION
Bryce hopes his artistry shows in “everything I do,” and his recent endeavor, a capsule collection with plastic- and toxin-free clothing company The Phoenix Brand, gave him a new avenue for that.
“Design wise, we were able to actually dig deep into the reason why I write my music,” he says. “But for me to be able to release these pieces surrounded by [my fans] favorite songs, I feel like that’s the ‘best of both worlds.’”
The collaboration features a zip up top, Tshirt (cropped and regular) and bandana, all inspired by his music and, of course, all sustainable.
“We need to make sure we’re doing things that are good for the earth,” Bryce says. “If you are in the public eye and have millions of people looking at you, it is your responsibility.”
ON COMING OUT AND COMING INTO HIS OWN
In January 2021, Bryce came out as pansexual in an open-letter to his fans on Instagram, revealing that he “had the honor of falling in love with the best person,” Matthew. But the decision to go public wasn’t a seamless one.
“Politics, sexuality and religion were three things that I always didn’t specify online,” he shares. “I didn’t want to deal with the toxic environment of people always having to tear down something if you don’t agree with it.”
It was watching Matthew come out to his own family that would soon shift his whole mindset.
“I was just like, 'Wow this man is so strong to just be so vulnerable with people that meant so much to him. That was the moment where I was like- I’m definitely hiding part of myself because I’m scared of judgment, which is the exact same thing that I always tell my fans not to do. I’m being a hypocrite.”
From there, Bryce began posting more about his relationship, sharing sweet photos and videos with Matthew. And, of course, he released ‘Romeo,’ which became a “queer anthem” for 2021. The surprising part for the young artist was that through opening up about his own sexuality, he was inspiring so many others to do the same.
“A bunch of different people have come up to me and were like “Oh my god, I love ‘Romeo.’ Thank you for doing this for me.” I didn’t even realize that I was making an impact in our community.”
Now, he’s hoping to make a difference through new mediums. So what’s next?
“I really want to write a book this year, about all of the things I wish I knew when I started this at 13 years old. I wouldn’t change anything, but I might have done things a bit differently if I knew sooner, and it might have gotten me to a goal a bit faster– with career-life, personal-life, sexuality, self-discovery– I just want to give that to the next generation of people.”