James Charles’ Instant Influencer: An Instant Success?

In beauty/filming rooms and on laptops all over the world, there are thousands of beauty enthusiasts, amateur make up artists, bloggers and wannabe influencers, making videos, writing blogs, posting on social media and trying to get their talents noticed in the hugely populated and popular community that is beauty!

James Charles has tapped into this potential talent and the popularity of beauty, makeup and artistry to create a new show – Instant Influencer. The premise is to entertain us beauty addicts whilst ultimately spring-boarding one lucky contestant into the ring light of beauty guru fame.

So, yeah, to those of us who love all things beauty, the show’s blueprint does sound tempting, right, BUT

Is Instant Influencer worth watching?

Is James Charles' Instant Influencer show worth watching?
James Charles Instant Influencer: YASS or PASS?
Image: YouTube Originals

Much of the reaction to Instant Influencer so far has a very (understandable) stars and stripes flavour, and although that’s all entertaining and informative, there’s room on the menu for a typically British response – enter Entirely Beauty!

Who is James Charles?

Before we get into the show, and despite the HUGE following (aka Sisterhood) he has, there may be some who aren’t familiar, so here’s a sister-salient sum up: James Charles is a fast-talking, artistically talented, cute, Morphe-collabing, brand-Charles-promoting, drama magnet of epic proportions, boldly business savvy, YouTube, Social Media and generally famous beauty guru!

Phew! (Insert pause for breath here)

And now the first and second eps of Instant Influencer have aired James Charles can add Show Host, Judge and Exec Producer to his already ‘impressive-for-a-twenty-year-old’ resumé too!

Instant Influencer: An Introductory Insight

Six months ago, when James first announced plans for his new show he boldly stated that he was going to:

“…take beauty content and blow it up to a place that has never been done before.”

James Charles – YouTubeCasting Call‘ (Nov 2019)

In this typically enthusiastic upload, James added that he’d initially had the idea three years ago, then sat on it as it was such a big project. He also excitedly told his sisterhood subscribers how to enter, how to ‘vote’ for their faves and divulged the show’s format.

My initial thoughts on hearing the show’s format was that Instant Influencer sounded very (very) similar to the BBC Three’s Glow Up series that first aired, here in Britain, in March 2019. (If you missed it, it’s available on the BBC’s i-player and would make for a great lockdown binge! A second series of Glow Up is due later this year)

In a similar fashion to Glow Up, Instant Influencer is a reality/competition combo in which contestants take part in various makeup related tasks and challenges designed to showcase their individual personalities and artistry to a, hopefully, captivated viewing audience, whilst being mentored, judged and critiqued by the host and experts. In Instant Influencer that’s James, assistant judge Claudia ‘Norvina‘ Soare (of Anastasia Beverly Hills fame) and the weekly guest judges – spots that have, so far, been filled, by TV reality star Paris Hilton and drag queen Trixie Mattel.

Produced by Brian Graden Media for YouTube, Instant Influencer has a Glow Up x Next Top Model x RuPaul’s Drag Race kinda vibe. It’s a four parter and we’re in two deep: You can catch these first two episodes, The Competition Begins and Click & Drag, plus the two remaining eps (streaming on Fri 8th and Fri 15th at 8pm BST) on James Charles YouTube channel.

From the thousands of video entries, six contestants were chosen to appear and compete on the show. The winner will get to film a collab video with James, receive filming equipment worth $10,000 and the grand prize of $50,000! Not to mention a scale of both social media and general exposure that a mortal beauty blogger like myself can hardly imagine. 😉 So, the prizes aint too shabby!

Instant Influencer – Series One: Episode Two – Click and Drag with James and guest judge Trixie Mattel

In true game show stylee, let’s meet the real stars of Instant Influencer – the contestants!

Britany was the first to be eliminated, however, I don’t think that was as much due to a lack of talent as it was sad, personal circumstance! In a video on Britany’s YT channel she explains that she had to leave her ill Nana in hospital, to head to LA to take part in the show. Tragically her Nana passed away the day before Britany’s return.

