I SEE U, Episode 80: Sweet Sounds of Amazing Gracie [Encore]

The Houston family behind the visually popular YouTube channel, “Gracie’s Corner,” reveals how their digital platform showcasing their daughter highlights Black culture through education, the importance of family and empowers millions of children worldwide. This episode is an encore of the April 1st, 2023 original broadcast.


Dr. Javoris Hollingsworth, Dr. Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth and Graceyn Hollingsworth, the creators of the YouTube show Gracie's Corner.


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10-year-old Graceyn Hollingsworth has become an internet viral sensation. Her popular YouTube children’s channel, “Gracie’s Corner,” features Black and brown animated characters reciting remixed nursery rhymes, soulful vintage poems and original songs in video form. Her father, Javoris Hollingsworth, came up with the idea during the pandemic and noticed the lack of diversity, especially in educational tools for kids. But with so much uncertainty around social media and digital entrepreneurship, are the financial sacrifices worth the risk? And what do you say to parents who support programs like this, but they are still concerned about the amount of screen time that children of a certain age are spending on the internet or watching television? Join us as host Eddie Robinson speaks unguarded with members of the Hollingsworth family – the content creators behind “Gracie’s Corner.” Javoris, along with his wife, Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth and Gracie herself stop by our I SEE U studios for a candid conversation about the triumphs and challenges of developing such an inclusive brand of this nature. The Houston-based educators will also share insight on new, upcoming features and details on a live tour in the works.

Full Transcript

Eddie Robinson: 10-year-old Gracie Hollingsworth has become an internet viral sensation. Her popular YouTube children’s channel features black and brown characters reciting nursery rhymes with a little more soul and rhythm. Her dad came up with the idea during the pandemic. And notice the lack of diversity, especially in educational tools for kids.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Actually, watching a lot of the content that my kids were watching, it really dawned me like, man, I don’t see many characters that look like my kids.

Eddie Robinson: I’m Eddie Robinson. Stay tuned as we take you on a journey to Gracie’s Corner. Gracie joins us for Chatting Studio, along with her mom and dad, Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth and Javoris Hollingsworth.

Eddie Robinson: The three of them share their triumphs and challenges in creating content that highlights black culture and empowers the minds and hearts of all people from different parts of the world. Oh yeah. I feel you. We hear you. I SEE U.

Eddie Robinson: You are listening to I SEE U I’m your host Eddie Robinson.

Eddie Robinson: As a person who grew up in the early seventies, my experience of learning the alphabets and numbers from television and media, mostly stem from programs like Sesame Street and the Electric Company, but I also enjoyed popular music and certain songs helped put a spin on learning for me.

Eddie Robinson: Take for instance, the 1981 track from the German group Craftwork. I mean, I have to admit, when I heard numbers for the first time, I instantly realized my love for math and the German culture.

Eddie Robinson: Over four decades later, a black family from Houston, Texas is doing something somewhat similar, yet more creative and deliberate. They’re taking those old traditional nursery rhymes and vintage poems and adding a bit of cultural flavor and popular rhythms to those songs, all in an effort to attract kids of color in helping them learn and discover a bit better the world around.

Eddie Robinson: For example, did you ever think that New Orleans own DJ Jimi and his hit song Where They At would be the inspiration behind a pad cake patty cake, nursery rhyme.

Eddie Robinson: And speaking of the Crescent City, imagine the fun and energy of hearing a second line celebratory rhythm mixed in with the nursery rhyme. London Bridge Is Falling Down.

Eddie Robinson: And that’s why we’re extremely grateful to have with us 10-year-old Internet star Graceyn Hollingsworth. She’s better known to the world as Gracie and her very own YouTube channel. Gracie’s Corner. The videos featured highlight black culture through 40. How many videos?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: It’s grown.

Eddie Robinson: It’s grown. There you go. A lot. I’m gonna say over 40. Yeah. Yeah. Over 40 short educational videos that are diverse, colorful, and just packed with so much rhythmic fun. Her parents, Dr. Javoris Hollingsworth and his wife, Dr. Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth, are both here to engage with us to learn more about what’s on the horizon for Grace’s Corner and what they’ve learned about digital media as black entrepreneurs.

Eddie Robinson: Of this very competitive and cool digital world. Gracie’s Corner is right here in our studio at I SEE U. Thank you all so much for being here.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Thank you, Eddie.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yes. Thank you.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Thank you for having me.

Eddie Robinson: I, I am so grateful to have you. And my first question goes to you Gracie. Gracie, you have. Millions of subscribers, followers, friends all over the world, you can really sing and you’re living in a city that has some pretty amazing talent.

Eddie Robinson: H-town that does have some incredible singers. Who’s your favorite?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: My favorite singers is, I’d say Lizzo or Beyonce.

Eddie Robinson: Interesting. Because they both are from the city of Houston. I knew it.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yep.

Eddie Robinson: My son loves your videos, especially he loves your version. Of the letter A, a song where you talk about the different sounds of the letter.

Eddie Robinson: When he hears that song, immediately his head starts bopping. He loves that one.

