“Fame, power and a fat bank account will change almost anyone. And if you don’t have people that tell you to your face that you’re doing the wrong things you will change,” Tati Westbrook, 37, said in the video she uploaded to her YouTube account on May 10. In the video, she ended her friendship with fellow beauty blogger/controversial “influencer” James Charles, 19, after accusing him of betraying her trust by promoting SugarBearHair vitamins, a direct competitor of her Halo Beauty supplements. “I don’t think there is any getting through to you and I don’t want to be friends with you. I don’t want to be associated with you, and I need to say that very publicly so that this chapter can just be closed,” she added. The video prompted the Internet to declare James’s career over, so who is he?
1. James Charles is a make-up artist, model, and Internet personality. With currently 16 million followers on YouTube, James Charles Dickinson is one of the biggest beauty stars on the platform. A relative newcomer to the beauty scene — he started his channel in 2015 — the Bethlehem, New York native became an overnight sensation after he retook his high school yearbook photo to accentuate his cheekbones, according to The List. The images went viral, and his glow up led him to blow up online.
2. He’s entirely self-taught. James’s natural skills with a makeup brush come from a life of drawing and painting. “I’m a super creative person and have always loved drawing and painting since I was super young, but makeup was a new avenue for me,” Charles told Cosmopolitan in 2016. “I used to draw portraits of celebrities, so I’ve always had a love for beautiful faces.”
Yet, there’s a difference between painting on canvas and painting a mug. Thankfully for James, he had the best teacher: the Internet. “YouTube videos and practice have taught me all I know,” he told Seventeen. “I’ve been watching tutorials for years now, so when I started makeup, I did have a semi-idea of how to do things. Other than that, it’s all been through experimenting and figuring out what works for me!”
3. He’s COVERGIRL’s first ever “CoverBoy.” James made history in 2016 when COVERGIRL named him as their first-ever male ambassador, christening them their “COVERBOY.”
“I am so honored and excited to be working with such an iconic brand,” he wrote on his Instagram. “I started my Instagram one year ago to inspire others and as an artistic outlet to challenge myself creatively. I truly hope that this shows that anyone and everyone can wear makeup and can do anything if you work hard.”
4. He almost sank his career with a racist tweet… Tati also alleged in her video that James tries to “trick” straight men into having sex with him. We have no knowledge as to whether there is any truth to this statement, but this isn’t the first time that his career has been “canceled.” In 2017, while on a school trip, he tweeted “I can’t believe we’re going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola?” He deleted the tweet and apologized for making that “offensive” joke.
5. …and this isn’t his first big-time celebrity feud. The mess with Tati Westwood – with James sharing an advertisement for SugarBearHair, a rival to her own vitamin company Halo Beauty, and the resulting drama – is not James’s first public feud. After he trashed 2017’s It for being “so predictable,” the cast trolled him for “exploit[ing] a moe that you hate for money and attention.” He also said Ariana Grande was one of the rudest celebrities he ever talked to and, earlier in 2019, got into it with fellow Internet personality Jovan Hill.
Oh, there’s also the controversy surrounding his post about attending the 2019 Met Gala. James got trolled for saying his invite was “a step forward in the right direction for influencer representation in the media,” as if “influencer” is a minority that needs “representation.”