Interview with Saffron Barker

Category: Press Pack Article

How are you feeling to be joining The Circle?

I'm really excited. I feel a bit nervous because I've never lived on my own before, I still live with my family. So it's going to be like such a strange experience, like not only am I not going to be in touch with everybody in the outside world, it's going to be the first time living alone. So I’m nervous and excited.


What is it about the theme of the show that sort of attracts you?

Well, my job is social media, so I spend my life on social media. So, to me, it's just like the perfect show to go on because hopefully I won't be too bad at it! If I am, that's slightly worrying! I mean, I met my best friend and my boyfriend on social media. So I feel like, hopefully, I will be liked on the show. Importantly, the show is for Stand Up To Cancer – it’s an amazing charity campaign so I always want to support them.’


You’ve decided to play the game as yourself, do you think people might think you’re faking it?

I think that would frustrate me so much because it's like how can you stress to someone that it's you, when you can't prove to them any other way? So yeah, I think that's going to be really quite frustrating if someone doesn't believe it's me. I have no idea who else is in it, but I feel like I'm probably going to be the youngest person in it. I feel like I might be the baby of the group, but I feel like that's a good thing. Some of the people on the show might not even know who I am, but maybe again, that's a good thing.


Seeing as social media is your job, do you think that you might be better at this game than other people?

Do you know what? Part of me thinks yes, but part of me thinks that people will expect me to be good at it. I'm really grateful that I'm playing myself because I think it's easier to get caught out of your playing somebody else. I've got all my followers online for being myself. So I feel like I must be doing something right. Fingers crossed I will be good at it. Although I have to confess, I’m not the best as replying! I clear my text messages each week because I get so many!


So you have no game plan whatsoever?

At the end of the day, I would want to only win the show for being myself. So hopefully that will come across, and I mean, hopefully my personality can show on a message - that's going to be the struggle, but then again, that is my job!


Is there any other celeb that could be on the show that you would be totally star struck by if you found out they were in the flat next door?

Do you know who I absolutely love? Phillip Schofield! If he was in the flat next door, I would be so excited. I’ve watched This Morning every day for the past three years. There are not many people I'd be star struck by other than probably Phil and Holly. I have actually met them before, and I think I did play it quite cool. And then the other person is Dwayne Johnson, but I highly doubt he's going to be in an apartment next door!


You're going to be filmed 24/7 in this flat. How are you feeling about that?

I mean the filming part doesn't bother me that much because I film my life anyways. However, normally I have control of it, the difference with this is I won’t. Also, and I'm not even kidding, I'm the messiest person. I don't really cook, partly because I'm really fussy as well, but I'm not used to looking after myself in a house. So, I'm slightly worried that they're filming me and I'm going to burn my dinner or something. That's what I'm embarrassed about. I can just feel it coming! Everyone will realise I’m not a domestic goddess!


Do you think you might forget that the cameras are there?

Yeah. I feel like day one, I'm going to be putting the full glam on, and then by day two, day three, I'll be completely myself, my hair in a messy bun, wake up looking rough, but at the end of the day, that's my life anyway. I'm just a normal girl.


Have you thought how are you going to entertain yourself while you're in there?

You know what? That is actually going to be the biggest struggle for me, genuinely, because I won't be bringing in a book. I think that's why I do what I do because I like social media. So there isn't really much that's going to keep me that entertained. I'm actually probably going to be driving everybody insane because I'm going to want to be talking to someone all the time. I'm always with someone. I don't really spend time alone. I do love working out though. I'll bring in my skipping rope and I'll probably just skip every hour, which is probably going to be really weird to some people, but that's something that I enjoy doing.


Do you think this will show a different side to you?

Yeah, I definitely think it will because I will forget that the cameras are there so I think people will get to see me for more who I am, not just the glammed-up version of myself, which is great. I love that, don't get me wrong, but I am just a normal girl. That's something I've always tried to show to my followers. I show all the highlights of my life, but I also want to show the normal things that happen to me, like when I first started out on YouTube, I started when I was in school and I filmed doing schoolwork, taking my GCSEs and getting my results. I think my followers grew from being relatable. And so hopefully that's something that people will see on the show.


What do your family and your boyfriend think of you doing this?

They're excited, to be honest, they love the show, so they're really excited for me to go on it. Do you know what? I'm more worried about not being able to talk to them than they are. They're like, "Oh, it's fine. You're going to be fine. We'll just speak to you when you get out.” And I'm like, "Yeah. I'm not going to be able to speak to you. Why is no one like really concerned about this?!”