Eddie Robinson: He loves that one. You’ve been doing this for a while. How does it feel for you to know that so many people A, are enjoying what you’re doing?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: I feel really happy to see that they are enjoying our videos that we are making and that I hope that they help me on this journey.

Eddie Robinson: Yes. Yes. And you’re helping them. You’re helping them as well on their journey, you know, trying to learn ABCs and all that. You know, it’s intense parents. You have to be just ecstatic. Right. How do you feel about this journey then?

Eddie Robinson: I, I believe you started it in June of 2020. Correct.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Mind blowing is probably the best word to use. You know, we’re just a family, you know, hardworking family, you know, both of us working full-time jobs. You know, during a pandemic had a daughter, she’s loved to sing all of her life. I have videos of her when she was two, singing and trying to play the piano, but I just could never imagine where we’d be, you know, because like I said, but to me, it really speaks to how.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: A normal family, normal people can do things and it can turn out to be bigger than they imagined. And so, you know, normal people, normal families can do big things, you know? And so, yeah. So, I would say mind blowing is, Probably the best way to describe everything that we’ve experienced over, especially the last year, I would say.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah, I would definitely echo that because it’s so crazy to me. It feels almost like yesterday when we started and then to see where we are now. Like I even remember starting out during the height of the pandemic. And, um, me, I was a chemistry professor at the time, so trying to juggle that and, uh, creating Gracie’s Corner, uh, was quite a journey and I, it was tough starting out, but it’s been amazing to see how that labor of love have turned into this amazing thing that all families can, can truly enjoy from the little kids, even to the grandparents. So, this has been awesome.

Eddie Robinson: You’re listening to I SEE U. I’m Eddie Robinson, and we’re chatting with the Houston based family behind the popular YouTube children’s series called Gracie’s Corner. Your videos not only are educational and as far as teaching children about, you know, counting and letters, but you are also incorporating elements of black culture, right?

Eddie Robinson: I mean, how important do you feel it is to expose children to other cultures through the content that they watch?

Javoris Hollingsworth: Honestly, that was a big piece behind the whole inspiration for it. So while actually watching a lot of the content that my kids were. It really dawned me like, man, I don’t see many characters that look like my kids.

Javoris Hollingsworth: And you know, sometimes people feel like, oh, well that’s no big deal. But when you really think about it at its core, if you’re, if someone is constantly watching this imagery or things that they don’t see themselves in. And you start to question like, okay, do I belong? And you start to have all of these feelings of doubt and not really understanding that you truly do belong and you are just as special as anyone else.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Because when you look at the world in general, it’s this amazing. Beautiful melting pot with all these different cultures, backgrounds, you name it. But it’s not always reflected the same way in the media. So we saw that void and we, we took a, an intentional approach in how we went for it.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: And even with the music and the videos…

Eddie Robinson: mm-hmm.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: …like we are, like, we’re really intentional with the places we show the kind of music. Like there’s so much variety. And to his credit, he’s the main one that says, I don’t want it to be in a box because. We talk about black music. It’s blues, it’s hip hop.

Eddie Robinson: It’s Afro Beats.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: R & B. It’s Afro beats. It’s the jazz band second line music. Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s all of that, you know, and one of the big things has been, You know, exposing kids to different places cuz the scenes and videos will be maybe for instance in The Bahamas or the Happy If You Know It, video is in Africa on a beach. Like, you know, cuz unfortunately some of the images you see of Africa, you may think, okay, it’s safari only.

Eddie Robinson: Correct.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: But there’s, it’s developed cities, it’s beautiful beaches. So we’re very intentional. Want to expose children to the different places and different types of music through Gracie’s Corner.

Eddie Robinson: And I even noticed some things about Houston. I mean, oh yeah, that’s what, what really caught my attention. You know, we’re watching it over the holidays and then there’s some, some different like buildings and structures and I’m thinking. They are not from Houston.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah.

Eddie Robinson: Oh, we have got to get them. We’ve got to get, because you know, with the show, being in Houston, it’s so beautiful to not only see the city being reflected. In animation, but knowing that the family is right here and that’s beautiful. That’s great.

Eddie Robinson: Coming up, we continue our chat with the family behind the popular YouTube Kids channel, Gracie’s Corner, Dr. Javoris Hollingworth, Dr. Arlene Gordon Hollingsworth. And their 10-year-old daughter, Gracie, herself. We’ll ask the parents, were they ever concerned about the safety and mental health of their daughter? Especially when it comes to social media. Also, who writes the scripts? Who produces the songs? Who’s responsible for the animation?

Eddie Robinson: We’ll pull away the curtain and find out more. Plus, what are some future features parents and fans of Gracie’s Corner can look forward to as the channel continues to earn praise and more followers? I’m Eddie Robinson. I SEE U. Our second segment comes your way in just a moment. We’ll be right back.

Eddie Robinson: If you’re enjoying this program, please be sure to subscribe to our podcast I SEE U you with Eddie Robinson. You can hear all the past episodes and be notified when new episodes are released. Also, please take a minute to give us a review or comment. We love getting feedback from our listeners.

