Colleen Ballinger was in vocal school and YouTube was in its infancy when Miranda Sings was born, a tone-deaf and obnoxious character now featured in the Netflix show Haters Back Off.
Ballinger has amassed millions of fans through her vlogs of the character, who is equal parts rude and untalented. Ballinger now has a chance to share Miranda with a much wider audience, and is poised to become a breakout star herself.
Ballinger, a YouTube vlogger, said Miranda was inspired by some of the actual people in her class.
“I saw all these mean, snooty girls in my classes,” Ballinger told AdWeek, “so Miranda is really based on those girls. She was a way for me to poke fun at them.”
“She’s very confident in her lack of talent,” Ballinger added.
Ballinger has helped Miranda Sings make the leap from YouTube to Netflix, taking her audience of millions of subscribers and expanding the character into a full-length show. It has debuted to strong reviews, with the Guardian saying that Colleen Ballinger finds a way to make the Miranda Sings character thrive in the expanded format offered by Netflix.
“What Haters Back Off does is allow us to see not just Miranda and how she behaves while vlogging but the unique circumstances that created her and abet her totally misplaced entitlement,” the review noted.
Colleen Ballinger and her brother, Christopher, are co-writers on the show and developed the characters around Miranda Sings.
For a character who had up to this point only appeared on YouTube, it was quite a change. But Ballinger said expanding the Miranda Sings character and adding a supporting cast in Haters Back Off makes for a more well-rounded show.
“We’ve only been able to show a little bit of Miranda at a time online,” she told AdWeek. “Now we get to show why she is the way she is. I’m hoping the audience, or fans, will connect with her on a deeper level. We’ve never seen her show any vulnerability or true emotions before! That’s huge for this character.”
As she was building her YouTube subscribers into the millions, it was one fan in particular who helped Ballinger get her big break — Jerry Seinfeld’s teenage daughter, Sacha.
The girl, who was 13 at the time, fell in love with Miranda Sings and showed her father. Jerry decided to take a big step, inviting the largely unknown Ballinger to appear on an episode of his web show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Jerry later told Vulture what he saw in Colleen Ballinger and her Miranda Sings character.
“Well, I remember sitting in my daughter’s room. She said, ‘Hey, you want to see something funny?’ I said, ‘Okay.’ And she hands me her phone, and it’s this video of Miranda responding to hate-mail. I mean, she was just laughing and laughing at this and said, ‘You’ve got to see this.’ I said, ‘Is this something that you and your friend watch?’ She said, ‘Yeah, it’s really popular.’ I watched it, and I laughed, and I didn’t think that much more about it. And then she would say, ‘You want to see another one?’ And I would watch another one. I started to see that there was a very well-developed character there, and a very talented performer. I became very interested in that it was just as funny to me as it was to my daughter, who is 13. Normally I’m not a big fan of the crap that they watch, but this was really making me laugh. I’ve been around a bit, and I can tell when someone’s really funny. This was on a different level comedically for me.”
Jerry helped push Miranda Sings beyond his show, inviting Ballinger’s character to appear on The Tonight Show, where they teamed up to play Pictionary against Jimmy Fallon and Martin Short.
It was Seinfeld who helped Colleen Ballinger develop the character into a show, which became Haters Back Off. But now it is Ballinger moving into the spotlight on her own, poised to become a breakout star.
[Featured Image by Netflix]