Elara has always loved playing a supporting role for other shining stars. Her inspiration comes from a music production background, growing up attending metal concerts alongside her dad and seeing the show come to life.
She never really saw herself as playing the main act, though.
“I was really interested in the backgrounds of shows that people were doing, like behind the bands or all the cool lights and visuals,” she said.
“It was really cool just to be a part of the community of metal heads. Watching other shows and everything, just seeing people be entertainers, it really inspired me a lot. I love how people are on stage and I love the process of putting everything together, right?
“I really feel like that inspired me a lot and started my own content, just like I really love starting at the bottom and making everything and building it up myself.”
As she fell into video editing straight out of high school though, the cogs started to turn.
She got to tap into the creative production mindset from her concert watching days. Except the level of expression she had — the tools at her disposal — were a lot more accessible, and a lot more broad. She got to tell her own stories through her editing style.
“You get to take a raw source of video and create this beautiful narrative or story and add your own personal flair into it with your style of editing, the effects you like, things like that,” she explained.
“Once you're able to really put a project together, it's just like something you can't really do in a lot of places. It's a form of expression, like music right? It's just a different medium.”
And what’s the perfect culmination of that production background and the storytelling medium? VTubing.
Elara got into VTubing over the pandemic while locked down at home. As VTubers slowly took over the content creation space, she saw how she could come out from behind the camera and share a bit of herself with the audience without feeling too revealed.
“I remember I was watching so much Zentreya and other VTubers because VTubing was really starting to get really mainstream at that time. And I was like ‘I really love this. This is so cool. I really want to do this. I really feel like this is a really great form of expression for me.’
“The anonymity was another important part… because I had some really bad experiences in my past, people breaking personal boundaries. So it was perfect for me. Everything clicked.
“I had considered [streaming] right, it was just a scary notion to me. But I did get to the point where I did start to sit down and consider streaming myself. What pushed me over the ledge was watching VTubing, it was just so magical.”
So Elara, wanting to help others in their own journey through VTubing, documented her own growth. She was able to share some insights from production, video editing, and more, and translate them into VTubing.
However her extensive background only went so far. For most of the time, she was like a deer in headlights.
“It was great to edit because I got to understand how creators are on screen, how you create content in the first place, social media, understanding uploads to YouTube, following trends, things like that I think were very helpful.
“But as far as like the first time I got in front of the screen and started doing it, I had no idea what I was doing like that.
“[And] at that time there were not really any guides or any type of knowledge that people were willingly wanting to share with everybody. There were a lot of things that were gatekept.
“I saw that it was going on and I saw that there weren't a lot of explanations. And I was like ‘you know what? I'm going to do this myself.’ I'm going to take it upon myself and upload this content and give people some guides. Because if I'm lost, I know everybody else is lost too.”
Nevertheless, over time she built up the platform and audience, so much so that she got recognized for her efforts at the Small VTuber Awards, winning Most Helpful VTuber. It was nice validation for all her work after these couple of years, especially for her educational content.
“We all want to be acknowledged and we all kind of want that attention. But it feels a little bit better when you're doing it just to help people and people acknowledge that in return.”
Despite the awards, accolades, and rapid growth, Elara still is trying to grapple with the responsibilities that come with a bigger platform.
She does have a reputation for finding herself in controversy. Earlier in 2023, that included a lighting toggle combination showcasing a ‘blackface’ interpretation of her model. While she apologized and listened to the community, it also dawned on her the power of her platform.
“I felt like the most important thing that I find a lot of creators don't do that I wanted to do was just listen to what people were saying. If they had a concern about it or there was something that I could do, just taking the time to understand their side, right?
“And if I could make a small change to make that a little better, more comfortable, then I feel like it's my personal responsibility to do so.
“The bigger and higher you get up in the ladder, I think that you have more responsibility [over] what you're putting out into the world… I think now more than ever, I am a little bit more considerate about how my content is perceived by everybody.”
So, heading into the future with a redebut in the coming weeks, Elara is taking all these learnings on board. She’s being more true to herself with a design that more naturally fits. She’s trying to be honest and hold herself accountable for past misgivings, and using her larger platform to educate and inform.
However she will keep sharing her journey, blemishes and all. This doesn’t just serve as an education piece for aspiring VTubers. It’s also a reminder of how far she’s come, and the legacy she wants to leave for the future.
“I honestly tried really hard not to be myself, which is a huge mistake on my part. Over the past two years, I've really been more comfortable in coming out of my shell and portraying who I am and just being more honest to myself.
“I remember I was sitting in front of my VTuber model and it was in VTube Studio, and I was looking at things and I was like ‘I would love to put the same color hair that I have [IRL] on Elara.’ I'm very much goth.
“I tried it out on stream and it was like a light bulb went off.
“I'm really going to be embracing a lot more of that heavy metal kind of upbringing that I had. It isn’t really like a restart, but it’s being true to myself.”
Learn more about Elara's story on her Behind The Model episode.