Eddie Robinson: You’re listening to I SEE U. I’m Eddie Robinson and we’re here with Graceyn Hollingsworth. She’s the star of Gracie’s Corner. The popular YouTube channel for kids. Gracie is in studio along with her mom and dad, Dr. Javoris Hollingsworth and his wife, Dr. Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth. Gracie’s Corner is approaching 2 million subscribers after debuting the channel in June of 2020.

Eddie Robinson: During a Global Pandemic, the channel offers up a series of videos that feature educational, rhythmic, and inspiring songs for children, and highlights more diverse cultures in a way that’s catchy, vibrant, and danceable. Now, how did the name Gracie’s Corner come about? Do you guys remember?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Hmm. Well, it came about cause. Well technically because we, my mom, she got the idea first. She was thinking about, well her name is technically Graceyn, so let’s just change it up a bit. Like make it Gracie’s Corner.

Eddie Robinson: And were you at all concerned, mom? Like here is this show. And then we’re thinking, okay, let’s put some videos to it. You know, we can get some really cool voiceover for someone to do it. You’re like, who can we get to sing and who can we what? What’s going on there? Were you concerned?

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: So, I was actually the one when. One, she wanted a YouTube channel for some time, and we had thrown around different ideas. One of our concerns was always her privacy.

Eddie Robinson: Correct.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: You know, because a lot of kids want to do the videos where you follow them in their everyday life. And we just said, you know what? It really is something that sometimes we take for granted, having privacy, having space. And so, for her, something we really wanted. So, when we started thinking about this, and he was saying, Hey, let’s do Gracie’s Corner. Had the ideas. My first thought was, Gracie can sing.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: What was your first thought when I said that?

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah. I, I was on the fence. Um, going back to the, being that protective dad. Sure. I, I was like, um, you know, want to explore this concept, but can she handle it? And mom was like, no, she can do it.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: And remember, she was seven.

Javoris Hollingsworth: She was seven when we-

Eddie Robinson: She was seven. She was seven.

Javoris Hollingsworth: So, mom was the big advocate. Okay. I gotta give her credit for that. Okay. She stood up into the plate and yes. And it’s been awesome to see her grow with the show because I see the development in her self-confidence and yeah, just, it’s been amazing.

Eddie Robinson: Do you remember the first video post that you ever created, and you know what, what, what was going through your mind?

Eddie Robinson: What you know? Do you recall that moment? What was it like for you?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: It was really like explosion.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Were you nervous or how, how did you feel?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: I wasn’t nervous. Oh. But it definitely made a change. Yeah. In YouTube. But the first video that we made was, Baby rode the boat. If you’ve seen the channel

Eddie Robinson: Row, the boat. That song is blazing.

Eddie Robinson: What went on in producing the music and how, how did that all come about? Because it sounded so. Hot.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah. For, for that, it was that opportunity where I saw like, let’s one make something that children of color can watch and see themselves. Like that was the one big thing. But then I also saw it as this blank slate. Like, okay, we’re gonna do children’s music, but let’s make it fun.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Let’s make it culturally relevant. Let’s make it something that. An entire family can enjoy because with, with your traditional children’s music, you, you almost want to pull your hair out after listening to it for a while, but right. So, we was like, okay, let’s, let’s kind of switch it up and make it to where parents can actually tolerate it and even join in on the fun.

Eddie Robinson: And I love that you have the representation. You mentioned this earlier, grandmother, grandfather, you know, the sisters in there. I mean this, everyone’s grooving, you know? How important was that for you all to ensure that there was a family unit, right? That there was a family unit to weave into a messaging part of Gracie’s Corner.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: There are strong, cohesive black families. They look different. Some can be, you know, mom, children, dad, children due to circumstances. But I think unfortunately sometimes in the media you may only see a certain type of family, and so we wanted to really put out there, hey, we are a strong, Black, cohesive family that has both parents present, you know, and that was one thing that was behind the scenes. But we also wanted to capture. In the videos and you know, family makeup can look different and it’s all beautiful and it’s all fantastic, but we just didn’t want there to be this narrative.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: And so, for us, a big thing was this, you know, I guess what you’d call the nuclear family out there, that is a black family.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Yes, exactly what she said. But I have something, a nugget.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah, please.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Okay. What’s your nugget?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: My nugget is that we were talking about row, row, row, your boat.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: So, we just made a new one.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Mm-hmm., you have to wait to hear about it.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Mm-hmm.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yes. Yes. So, there’s a remix coming. Yeah.

Javoris Hollingsworth: So, I guess this is an early, early message that she’s excited about. So, yeah, we, we, we did make a remix, but this one’s gonna be interesting. Like we’re, we’re, you may see an exciting feature. We’re, we’re working on that piece. Yeah, I know.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Tell more. Tell more.

Eddie Robinson: Yes, yes. We love nuggets, chicken nuggets, but we love these kind too. Tell us more.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Like Javoris said, I, it’s still work in progress, but one of the things we’ve done so far, and we are really proud of it, is just really tried to grow. Channeling the music organically, but we’ve gotten to that point where we’re like, you know what? It would be cool. To have some features. And so, when you think about bounce, you know, music, when you think about jazz music, we’re trying to get features that are from artists that are in those particular areas, you know? And so still in the works, so we don’t really have like, names to share, but we’re in the process of trying to, you know, get that in place.