Christian aka Indigo, is super talented, very entertaining to watch, on the show AND his YT channel, and has a fantastic personality! *SPOILER ALERT* I honestly thought he’d win! Episode two’s Drag Challenge proved to be too tough a call though, and he was sent home. Those brows weren’t related, they were way too high on his forehead, BUT, this blogger is now a fan!

Single mum, Ashley had the largest following of all the contestants before the show and her stats continue to rise! Hardly surprising given her artistry and flair! Ashley won both Episode’s tasks and episode two’s main challenge. I totally love the content on her YT channel and she’s now my tip for the top spot. Her Avatar take on the Drag Queen challenge was both inspired and out of this world.

Gabriel, aka Gabriel Dreams, has the beauty skills, a fab personality, is the undisputed queen of the pout and an avocate of the pop and snap. I’ve spent time on Gabriel’s YT Channel, the poppin n snappin grates after a while but his content is good and on the show Gabriel’s fun to watch. Not my favourite contestant, but he’s got talent.

Kailin is the lovable, girl- next-door of Instant Influencer. She has the (self-confessed) gift of the gab, skill set and vision that should keep her in the competition and see her crowned ‘runner up’. Her YT Channel content confirms she’s at home in front of the camera, her personality shines, as does Kailin’s enthusiastic love of all things beauty.

Benny is, following Indigo’s untimely exit, the baby of Instant Influencer. What he lacks in experience he makes up for with his penchant for colour and innovative makeup looks. His YT Channel , however, would benefit from more content, a good filming backdrop and volume increase. He’s cute, but for me hasn’t got what it takes to win as he’s up against much stronger contestants.

Instant Influencer: Ingenious or Incidental?

At the beginning of both episodes of Instant Influencer Executive Producer James is in corporate mode, promoting ‘brand Charles‘, whilst silmutanteously ‘acting‘ as a game show host, but the two roles don’t gel well. It’s a bit uncomfortable to watch and …

“…a bit cringey…”

Smokey Glow. I watched James Charles’ Instant Influencer so you don’t have to … a review* YouTube (25th April, 2020)

I rode out this wave of cringeness and fortunately the Wall Street ‘My Brand, My Show Sell, Sell, Sell!’ gave way to better viewing. Once the contestants arrived James got into his stride as host, mentor and judge: he put the contestants at ease, gave them great advice and helpful tips, his critiques were fair – in fact he came across as really caring about the contestants and wanting to help them get the most from their time on the show.

There’s one issue with the show that definitely needs addressing, both here and in series two of Instant Influencer (Yes, a second series is planned). In one of the reviews of the show I read whilst researching, the author wrote that James’s new web series was…

“…injecting much needed life, diversity and fun into a classic format.”

Dazed Digital

My immeadiate reaction to this was “REALLY???” Life and fun, yes, but diversity?? Mmm? Where’s the disabled influencers? The plus sized beauty addicts? The more mature makeup enthusiasts? The demographic of the show is somewhat diverse but is it diverse enough? The age, aesthetics, physicality, ethnenticity and mobility of the contestants offers a thin slither of beauty community cake, rather than a truly representive slice, that a range of viewers could really get their teeth into. James, You Tube and the team overlooked an opportunity for real inclusion, favouring instead, a safer, more generic approach when selecting the contestants, which, no doubt restricted its appeal to potential viewers.

The PYT contestants pictured with Norvina and James front and centre!
Photo: YouTube Originals/James Charles

The guest judges, so far, have been entertaining and helpful. Paris was a bit overshadowed by her pooch, but her reactions to the contestants’ handy work in the challenges were very positive and encouraging. Trixie was a delight, fun, fair and inspirational in the drag challenge. It’ll be interesting to see who will take the guest judge seats in the two remaining eps. Enter the Dragun? Yeah, I’d put money on Nikita making an appearance on the panel!

