Baylen Levine is a Youtuber, director, editor, vlogger, prankster, and Shrek superfan hailing from his hometown in northwestern Atlanta. Starting his self-titled channel at only seventeen years old, over one year later Baylen has earned almost 250k subscribers with the most positive fan-base ever. Alongside his cameraman and friend Noah occasionally joining in on the jokes, his charm, wit, and silliness allow him to say or do almost anything, resulting in laugh-out-loud, entertaining fun. His hilarious, wide variety of content includes asking for too many ice cream samples, golfing in other peoples holes, and pretending to work at a restaurant, all with messages woven in between of following your dreams, not worrying about what others think, never becoming a mature weenie, and having fun no matter how old you are. I talked to Baylen about what it was like collaborating with NELK, pranks that have gone wrong, and much more:
James: How did you get started? What inspired you to start your channel?
Baylen: During my junior year of high school, when everyone was talking about college and what they wanted to do for a living, I realized that I just could not see myself seated behind a desk for another 4 years of schooling to ultimately end up working a desk job for the rest of my life. I knew I would never be happy if I chose the same path as everyone else, and I definitely knew I wouldn't be happy working for someone, so I had to find something that I knew I would love doing for the rest of my life. That's when I picked up a camera and started to record myself having fun. My whole life I have always been doing that type of stuff, just not filming it. When I saw that people could actually make a living by recording themselves, I was inspired to start my own Youtube channel.
Ever since I was little, like 8 years old, I would make homemade movies. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say a director. In a way, that's exactly what I am doing now. Youtube has given many people like myself the ability to make a new type of entertainment for the world as it has become TV for the younger generation.
James: Do you consider yourself to be more of a vlogger or a prankster?
Baylen: I love making prank videos, but I also really like to create a strong bond with my fans through vlogging. I love sharing my life and my morals with them. When people watch pranks they are looking for a quick laugh, but when they watch vlogs they truly care about the person and look up to them. I love being able to do both for my fans.
James: Why did you get kicked out of school?
Baylen: I had to leave my high school after my junior year because of the videos on my Youtube channel, but that made me ten times more motivated to go after my dream. Although I was an online student my senior year, it felt as if my high school experience was over; therefore, the reality of having to support myself started to set in. I knew that Youtube was my only option in life and that I would never be happy if I didn't make it a reality. That's when I put my absolute all into my channel.
James: Do you plan on getting back at them?
Baylen: I think my continued success will eventually help them understand that their decision to make me leave was based on ignorance. I will never stoop down to their level by trying to get back at them, but when they eventually see or hear of my success and the positive I am doing for kids, they will know they were wrong.
James: Why did you decide to change your channel name from Benitez to Baylen Levine?
Baylen: I wanted to brand myself better. I want longevity and did not see myself going by Benitez forever. Bentitez still means a lot to me though, so I made it my brand, similar to how Logan Paul has Maverick, NELK has Full Send, and David Dobrik has ClickBait.
James: How would you define a "mature weenie"?
Baylen: Someone who cares so much about what others think that they try to look good by trying to impress everyone else.
James: How did you get to collaborate with Nelk? What was the experience like?
Baylen: They randomly commented on one of my videos and followed me. I DM'd them and told them we looked up to them. They responded by saying we should collab when in LA. It was a super cool experience to work with them because we got to see how one of the most successful prank channels shot their videos. It wasn't too different from how we do it. Just kids having fun with a camera. It's crazy to think about how I watched these guys in high school, dreaming of having that life, to then hanging out and working with them. It was so cool.
James: How did you meet Mr. Kahn?
Baylen: I met him because he worked at the gas station across from the high school that I had to leave. We originally went in there messing around, but then quickly learned that Mr. Kahn was so nice and cool. He's the complete opposite of a mature weenie. Just goes to show you that you can be a grown ass man and still not be a mature weenie. He is like 60 years old and still knows how to laugh and have a good time. One of the nicest people I have ever met. I want to do something special for him when I have a lot of money.
James: Why do you choose to always include him in your videos?
Baylen: I choose to put him in my videos because he is always so happy and can make anyone smile, and that's a perfect representation of what I want the videos to do for people.
James: Is it hard to not laugh when doing a prank? What do you think about to stop yourself from laughing?
Baylen: Not at all. I completely become a character and am no longer Baylen Levine when I prank. I am Ben Dover. It's never been hard for me to improvise, but every once in a while I do break character and start laughing. It happens a lot when I am doing the prank with one of my friends and we make eye contact. That shit always gets me.
James: What's been your obsession with Lil Yachty?
Baylen: Lil Yachty is one of my main influences. At 18 years old, he knew he couldn't have a normal life and hated college, so he worked hard and made his dreams reality. He also preaches about staying sober and being positive, even though he's surrounded by rappers who drink and smoke all the time. This showed me that I can do it too. I looked up to him and wanted to be in a position where I could preach about that stuff to kids too. Now I can. What's crazy is sometimes kids tell me that I am their Yachty, meaning the way I look up to Lil Yachty is how they look up to me. That gives me chills.
James: What was it like performing on stage with him?