Eddie Robinson: You’re listening to I SEE U. I’m Eddie Robinson and we’re here with the family of Gracie’s Corner. As we continue on, I wanted to get some insight on the process, you know, and you, you mentioned, Normal families in the pandemic, but I, I just want to get a taste of like, what really is the process? Do you just, you know, come up with the song and then you go, you have a studio, you go to a recording studio in New York, or, you know, what, what, how does all that work?

Eddie Robinson: It’s, is it at home?

Javoris Hollingsworth: That’s a, that’s a good question and a lot of people don’t realize it, but. The production team pretty much is what you’re looking at right now. Like…

Eddie Robinson: Wow.

Javoris Hollingsworth: And the way we do it is at home, which I think goes back to my wife’s point about just a normal family putting this whole thing together.

Javoris Hollingsworth: But yeah, I, you know, I write the songs and we, we of course have my daughter, Gracie, who does the, the singing. I didn’t write the scripts. And then we have an animator that’s, well now it’s a team that’s based out in Nigeria. Does the animation and the. We go from there. So, it, it is just been this really, like this true family effort.

Eddie Robinson: And so how, how do you come up with the ideas? Do you listen to like a radio, do you listen to like some songs and you’re like, oh, I want to have this beat, like making Megan Thee Stallion. Go.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Most times? My mom, she’s the one that like, she’s like, she gives us ideas. Like yesterday we wanted to make a and then he already got the beat from the producer, and so my mom’s like do London Bridge Is Falling Down or either the mouse went up the clock or either any nursery.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: We used it as a family, and we’ll talk. I mean, to be honest, I’m not this like he’s a music genius and that’s funny because okay.

Eddie Robinson: Dad is.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Married for 12 years. Wow. You know, we met when we were both in graduate school and I knew he could play the piano.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: I knew that he was kind of gift in that area because he’s someone, if you were to play a song right now, he could go on that piano and play it because he plays by ear. He does. He’s, he’s shaking his head, but he does.

Eddie Robinson: That’s fascinating.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: And grew up playing in a church, so I knew that about him. But it still, to me didn’t translate into this. Like it’s sure it’s a different level. Like someone who can literally hear a beat, write lyrics to what they hear, know where to a, like he composes things, knows where to add the adlibs. What the cor like, I’m like mean genius. Genius.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Well, I think that he, he is a genius. He really is a genius. But he also had, when we first like were getting the idea of doing Gracie’s Corner, he still needed to like learn to like thingies to do it, like get the like right equipment and stuff like that. But he is a genius.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yeah, so there was a learning curve. So yeah.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah. And not only a genius, I mean, dad, you are. Like an organic chemist, you know what I mean? I mean you’ve, you’ve taught in Beijing and plus you were in China as well, mom. I mean you, how has your lives changed, or at least what’s the transition been like as a result of your professional careers and then all of a sudden, it’s Gracie’s corner?

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah, it’s changed drastically. I mean, especially for me, at first, I was doing decent at. You know, being a professor and, you know, producing and getting all that, you know, stuff together. But it got to a point where it was really hard to keep up with the, the two. So, I had to make a tough decision because I enjoyed going into classroom and that first day of class.

Javoris Hollingsworth: You know, a person comes in, know nothing about chemistry or organic chemistry by the time they, you’re at the. They’re like these many geniuses are, you know, they’ve really become expert at that subject matter. Yeah. So, it’s really cool to have a hand in that development. But then on the other hand, I also saw the impact that Grace’s Corner was having on a much larger scale going, you know, globally.

Javoris Hollingsworth: So, you know, when I made the decision to resign from my position and do Grace’s Corner full. Yes. It was tough at first, but I, I, I feel like I’m really fulfilling my purpose with, with this because, you know, to see children of color excited about it, seeing families come together and enjoy the content, like everything has just been unreal.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Yes. So, what happens is that we used to go there when I was like, either like three or like four something, and then you used to take me most times. To his office wedding. Oh, my campus. Yeah. Yeah. And I really remember that. Enjoyed like having fun with his chemist friends.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: And the kids and stuff like that.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah. That’s amazing that you remember that. What’s it been like for you, Gracie, at school? Like have you know your friends and you know everyone there? What, what, how have they been reacting to…

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Well about that? I don’t really do school like that kind of school that you have to like go in the car and drive yourself to school. I actually do homeschool.

Eddie Robinson: Got it.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Started this some, I guess. I guess in August. Yeah.

Eddie Robinson: Got it. And how have the two of you been able to balance creating. You know, raising children, you know, educating them at the same time.

Javoris Hollingsworth: She’s, so I told you.

Eddie Robinson: Superwoman.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah. I, how I make that decision, like, okay, I can only do one, but she on the other hand has been killing it.

Javoris Hollingsworth: She still teaches at TSU. She. Has a private practice, uh, two locations, and she’s still a full-time mom. She also provides great ideas and concepts for the, the content that we produce.

Eddie Robinson: Sure.