When it comes to social media, do you think it’s a force for good or evil?

I definitely think more for good. There can be so many positives with social media if used in the right way. You can meet so many amazing people online from around the world. Like I said, I met my best friend and my boyfriend online, but also all my friends I've met when I've gone to America and travelled with work. The only way I can keep in contact with them easily is via social media. I think the thing that makes me the happiest and makes me love my job is when young girls come up to me and say, "I was feeling so down this week and I watched your video," and that, even if it's just 10 minutes of making someone laugh or smile, that's rewarding to me. And obviously social media is just great for entertainment and content. It think it also can be such a force for good. In April last year I started the YouTubers4NHSHeroes campaign where other YouTubers joined me in giving their ad sense earnings for 24-hours to NHS Together. You can raise a lot of funds and awareness for important causes on social media. Of course, there are negatives to social media - trolling of course is one of them. But there is much more awareness around the dangers and harms of trolling now and something the platforms are aware of.


How do you resist everybody wanting you to be perfect?

I think I just accept myself. With this show, I think one thing that I'm going to struggle with is if you send a message to someone, you could be like, "Yeah, I'm fine," but it can be interpreted in so many different ways. I think that's another thing that comes with social media, I might say something online and people take it a different way or take it how they want to take it, but I think that is something you just have to accept. I know myself that my positive responses far out way the negative - otherwise I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing.


Have you had any bad experiences with trolls?

Luckily, I haven't experienced trolling in a bad way. I obviously I get the odd negative comment, but I wouldn't really say I get trolled as such. That said, people can definitely hate on social media for no reason, that's just something I've been used to. I've been doing it for so many years. So unfortunately, that is something you just get used to and you have to reset.


Did it change at all around Strictly?

Negative comments? You know what? I genuinely thought that it would, but surprisingly, I didn’t. Despite a lot of the Strictly audience not being aware of me, or YouTube I got so much support from the viewers. Of course, not everyone will love you, or the dance, but that’s part of the fun I guess!


When you have had it, how do you deal with it?

I just ignore it, honestly. I personally think it's the best thing you can do because the response is what somebody wants. I mean, I've never would write a negative comment to somebody. I just don't have that within me. To me, it's just people hiding behind the computer screen or a camera and they're obviously so low in life that they just want a response. I think the best thing you can do is ignore it. It's not even the nasty stuff that I always want to respond to. It's things where people assume things about me, or like, "I heard she did this," and it's just not true at all. That's the more frustrating thing.


You met your boyfriend on social media. So do you have guys sliding into your DMs all the time?

I mean, I guess so but I don’t look or notice if I’m honest! I actually found my boyfriend before he found me, which I preferred because he didn't know who I was, which is just so much better. He’s great!


So you slid into his DMs?

Well actually, he slid into mine, but I followed him!


Have you had any weird messages?

I get the weirdest messages, it's actually crazy. Some marriage proposals! I’ve even had people with foot fetishes, that's the weirdest thing to me, like the amount I get in my DMs. I'm like, "This is so strange. I don't even have nice feet!”


Do you ever find yourself being obsessed by how many views or likes you've got on your Instagram?

I definitely would say there was a time in the past where I was like that. It's like, the more you grow, the more you want it, and that comes with anything. There was a point where I was kind of obsessive, looking at how many followers I would get per day, just because I knew that it would make me grow quicker, do better. But not so much anymore. I feel like the videos that I used to upload were trending things but now I do things that are more enjoyable for me. I feel like I'm actually more myself, I just do things that I really, really enjoy. I definitely don't check my numbers every day anymore and that’s a good thing.


Have you put boundaries in to make sure you don't get obsessed about it?

Yes, but that’s also because the people around me keep me really grounded. I know that I've been successful in what I do so anything else that happens is just a bonus.


What do you make of “cancel culture”?

I think that is absolutely awful. I can't stand it. I think it's the worst thing to come out of social media. To me, cancel culture is genuinely people that just want likes and retweets themselves and just want to jump on a bandwagon. So, I think it's awful. Normally my mindset is, "If in doubt, take it out," because if there's anything that can be taken the wrong way, I always have to think about it. I mean, it’s hard to have an opinion online anymore. I think that's definitely something that's changed. I can't even say I prefer red to yellow because someone's going to tell me that yellow is better. I think that's just something I just have to accept.


