University of Central Florida alumnus Tony Whatley II is making a name for himself on YouTube under the name Black Critic Guy.
Whatley majored in interpersonal organizational communications and graduated in 2015. He began his YouTube career when his first video was published in mid-2009.
“I just did it on the fly," he said. "I did it because I’m like, ‘I’m bored.’”
In 2010, Whatley started posting anime reviews as the “Black Anime Guy.” He planned on keeping them to one topic, but his purview soon grew after seeing “Clash of the Titans.” From this, he launched the “BlackCriticGuy” channel in 2013.
He says his username was unintentional.
"I just thought it sounded cool and had a nice flow to it," Whatley said. "I intended to change it, but the name sort of stuck."
While he started doing reviews in 2010, he adopted a more curated personality two years later.
“The style that you see now - I started it in 2012,” he said. “That’s when I started taking YouTube seriously.”
His channel has over 66,000 subscribers, but he wants to use YouTube as a springboard into film.
“My main goal is to move to Cali," he said. "I feel like within five years, I’ll be at a spot on YouTube where I feel like I’m big enough and comfortable enough to finally expand to new horizons and try different things.”
One of his goals involves voice acting, but he will keep doing reviews as long as people want him to.
“I would like my YouTube channel to at least have over 300,000 subs and be widely regarded as a trustworthy site for anime and movie reviews,” he said.
Whatley prides himself on delving deep into his reviews. His videos are on the longer side, and they often include emotion in the form of passionate rants. While he films both anime and movie reviews, he prefers the anime reviews slightly more for the creativity they inspire.
Despite his love for the camera, he faces a problem common to other YouTubers.
“I get hit with ID claims almost on a daily basis. I get a new copyright claim every single day, and most of them aren’t even valid,” he said. “They’re on videos that have only pictures in them.”
YouTubers often have their videos flagged by fraudulent organizations as a way to capitalize on advertisement revenue they earned.
Whatley says persistence helped him gain popularity.
“One of the things I think helped for my success is to stay constant and to be very inclusive,” he said.
He stays involved with his subscribers. He takes feedback from them and often creates the videos they ask for. He said that content creators need to just have fun with YouTube.
Matthew Meléndez, Whatley’s roommate, met him during his sophomore year at UCF and often participates in his videos.
“If Tony is not at work, he is working on his videos, whether that be watching the anime he is reviewing, going to the movies to watch the next movie he is reviewing, recording videos, editing videos, researching videos," Meléndez said. "You can definitely tell this is his passion.”
Meléndez assured that Whatley's charisma extends far beyond the screen.
“He definitely knows how to work a room, but what I enjoy most is that he is genuine to himself,” he said. “What he gives off to you is what he is.”
Whatley mentions that being a creator on YouTube isn’t always easy. He tells those who feel dissatisfied with their work to constantly one-up themselves.
“As long as you keep challenging yourself, you’ll always love what you do,” he said.
Story originally published on June 26, 2016.