Javoris Hollingsworth: You probably see a lot of mental health related concepts. That’s all her, even from the ABC song, you name it.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: I just think as a, as interesting, you know, a parent, whether you’re a father or mother, you just do what you have to do.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: You don’t, I mean, there’s no days off, of course. Kids, you know? And so it’s one of those things I’m just very, you know, I’m a psychologist so I, I think I understand I’m not the best at this all the time, but I try my best to be patient with myself and even to have compassion because I’m not perfect. Like sometimes if you’re having to run from vocal lesson to interviews, to dance lessons, dance, patience, then go teach.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: You know, there may be something you wanted to get done that will be left undone and that’s just, you know, the life of busy working parents everywhere. And so best thing I can say is just have compassion and many things that. You can’t get done. There’s always tomorrow, and we just prioritize, and children and my husband always a priority.

Eddie Robinson: Coming up, we wrap up our chat with Houston’s own, Gracie’s Corner, the very popular YouTube Children’s channel. Gracie is here in our studio with our parents. They’ll share with us how challenging it’s been for them to get Gracie’s Corner to where it is today. Building a social media following is no cake.

Eddie Robinson: Plus, what do you say to those parents who are supportive of shows and programs like this, but they’re still nervous and a bit concerned as to the amount of screen time that children of a certain age are spending on the internet or watching television? I’m Eddie Robinson. A captivating final segment of I SEE U comes your way right after this.

Eddie Robinson: If you’re enjoying this program, please be sure to subscribe to our podcast I SEE U with Eddie Robinson. You can hear all the past episodes and be notified when new episodes are released. Also, please take a minute to give us a review or comment. We love getting feedback from our listen.

Eddie Robinson: It’s I SEE U you. I’m your host, Eddie Robinson, and we’re having fun with Gracie’s Corner. The entire family behind the popular YouTube channel for kids is here with us. Hey, hey,

Eddie Robinson: Now at the time of this recording, about a million and a half subscribers counting. 10-year-old Gracie’s in studio with us, along with her mom and dad, Dr. Javoris, Hollingsworth and wife, Dr. Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth. They have two other younger children, and they live right here in Houston. Gracie’s corner videos cover everything from ABC’s counting and colors to everyday tasks, remixed nursery rhymes, days of the week, and importance of holiday. The black-owned channel debuted on June 22nd, 2020.

Eddie Robinson: Did you all run into any backlash or roadblocks? Going into this process because, you know, it, it almost sounds like it’s easy, you know, come family, go put on your own YouTube channel and you can make your own raises corner. But no, it’s very difficult work, right?

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yeah. Like, I’ll be honest, you know, there’s animation and we’ve been, you know, fortunate to have the same animator from the very beginning.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Animation is something that costs money, and so you. We’re fortunate because we’re a family that could find a way to put money towards animation. But to be honest, when he first brought the idea and I was seeing how much some of else was costing, I was like, do you really wanna do this? And to be honest, probably for over a year, you know, we were actually at this place where we were like, okay, not making any money, not getting subscribers, but we are investing a lot into this. And what would you say our first subscribers were? Like close friends and family members?

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yes. I think my top viewer was probably my mom and some, you know, relatives.

Javoris Hollingsworth: But, you know, to her point you had started out, and I would say this to any creator, it’s, it’s not easy at the beginning because you’re trying to build your audience, you’re trying to establish yourself in a certain space and yeah, like she said, with animation, it costs money. So yeah, I was, it was like almost like a labor level.

Javoris Hollingsworth: I was spinning, spinning, spinning. And she, you, She gave me the side eye a few times. I said, I'm. But she still believed in me though, and, and believed in what we were doing. And I think that was a big piece because at any point, you know, she could have easily shut it down. Like, Hey honey, this ain’t this, ain’t it.

Javoris Hollingsworth: But she, she really did believe and uh, we continue to persevere and next thing you know, we had like one or two viral videos and the rest is history.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Your first companions will be family members.

Eddie Robinson: There you go.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Then the family members will spread it out.

Eddie Robinson: Mm-hmm.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: And tell everyone, and that’s how we end up getting so many subscribers.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: But I think also when I think about like the growth of it, I think one of the important things that you know can come from this too is just kind of speaking to. Being an entrepreneur, because to be honest, this was not his first business venture.

Eddie Robinson: Oh.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: There were maybe, was this like the fourth and so like,

Javoris Hollingsworth: yeah, I tried a few things.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Kind of the importance of support from family because there were a few things that…

Eddie Robinson: Yeah.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: You know, we tried. And…

Javoris Hollingsworth: totally failed.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Totally didn’t, didn’t go so great. You know? But it speaks to the importance of like supporting people and…

Javoris Hollingsworth: just perseverance.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Encouraging them because now we have this.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah.,

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Because he, he’s right. I could have been like, you know, we’re shoveling this money here and, you know,

Eddie Robinson: not seeing anything.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: There’s no return. Like I said, it was, it was over a year, right?

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah. It was a long time. Yeah.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yeah.

Eddie Robinson: And is there, what, I mean, what is the revenue model? What, what does it look like? I mean, is there a way to make money?

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah. So now the way it’s structured, anytime you watch a video and you see like a little ad at plays.