Crouching Nikita, Hidden Dragun – is she set to pounce on Instant Influencer as a guest judge?
Image: James Charles (Edited by Entirely Beauty)

The resident, assistant judge, Norvina offers the contestants salient, insightful appraisals and shares her wealth of inside industry knowledge, which is invaluable to those with their eyes on the prize. Norvina does come across as being out of her comfort zone on the show though, something she has openly admitted on Twitter.

Norvina on being in the judges seat on Instant Influencer

Reactions to Instant Influencer

After Instant Influencer aired, fans of James and the show also took to Twitter to share their thoughts. @lolareyouclara summed up both her own opinion and the general consensus, by tweeting out, “Honestly this show is amazing”, whilst @iconicjames declared “@jamescharles is the new Simon Cowell”. In his own YT ‘reaction’ video – Full Face Using ONLY a Beauty Blender & Instant Influencer Tea – James told the sisters that all the responses to the show had been positive and that he was “…so, so, so grateful.”

James, when you’ve added ‘Featured in SHREK as myself’ to your resumé, then, and only then, can you be compared to the Legend … (***wait for it***) … dary Simon!


Not all the responses were positive though: many have criticised the elimination process, which is totes brutal! To add perspective here, the elimination of a contestant on any reality/competition show is ‘the money shot’: it’s that ‘watch from behind a cushion moment’, with fingers crossed, hoping that your favourite doesn’t go bye-bye. Producers know this and so they create drama and tension to bring out an emotional response in both the departing contestant AND the viewing audience. It is what it is.

Having said that, it’s not the butt-clenching build up to the already infamous ‘knock on the loser’s door’ that folks have taken issue with; no, it’s the fact that having told the losing contestant the bad news and trotted out the usual reality show bon mots of psuedo-comfort, James imeadiately asks the (now very upset for very obvious reasons) departee to face the camera and film the ep’s outro. Imagine being asked to smile, ‘perform’, and promote yourself having just received, what would be, in that moment, totally devastating news! Uh huh…


James adds Xtra drama to ‘The Money Shot’
Image: James Charles – Instant Influencer

James did address this criticism in his video stating that having the loser face the camera to end the ep and plug their channels bought everything “…full circle.” To add weight to his theory he concluded that the losing contestants “…are influencers after all.” I understand the whole ‘show must go on’ mentality that is at play here. I also get the need for the contestants to utilise the ‘last chance saloon’ opportunity to promote their platforms, but despite all that it’s still…


A significant factor from the viewing audience perspective is that the contestants have charisma and style, presence and personality, and, obviously the necessary skill set required to be an influencer. These attributes are absolutely vital: if the viewer is going to ‘invest’ in those taking part, then the contestants need to have the likability and watchability factor. All six of them ARE very likeable and all six ARE very watchable.

No, the contestants ain’t as diverse as they could’ve been, but they ARE worthy of an investment of your eyes, ears and time. Anyone who is remotely interested in beauty & makeup will enjoy this series of Instant Influencer (and the next for that matter). OK, so the show needs a tweak here and there: yeah, it’ll make you cringe in places, OMG the eliminations are damn dramatic and James might not be your favourite beauty guru, BUT he does know his shit! I rate Instant Influencer, am lovin the ride and I’d recommend the show to both beauty and non beauty adicts alike, cos everyone should

“…follow all of the contestants’ journeys … especially the [eventual] winner … they are an incredibly talented individual.”

James Charles during an interview with Insider
The flawless and beautiful Paris, James & Norvina – Episode One
Image: YouTube

Have you watched Instant Influencer? If so I’d really like to know what you think of James as the host/mentor? Do you like the contestants and what you think of the judges? What are your opinions of the show as a whole and which of the contestants domyou want to see crowned the winner. If you haven’t seen it yet, and/or don’t intend to, I’d still very much welcome your opinions too – I’d be especially interested to know why you haven’t watched it.

