Nikkie de Jager – known to some by her YouTube username, NikkieTutorials – is appearing as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2020. The TV talk show segment seems friendly enough on-air. Indeed, there’s little to hint at the controversy the makeup artist will later stir up about her experience on the program in the months ahead.
The reason for de Jager’s visit to ellen was an emotional one. Prior to her visit, she had come out as transgender on her very popular YouTube channel. But she hadn’t done so on her own timeline: someone had attempted to blackmail her into revealing her truth to the world.
And de Jager covered this in her appearance on ellen. The host, also a member of the LGBTQ community, gave the YouTube star a platform to share her story with the nation, which she appreciated. However, her experience behind the scenes was much different than what guests saw on stage. And the make-up artist wasn’t shy about telling the world that story, either.
A 14-year-old de Jager first had her interest in makeup piqued in 2008 while watching reality TV. Specifically, she tuned into an episode of MTV’s The Hills, and, as she told website Hello Giggles, she “saw eyeliner and blush.” From there, she was hooked, recalling, “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. What is this?’”
It seems de Jager’s next step was a fateful one, too. The teenager logged on to YouTube, where she found a tutorial for recreating the eyeliner worn by the The Hills’ star, Lauren Conrad. She said, “I was obsessed. I was like, ‘What is this?’ and, ‘I want more.’”
At that time, de Jager told Hello Giggles, the online makeup community was pretty small. So, her interest came at the perfect time, as did her launch onto the YouTube tutorial scene. She said, “That’s when I started practicing, going to the drugstore, getting stuff – and that’s where it all began.”
From there, de Jager started making YouTube videos of her own for a couple of years before enrolling in Amsterdam’s B Academy, where she studied cosmetics. She started work as a professional makeup artist after that, although she left her agency in 2014 to strike out on her own as a freelancer.
In 2015 de Jager got her big break with – what else – a video she uploaded to her YouTube channel titled “The Power of Makeup.” In it, she does up half of her face with ten products while leaving the other half untouched. Her incredible artistry inspired countless others to upload similar videos of themselves with and without makeup, too.
From there, de Jager’s star has only continued to rise. In 2017 she won two awards for her online beauty expertise: a Shorty Award and a Teen Choice Award. She has collaborated with the likes of Kim Kardashian-West and Lady Gaga for makeup videos. And her YouTube channel has garnered more than one billion views and 13 million subscribers.
As much as de Jager shares online, though, she still kept some things private and off-camera. However, in January 2020, she was forced to make a public admission about herself through her YouTube channel. It was information that the makeup artist wanted to share eventually, but she did so sooner than planned because someone tried blackmailing her.
In her YouTube video, de Jager explains why she had kept her news to herself for so long. She begins, “Planet Earth is full of labels and I never felt comfortable with labels. I wanted to be my own person, my own identity, my own human being, without any rules, without any labels and without any restrictions.”
De Jager continues, “I wanted to start the year off by finally revealing a part of my life that has made me who I am. I can’t believe I’m saying this today, to all of you, for the entire world to see, but damn it feels good to finally do it. It’s time to let go and be finally free.”
With that, she reveals what she had long hid from the public. She says, “When I was younger I was born in the wrong body, which means that I am transgender.” And that was the secret that someone had blackmailed her into revealing to the world, regardless of whether or not she was ready.
Rather than speaking about her blackmailers, though, de Jager first told the story of how she came to be the woman known so well by the makeup community. The tale began before her birth – while her mom was pregnant, she was completely sure that she was expecting a baby girl.
In fact, de Jager’s mother had been so sure, she never once asked doctors to confirm her baby’s gender in her scans. In the clip, the YouTuber reveals, “She was convinced that she was going to have a girl and out came me. It was a surprise to my mom and a surprise to me as soon as I had brains to think with.”
On that note, de Jager recalls wanting to wear dresses instead of pants and t-shirts, even as a young child. Her taste in toys was different, too. She says, “I played with dolls and nail polish. My mum knew immediately that I was either going to be gay or a different kind of story.”
But de Jager wasn’t gay – she decided with the support of her mother to start living as a girl when she was six. At that point, she says, “I grew my hair out, people at my school knew and I think by the age of seven [or] eight I fully wore girls clothes only and the teachers were so supportive about it.”
Although de Jager identified as female, she didn’t transition right away – and this caused her hardship throughout her childhood. In the YouTube clip she admits, “I’ve always lived my youth as a girl and the hardest part about living your youth as a girl when you’re not officially a girl yet, is that you have to tell people in your life who you truly are, even though you feel trapped.”
De Jager goes on to say, “Meeting new people, growing close to them and telling them a side to your life that you don’t even want to talk about because you hate that part of your life, you don’t want that to be a part of your life, you don’t want to be known for that single part of your life. But still you have to and that is so hard.”
Eventually, de Jager did complete her transition, which she started at 14 – the same year she discovered her love of makeup. She took growth stoppers and hormones at that time, the first steps in the process. By 19, the YouTuber had finished the steps of her gender confirmation, all while cultivating her avid fan base online.