Javoris Hollingsworth: The ads, yeah. We split with YouTube. So, YouTube gets a portion we get a portion from from that ad. Got it. And so, there’s that structure. There’s also, you know, we have merch. It’s a select amount at this point, but there’s some things in the works where we’ll have a much larger selection and it’ll be available even in retail source, which is something I didn’t even imagine, but. Again, something that’s in the works for maybe, I think Q4 of this year or Q1 of the following year. And there’s also the music, so there’s streaming revenue that comes from that across, uh, Spotify, apple Music. So it’s, it’s if done correctly and you know you got something that people truly enjoy. There are multiple ways to to, to bring in money, but again, Starting out…

Eddie Robinson: that’s, that’s what it is.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah.

Eddie Robinson: It’s that start that, that initial procurement process. Gracie, you’re a courageous young woman. Some people would be really, really fearful, you know, of getting into something like this. Where are you getting this confidence from? Where are you getting. Inspiration from to continue because this is only going to grow bigger and bigger and bigger.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: I think I get my confidence from. The both.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: But also, I mean definitely. I wouldn’t say for me because what was it, at the end of last year, she had a 1 million subscriber party where she had to get in front of hundreds of people and sing and dance. I can’t do that. like I can teach, but dancing and singing in front of people.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: So. I’m glad that I’ve maybe encouraged it, but I definitely think that she’s something special and there’s something in her.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: That allows her to be so amazing.

Eddie Robinson: That’s beautiful. I mean, I give you all kinds of kudos. Parents have said that the experts and scientists with the data on exposing children to television have really lost touch with the realities of raising a child in this day and age.

Eddie Robinson: But there are those who use technology, television, and other forms of media as a digital babysitter, so to speak, but the content on and then just walk away. Parents, what do you say to those parents who love your content, but they’re just concerned about the amount of screen time? That their children are spending, especially at such an early age.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah, I, I definitely see both sides of that as far as like not wanting to just have your kid constantly in front of a, you know, screen all day. But I’m guilty around that point during the, the pandemic where, you know, I had to be in a room on a Zoom with my students and. Needing that, that virtual babysitter to kind of help with the, the little ones.

Javoris Hollingsworth: But I also feel like it’s important that if you can put them in front of something that can help enrich their learning. That’s, I think, personally would be, that’s one of the things that we’ve been very intentional about, making sure that kids can learn basic concepts, even down to how to be respectful to others and, and also, Example too with, uh, breathing. She, she came up with the idea for her.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Oh yeah. Diaphragmatic breathing as a way to help you relax and reduce anxiety and anger. Psychologist thing, . So, but I think I agree. Like I think when we talk about learning, I think all children are different. I think the most important thing is having. Multiple methods.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: You’re using what your children, I think as long as that’s not the only thing you’re doing, it’s okay. I agree that children need. Interactions they need to have interactive things they’re doing. But I think that, you know, there’s some, there are some good things out there content wise, you know, where you know your children can learn and in a fun way, like who doesn’t wanna sing and dance, you know, to learn their numbers and letters.

Eddie Robinson: Oh, and it’s a beat.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yes.

Eddie Robinson: I mean, hello.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yes. Yes, yes.

Eddie Robinson: I mean, we’re talking about, you know, nursery rhymes and songs. Probably the 15th, 18th, 19th century. Yep. Probably coming from the English. Yeah… And you know, it’s just Jack and Jill… Humpty Dumpty.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Mm-hmm…

Eddie Robinson: I’m wondering if there’s been any educators out there who have been...

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yeah.

Eddie Robinson: Critical.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yeah.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: What’s been going on there?

Javoris Hollingsworth: You know, I’ll let mom speak on that.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yeah. I mean, so we really value educators without a doubt. You know, we are of course, educators, ourselves. We’re working in higher ed, so it’s different. We get fantastic feedback from educators, but then of course there’s some educators who.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: May not like how we do a certain thing, you know? So, like one of the videos that we had a lot of feedback from was actually our most popular song video to date, which was, this is the one with the Egypt. They were, yeah, the The Phonics song. Song, yeah. Phonics song.

Eddie Robinson: Yeah. Love that song.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: And it’s one of those things, and I think it’s because I’m, I’m so old,. Not to make myself, but it’s like I remember when I was learning the sounds, it sounded like that. And I think now there’s been new science that’s come out that’s really tried to speak to pure sounds. And so, we’ll get different feedback from educators and we’ll take it all in.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: And that’s actually one of the reasons why we put out a second song where, because with the first song, the big issue is that Gracie was singing the sounds, and I mean, you can’t have a melody without, you know, adding the,

Javoris Hollingsworth: Like the uh sounds.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yeah.

Eddie Robinson: It’s /k/, /k/, /k/, instead of ‘cuh-cuh-cuh'.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yes.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: So, the other phonic song too is the one. She doesn’t sing the sound; she just says them so they can be pure. And so, we, well, I guess wanted the educators know how we do value their input and that’s why we did that, you know? But you know, I think it makes sense, like feedback is important to any system. We’re open to it. We definitely invited and I think it just helps us to become better.