Thanks, as always, for taking time out of your day to join me in the blogosphere and read my post, I really do appreciate it. Don’t forget to drop your comments below, I cant wait to read them! If you enjoyed this post please like, follow and subscribe so you don’t miss any future posts. Also, when you subscribe you’ll also receive a FREE copy of EB Extra as a thank you. It’s my monthly publication with extra and exclusive news, reviews, top tips & other beauty content!

Until next time, take care

💋 Entirely Beauty 💋

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Published by entirelybeauty

Beauty blogs, reviews and other beauty related content from a self-confessed beauty product addict!

13 thoughts on “James Charles’ Instant Influencer: An Instant Success?

  1. ahh finally – I’ve been waiting to discuss this show with someone lol! I agree with you that the lack of diversity was totally shocking – there needs to be more racial, age, body, ability diversity.

    I’m intrigued by the challenges and seeing these different aspiring influencers work through each challenge, but sometimes I find the show itself cringeworthy. For example, within episode one, I cringed at the way that James really talked about influencers selling product in a convincing way… it makes it seem disingenuous, ya know?

    That being said, I’m likely going to keep watching. Def routing for Ashley to win!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, hope you’re ok
      I’ve been hoping someone would want to chat about this too! ☺
      The lack of diversity hit me straight away and, for a forward thinking, media savvy, entrepreneural, young businessman with his finger on the societal pulse, James, (not to mention YouTube & the team behind the show) should’ve known better – I was so disappointed with that aspect of the show.
      I have liked the challenges etc, so far, but I think they could have gone a step further with some of them. For example, the red carpet task – where were the photos – red carpet looks have to stand up and stand out in photos.
      You are right about the cringiness of certain aspects of the show too and yes disingenous definately springs to mind.
      I will keep watching too – am curious to see what other challenges and judges will be thrown into the mix, and who will be the eventual winner.
      Let’s hope they (James/YouTube/James’s Team/The Production Company) put a lot more diversity into series two, along with a little more thought with regards to the challenges.
      Aside from Ashley, who else in the competition do you think has what it takes to be an influencer?
      Thanks for your fab comment, hope to chat about this again with your soon – maybe after show three? 😁


      1. Kailin (not sure if I spelled it correctly) really stands out, too! And I thought that Indigo would make it until the end TBH!

        I agree with you regarding the red carpet challenge – I thought they were going to take photos and comment on how certain makeup should be applied with red carpet photography in mind!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Kailin is lovely, talented too, she deserves a to be in to the end too. I love Indigo, lol, (I think that may be apparent from the blog post) and was seriously shocked that he left so soon.
        Do you think the show would benefit from having more contestants/being more than four eps? The BBC Glow Up (have you seen that?) had more contestants and played out over a longer time period, this gave viewers a chance to ‘get to know those involved.
        I also learnt a lot from watching that show, whereas, with Instant Influencer, I don’t get that. It would for example, have been great to learn some tips and tricks for red carpet makeup (not that invites for red carpet events are flooding through my letterbox 😉).
        I want to be entertained, but I want to learn too.
        Do you think James is doing a good job as the host/judge/mentor?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think the first episode was a little awkward, but I think that James is getting better. I think in the future, the show should be longer than 4 episodes but I think this season was just intended to be a tester. It will be interesting to see if the next season is still free or if YouTube will put it behind a paywall.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Totally agree – it was awkward, maybe he found the transition from tuber to show host a bit difficult? After all they are two very different animals ☺ Yes, going forward, more than four would be a good move for the show, but I sincerely hope there’s no price tag attached. I presume the show is funded by advertising, product placement and sponsorship – let’s hope it stays that way. Not sure I’d be willing to pay to view, would you?


      5. So you’ll be watching this Friday? It does help make lockdown more bareable (hope everything is ok where you are in that respect). Any ideas on judges for the last two esp?


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