At the end of her video covering the transition, de Jager decides to address those who had forced her into making such a public statement. She says, “I have been blackmailed by people that wanted to leak my story to the press. At first it was frightening, it was frightening to know that there are people out there that are so evil that they can’t respect someone’s true identity. It is vile and it is gross.”
De Jager said that the blackmailers had their reasons for pressing her to come out to the world. She explains, “They said they wanted to leak it because I’m lying, or that I don’t want to tell my truth or because I’m too scared for people to know who I truly am.”
But de Jager came out the winner in her situation: she said that telling her story left her feeling no fear. Instead, she explained, “I’m not scared. Today’s the day I am free and I get to be me finally. Please know that this doesn’t change anything about me. My love for makeup has always been real, I have always been real.”
Although releasing the video freed de Jager, she did expect it to affect her YouTube following; she feared her audience might see her differently following the revelation. However, 300,000 new people subscribed to the makeup artist’s channel after her coming out. And people around the world praised her for her bravery despite the circumstances in which she shared her story.
The LGBTQ community also rallied behind de Jager, with none other than Ellen inviting the YouTuber onto her eponymous talk show. Indeed, the host has a long history of bringing inspiring young people from the community onto her program. So, the makeup artist made her appearance in early 2020.
On the ellen stage, de Jager went through her story once again with the talk show host, for the benefit of anyone in the audience who might not know what had happened to her. The makeup artist once again lauded her mother for her support throughout her childhood and transition. Indeed, she noted that other trans kids might not have the same love surrounding them.
It wasn’t just kids, either: de Jager knew that people of all ages struggled with the same discord she felt. She said, “I want to take this opportunity to hopefully inspire a lot of transgender people out there, and even when you’re starting later on your journey, that we need to accept that.”
De Jager continued, “It’s hard because I don’t know, it’s only been a week. I don’t know where this is going to go. I don’t know where I fit in this magical world. But as long as I get to be myself and inspire little Nikkies to be themselves, that’s all I can do.”
And de Jager knew that an appearance on ellen would give her more exposure to those who might need to hear her message. She told Ellen, “Thank you for letting me be here, because if there’s one person to get this message across globally – and you like no other know what it’s like to come out – just thank you for this honor.”
The niceties exchanged between de Jager and Ellen appeared genuine to viewers, too. One woman who claimed to be there for the interview taping wrote on a BuzzFeed article, “I was actually in the live studio audience during the taping of her interview and they looked like they got along fine.”
But a month after her sit-down with Ellen, de Jager appeared on the Dutch-language talk show, De Wereld Draait Door. Host Matthijs van Nieurwkerk brought up the fact that the YouTuber had made an appearance on ellen. He asked her what it was like on the world-famous interview show.
De Jager didn’t mince her words: she had found her time on the show to be unpleasant. It was mainly her interactions with Ellen – or lack thereof – which had rubbed her up the wrong way. The YouTuber said, “It’s really nice that you came over and said, ‘Hello’ to me… She didn’t.”
Like any good interviewer, van Nieuwkerk pressed de Jager for more details. But she simply said that all talk shows outside of her native Netherlands felt like “a whole different world.” Elaborating on that, she said, “It’s more distant.” However, she noted that her time on ellen also felt like “an honor.”
Interestingly enough, de Jager wasn’t the only person sharing such a story about Ellen. A week before her Dutch-language interview came to light, Twitter went into a frenzy over Kevin T. Porter’s online inquiry about the ellen show star. He tweeted, asking web users to share their “most insane stories [they’d] heard” about Ellen.
Soon enough, Porter’s tweet had a litany of explosive responses. One person shared the story of a pal who had worked on ellen “for two years.” They wrote, “[She] told me Ellen didn’t greet her once. In fact, upon employment, staff were told they weren’t allowed to talk to her.”
Benjamin Siemon, a TV writer, chimed in on the thread, too. He said that Ellen had a “sensitive nose” – to the point where she could send staff home for smelling badly. He alleged, “Everyone must chew gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her, and if she thinks you smell that day you have to go home and shower.”
Plus, Siemon claimed, Ellen would funnel her rage toward one person every day and they never knew who would face her fire. He explained, “’A new staff member was told, ‘Every day she picks someone different to really hate. It’s not your fault, just suck it up for the day and she’ll be mean to someone else the next day.’ They didn’t believe it but it ended up being entirely true.”
Of course, not everyone saw this alleged side of Ellen. Her fans stuck up for her in the face of de Jager-related drama. One commented on a BuzzFeed article, “I don’t know what all this Ellen-bashing is about. I don’t know either of these people personally but the interview was friendly and interesting and didn’t appear amiss in any way for the viewer.”
Since her ellen appearance, de Jager’s life has continued onward, although she has announced she had to make a tough decision regarding her impending wedding to Dylan Drossaers. They announced in April 2020 that they would postpone their nuptials in the light of recent global events.
Of course, in that and in even more personal endeavors, de Jager had the support of her fans and the community who lauded her bravery in coming out. She made mention of how much it all meant to her on her fateful ellen appearance. The makeup artist said, “I was so happy that it’s 2020 and the acceptance is real.”