Does it feel like someone in the public eye can be one false move from being in serious trouble online?

You know what? It's just nowadays, people can love to hate. You've got any bit of success and they want to drag you down. It's such a shame. I think, also, a big part of that as well is someone will write something nasty but also, they don't actually think that person is going to see it.


Do you have a favourite platform?

I absolutely love YouTube as a platform. I think it's such a nice platform. They do so much for you, to help you out, and to stop anything like trolling and bullying.


Twitter is a much tougher platform to be on for the negative comments so I tend to use that much less.


Do you think YouTube is a safer space than Twitter?

Yeah. I think it's the safest out of all of them, to be honest. I think also because the things that people are uploading on YouTube is more relatable. I love Instagram, but I know that's more a filtered version of my life whereas YouTube is ‘I'll wake up, roll out of bed, and I'll film myself.’ You know, if I had young kids or if my young cousins wanted to social media, I would let them go on YouTube.


What's your ambition?

When I first started out on social media, I didn't actually realise it could be my job. I genuinely did it as a hobby, and that's something that I'm really grateful for. I never knew that I could make a living out of it so it genuinely came from the heart. I think over the years it's just grown more and more so I've kind of grown with it. At first, there was definitely no sort of plan at all. I just genuinely did it for fun. I wanted to entertain other people, but I think now it's something I want to keep up YouTube because I love and enjoy it, but also, I think my content will change as I get older. I think it has changed so much since when I first started out by the things I uploaded then to what I upload now. In terms of future ambitions – I love TV and Radio and would love to do more presenting and broadcasting. Appearing in a West End show as a performer is a huge dream for me – I have always performed, and sung, and been on stage, so that’s definitely on the list. I am so fortunate because with my job – so many new doors open, and I’m really excited by that and the future. I'm just going to roll with it.


Who would have thought when you started as a schoolgirl that you'd be on Strictly?

That is mental to me. I still think about that. It's crazy. A total dream come true, and such an amazing life-changing experience.


What's the dream presenting job?

I'd love to do a show like Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. A late-night entertainment show, that'd be pretty cool. They're the shows that I love watching.


It’s been a crazy 12 months, has your perspective on your life and career changed after what we’ve all been through?

I think it's honestly just made me appreciate the people that I have around me much more, not that I didn't appreciate them anyway, but I think it's really made me realise how close I am to my family, especially my grandparents. I'm so grateful that they have social media and both my grandparents who are nearly 80, have iPhones and they FaceTime me every day. If I couldn't FaceTime them, I would be so upset. So I think it makes me appreciate the time that I spend with people so much more. It’s of course also made me appreciate the amazing heroes of this Country, the NHS and our key workers. Also, in lockdown, I spent a lot of my time actually on myself, which isn't something I actually do that often because at the beginning of the year I had the Strictly tour and then pretty much straight after that I was away traveling for work, like nonstop. Then we went into lockdown. I was honestly just hotel hopping every single day. My life was a bit crazy. I spent no time on myself. So I spent lockdown actually working on myself, getting into a routine.


Are you into fitness?

Yeah. Fitness has become a huge thing in my life now, and I love it. I do weight training, but I get up at like 5am and I go outside with my PT and we pretty much do everything - weights, running, cardio, and circuit training. Then after that I go and swim in the sea, which is something I've been doing, which, honestly, I used to look at people that swim in the sea in the morning and think they're absolutely crazy and that would never be me, but here I am swimming in the sea every morning. So that's just my goal now, just to get really fit and strong. I gained so much weight before the beginning of lockdown because I was just here, there, and everywhere, grabbing anything I could, just not really taking any time on myself. That definitely got me down but I think with what's happened in the world, it just made me look at it a little bit differently. I didn't work out to lose weight, which is what I've always tried to do. I worked out because, genuinely, I realized that I had such a love of fitness that I actually just wanted to get really strong and be able to run this amount in this time and all of that's kind of come with it.


It sounds like it's really had a big impact on your mental health?

Yeah, definitely. That's the biggest impact it's had. That's a huge thing I'm trying to share and trying to make people aware that, actually, if you don't just focus on losing weight and you actually focus on getting stronger and getting fitter, you'll see results that way. I'm not a fitness guru, but I can show you that this is where I was and here I am now. One day it would be cool to have my own sports brand.