Baylen: It was awesome to go up on stage with him and tell him how much he has done for me. After the show everyone was asking for pictures and shit, it was like my first taste of fame. I loved it and quickly learned that it was something I wanted in life. That night motivated me. I told myself I'd get up on stage and I did. It ultimately lead to me telling myself that I would blow up on YouTube too, and I did. Now every time I go out in public people stop me and ask for pictures, just as they did that night at the Yachty concert.
James: How do you make sure a prank doesn't go too far?
Baylen: I try to make myself look dumb and be a weird character. I never want to make fun or bully anyone. I don't go for appearance or any of that. Usually, people end up laughing at the end when we tell them it was a joke for my Youtube channel. However, every now and then I get a mature weenie that freaks out. When that happens I will admit I push their buttons a little more than others.
James: How long does it normally take to make a video?
Baylen: It depends. Some days you wake up at 9 am to film and get great reactions from the start, take it home and edit it, and have it out by the next day. Other times it takes a week to capture good reactions. I edit all my own videos too, so that takes a lot of time. I love every second of it though. From filming to being on camera to editing, to putting it out and seeing what parts make people laugh.
James: What would you say makes your channel different from other YouTubers with similar content?
Baylen: Everything I do is real. I have never faked a prank and never will. I also am truly thankful for my fans and take time to interact with them. I try to like and respond to a lot of my comments, DM people back and follow every fan page. I will never let fame or money change me either.
James: Has there ever been a time where a prank went wrong or didn't go as planned?
Baylen: Yeah, I was doing a prank where I took an air mattress and slept in the middle of stores until the cops came. They told me I would be going to jail. While outside, one of them was acting like a huge dick and snatched my phone out of my hands and slammed it down on the top of the car in the rain. He was just trying to scare me by saying because I'm 18, " I'll be going to big boy jail." Luckily, his cop buddies were understanding and referenced Impractical Jokers. They understood that we were simply shooting a harmless video. Eventually, they let us go with just a trespassing warning.
James: Are there any videos you regret doing?
Baylen: I don't regret any of my videos, because in my heart I know they aren't wrong. I see so much stuff on Youtube of people just being complete assholes and taking it too far, and then I look at my own videos where I'm fake asleep in public or playing video games in public and know it's just harmless fun.
James: What's been your favorite part about the whole Youtube experience? Hardest part?
Baylen: My favorite part is seeing my life change. I dreamed of having kids look up to me and asking for pictures with me while in public. It happens every day now. Having an audience and doing what I love for a living is the greatest feeling in the world.
The hardest part was seeing my family take the backlash from others because they don't understand what I am doing. People would frown on my parents for letting me do Youtube because most adults just don't understand it's a viable career pathway in life. Streaming is taking over, and more kids watch YouTube than cable now. It's a career, and most adults don't yet understand this because it wasn't an option for them when they were growing up. I never let it get to me though. I know when I am super successful I don't even have to say anything, because everyone will just know in their hearts that they were wrong. It took a little while, but my parents now understand the YouTube pathway and what I'm trying to accomplish. I'm grateful they were open-minded enough to learn about it rather than trying to shut down my channel. It's been really nice feeling the support from them.
James: What was your favorite video to make? Hardest video to make?
I enjoy every video I make, but my favorites are the fan meetups. It's so fun having fans with me just messing around. I love seeing them happy and having a good time, and it shows on camera.
The hardest video to make was probably when I recreated a Key and Peele skit where he was mattress shopping and he humps the beds, but I did it in real life to real people trying to get real reactions. Some people just wouldn't put up with it, and it was super hard to film from outside a mattress store, but we kept doing it and got some really good reactions.
James: How do people normally react when you tell them that it's a prank? What are some of the worst reactions have gotten?
Baylen: Usually, people laugh and are super cool afterward. This one time we did a prank where we put a small penis parking sign up next to cars and this guy flipped out. He tried to make fun of my friend's braces and hair, it was hilarious. He was a grown man attacking a teenager's appearance. I guess he was so upset because he really does have a small penis...
James: How do you stay motivated to keep making content?
Baylen: I just love it so much. I can't imagine having a normal job and waking up every day miserable. I love everything about what I do and am so thankful for it all.
James: What are you doing when you aren't making videos?
Baylen: Everything I do in my videos is what I do when I am not making videos. Everything you see on camera is what happens off-camera. For the longest time, my friends and I would prank and not even film it.
James: What advice do you have for upcoming YouTubers?
Baylen: Do not give up, ever. Stay consistent and don't let anyone tell you it's not possible. You could be getting 500 views and the next day be getting 5,000. Don't pay attention to numbers, just post you doing shit and having fun. It's as simple as that.
James: What videos are you planning on doing next? Are you planning on doing anything else besides Youtube? What are your goals moving forward?
Baylen: I'm just gonna keep up the vlogs and pranks! I will be traveling so there will be new locations and different types of people in the videos. I plan on starting a record label for Lil Peej, get into acting, going on tour to do live shows, growing my clothing brand, and then eventually opening up Camp Benitez for kids. My goals are to change the world and truly inspire kids and show them that dreams are possible. I want to influence them positively and as cheesy as it sounds, change the world.