Eddie Robinson: And visually it was awesome because I remember that. I don’t know how you guys were inspired by the. Egypt visuals, but I remember Michael Jackson remember the time and it reminded me of that video from back in the day. Plus, I’m an Alpha, so I just really enjoyed that too. On another note, from a horizon standpoint, in terms of what you’re looking to do next projects for Gracie’s Corner, in terms of what would, what you’d like to see come out of it, uh, are there any sort of visions of Disney, Pixar, you know, trying to get some really big sort of production house or filmmaker…

Javoris Hollingsworth: yep.

Eddie Robinson: To consider looking at some things for Gracie’s corner.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yep. Those are all things that are definitely in discussion right now. For instance, So thus far we’ve only been doing like these short form videos where, you know, you have your two or three minute long video of whatever song, but the big vision is to transition over to making also long form versions of Gracie’s Corner, where you can see full-blown episodes and narratives where you get to find out about Gracie, what is she like, what are her pet peeves, what is her family like?

Javoris Hollingsworth: Like, so you get to see all those and you know, there can be other characters incorporated. And then that could very well carry over into a a Gracie’s Corner movie. There’s also something that is in the works as well as the live tour, which parents have been demanding big time. People really want to experience Gracie in concert, so I can’t pinpoint the exact date, but it’s coming.

Eddie Robinson: Would you be ready for that?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: I’m ready for whatever. Whatever’s coming.

Eddie Robinson: I’m Eddie Robinson and you’re listening to I SEE U. We’re chatting in studio with the family of Gracie’s Corner. The very popular YouTube Children’s channel. The online series features, videos and music clips of catchy songs and danceable rhythms recreated to educate and encourage children from diverse backgrounds.

Eddie Robinson: If you’d like to learn more about the program, be sure to check out their website at gracie’s corner tv.com.

Eddie Robinson: So, Gracie, you’ve recorded so many songs in Gracie’s Corner. Which song are you most proud of, the one that you consider to be your favorite?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: I am most proud of the Phonics Song since it’s grown so big.

Eddie Robinson: That’s the one with the Egypt, right?

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Mm-hmm…

Eddie Robinson: Okay, and that’s your favorite?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Yes.

Eddie Robinson: Oh,.

Javoris Hollingsworth: She used to say what…

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: She used to say a toothbrushing song.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah. She used to like the toothbrushing song, but it’s interesting.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: She’s done so many songs.

Eddie Robinson: It’s so many how can you count? That’s where it was like…

Graceyn Hollingsworth: It changes so many times.

Javoris Hollingsworth: And then she said this new one five little pandas jumping on the bed.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: She five little pandas jumping on the bed. One fell off and bumped his head. A yo hey pandas jumping bed.

Eddie Robinson: And that’s the one about the Humpty Dumpy is just off the chain. You’re like, Stay off the wall, but what? Stay off the wall. I mean, it is fantastic.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah.

Eddie Robinson: How do y’all come up with…

Javoris Hollingsworth: Hey Humpty.

Eddie Robinson: You came up with this?

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: We did. We were trying to do like an old school like hip-hop vibe.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah.

Eddie Robinson: Stay off the wall.

Javoris Hollingsworth: But she actually occasionally she’ll say like, hey dad, I think maybe we should try saying this.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: And I love some of the things that she adds to songs I do. Like Hokey Pokey, she’s the one that added the little,

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: yeah, she’s like, she’ll add some pretty cool things and I’ll love the things. And even Twinkle, she added something to that one too. So, she gives her feedback a lot.

Eddie Robinson: What kind of music do you listen to? Like?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Um,

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: You’ve had Alexa play a lot of songs to you. What have you told Alexa to play?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: I’ve listened to music that like. Is this just fantasy caught in the landslide? So, we escape from reality. That is Bohemian Rhapsody.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: I’m like, I’m like, I’m not versed. I’m like, what is that?

Javoris Hollingsworth: She’s. She’s into like eighties music and stuff. Yeah. This is crazy.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yeah, she has a really, just like with food, with food and music, she has a pretty diverse range of things.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Eclectic.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: No, it’s not weird.

Eddie Robinson: Not at all. Fantastic.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: I, I love that. Like the other day I walked out, I was like, you need to go in there and. And listen to what your daughter’s listening to. What was she listening to? Was it a journey song? Really old, old song.

Javoris Hollingsworth: She listens to Journey. It’s, it’s weird.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Meant, and Pharrell, she’ll go from Pharrell to Beyonce, to Michael Jackson.

Eddie Robinson: It really is fascinating what you all have accomplished as a family.

Eddie Robinson: Let me ask you this, Gracie, and we ask this to every guest that comes on our show. Since you’ve been living on this planet Earth for about 10 years now. Right. What’s something that you’ve learned about yourself thus far? What is it that you can think of when you look in the mirror and you see Graceyn Hollingsworth in that mirror reflected back?

Eddie Robinson: What can you say about the girl that you see in the mirror looking back at you?

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Unique, courageous. Goofy sometimes.

Eddie Robinson: Sweet.

Javoris Hollingsworth: That’s a pretty good description.

Eddie Robinson: Love that. Mom, same question. Of all the accomplishments that you’ve earned, that you’ve obtained, the beautiful family that you’re a part of, co-founder of Gracie’s Corner. What lessons have you learned about yourself thus far?

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Um, learned the, and this is the psychologist again.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: I’ve learned the power of the present and just trying to take every moment in. So, and you know, when you’re working so much and moving around, sometimes you get lost, but you. Kind of just be present. So that’s probably what I’ve learned is to be present more so. And the importance of that.

Eddie Robinson: And then dad, of all that, you’ve accomplished an organic chemist, founder, creator of this beautiful project called Gracie’s Corner.

Eddie Robinson: What lessons have you learned about yourself thus far?

Javoris Hollingsworth: Um, growing up I always thought it was important to try to be like perfect. But one of the things that this, this whole journey has taught me. You can’t, you can’t be perfect like it is. It is not possible. Like you, you try your best to make everyone happy and do what you know the best you can.

Javoris Hollingsworth: But for someone, you, you, you may not always hit the mark, but despite that, the most important thing is that you’re putting forth your best effort and you know, there are gonna be others that do appreciate that. And that’s pretty much been the biggest lesson for me, just understanding. You can make mistakes.

Javoris Hollingsworth: You know the thing that’s important is continuing on and doing what you love, fulfilling that purpose.

Eddie Robinson: Me being a father as well, single dad. And Gracie, if you have some ideas too, I’d love to hear them. But what are some pointers that you all can provide the audience, provide me with as it relates to black parents?

Eddie Robinson: The best way to raise children today. What would be some pointers, some tips that you can share, Gracie, first.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: To not be so focused on your work that you can’t even like take them to go eat or like to be like, hey, can we go like get ice cream and and they’re like, I have to focus on this work or either. You can’t like use them for money on YouTube.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: I wouldn’t say like, I wouldn’t say like that, but I’d say like, like using them to be like, to be like more famous or like to get like money, you have to actually love them while also doing that.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Mm-hmm., you’re right. So, I would say probably on my end, being a parent is hard. You’re going to make mistakes and that’s okay.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Only first child. I remember when she was the only first child and I was trying to do everything based on research and um, it changes of course when you get the child two and three. But what I will say is, Be, be compassionate. Be good to yourself. You don’t have to be perfect, but the one thing they need the most,

Graceyn Hollingsworth: of course, she said everyone can agree that the first child’s the best. They help you with everything. If you get the, the, the second and third child, they help you well, well with mostly everything.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Big help. That’s true. The most important thing they need is love and attention.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Even though they don’t see it.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Even though they don’t see it yeah. Tons of attention, and that is really gonna be the most important thing.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Big fan of positive affirmations. I think one of the most important things you can do is tell your children what they’re doing. Great. Tell them you’re proud of them. Just speak a whole bunch of wonderful things over them and let them know all the fantastic things they are and all the fantastic things they do. Again, psychologists talking, so.

Javoris Hollingsworth: My thing is, um…

Eddie Robinson: Yeah, you do have a black boy, uh, a son now, so I definitely wanna hear what you’ve got to say.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah. It’s, I think…

Eddie Robinson: black boy joy.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Yeah. In this present day, honestly, it’s really scary raising kids. There’s so much going on out there, um, especially from a person of color, you know, sometimes reviewed differently, you know, and it’s just going back to those lessons that we have been taught on how to approach certain situations and, and trying to instill that same knowledge in your kids. But to any parent, I would definitely say, you know, don’t beat yourselves up. You don’t have to know everything because I know sometimes we feel like we have to, going back to my original point, feel like we have to be perfect but, you know, cut yourself some slack and then also try to find a moment to have that outlet where, um, if you need to decompress a bit, cause.

Javoris Hollingsworth: Just being real parents, sometimes we, we need that break because if you don’t have that break, then you’re, you’re not gonna be as great of a parent that you could be if you were just, you know, running nonstop. So find find those occasional moments for, for Eddie and, and then I think it just makes for an even better experience.

Eddie Robinson: Yes, I can feel the love, thank you to 10-year-old Graceyn Hollingsworth and mom and Dad, Dr. Javoris Hollingsworth, and Dr. Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth. They’re all here representing Gracie’s Corner. Thank you so much for being a guest. I SEE U.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: Thank you for having me.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Thank you.

Graceyn Hollingsworth: From Gracie’s Corner.

Arlene Gordon-Hollingsworth: Yay.

Eddie Robinson: I love that.

Eddie Robinson: Our team includes technical director, Todd Hulslander, producer Laura Walker. Editors, Mark De Claudio and Johnmitchell Goode. I SEE U is a production of Houston Public Media. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen and download your favorite shows.

Eddie Robinson: I’m your host and executive producer. Eddie Robinson, and I feel you. We hear you. I SEE U. Thanks so much for listening. Until next time.


This article is part of the podcast I SEE U with Eddie Robinson

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Eddie Robinson

Eddie Robinson

Executive Producer & Host, I SEE U

A native of Mississippi, Eddie started his radio career as a 10th grader, working as a music jock for a 100,000-Watt (Pop) FM station and a Country AM station simultaneously. While Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus had nominated him for the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991, Eddie had an extreme passion...

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