Streamer BBjess Offers Gen Z a Refuge on Twitch

A place where they can feel 'seen'

Characterized by the random humor of the mid-twenty-teens jumbled with professional-level cinematography and camera control, Twitch streamer bbjess is the real deal.

Her real name is Jessica (she asked that her last name be held private), and she was brought to the platform during the pandemic after being laid off. In only a year she’s garnered a massive audience infatuated with her commitment to doing whatever she wants, whenever she wants.

bbjess on Twitch.

bbjess

"Escapism is important. If I can provide a minute or two of just you forgetting what you're going through, then that's my goal. For people to feel seen is really important to me," she said in a phone interview with Lifewire.

"During quarantine, I was in my parents' basement, and I would go weeks without talking to my family. But I would hop into a Twitch chat, and someone would say my name and smile at me...[so] I wanted to do that for people."

Between Twitch and TikTok, the streamer boasts an audience of nearly 170,000 waiting for whatever random stream she has planned for her adoring community, who she affectionately characterizes as "degenerates and underdogs." bbjess focuses on cultivating a "Tumblr dream" where all the weirdos can hang out.  

Quick Facts

  • Name: Jessica
  • Age: 26
  • Located: South Carolina   
  • Random Delight: Proud streamer! She cites her charity stream raising $20,000 for the American Cancer Society as her proudest moment as a streamer. Pride in both herself and, most importantly, her community.
  • Motto: "Whatever I want, whenever I want."

Theater Kid Energy

When you watch bbjess, something rings familiar. Then, it clicks. It's the synergy of ingenuity and happenchance that made retired YouTube personality Jenna Marbles so captivating. And it's not by accident. She cites Marbles as her greatest inspiration and (after some confusion) the inspiration for her streamer name. 

bbjess has a theater production background, and her streams are full-on theater production. Whether it's the technical control or the immaculate attention to detail down to on-screen effects, a typical bbjess stream is a fever dream.

It's a kind of stream of consciousness from a hyperactive theater kid distilled through the interactive world of live streaming and randomly hurled onto a screen. It's the greatest compliment, she admitted. 

"I definitely had that streamer moment where I'm like, what am I doing?" bbjess said. "But I had this realization binge-watching all of Jenna's videos, and I was like she never put herself in a box. She did whatever she wanted, and if she could do it, so can I."

Performing has been with her since childhood. Standing in front of her mirror pretending to be a famous singer or giving her much-deserved Oscars speech, bbjess spent hours in the realm of make-believe. A child of divorce moving between houses and dealing with newfound siblings, her siloed-off room of fantasy making was a reprieve for the young woman. 

bbjess on Twitch

bbjess

She would find theater in high school and eventually graduate with a degree in theater production and directing before becoming a streamer in a world that rewards exactly her type of personality. 

When the Trolls Toll 

It's hard to pin down bbjess' content. Even she has trouble putting it in a neat box. One element of it, however, is her insistence on owning the trolls. Long gone is the oft-too-spoken rule of "ignore the trolls." Borrowing from some of her favorite streamers like baddie and TheUncleJoeShow, she says she's attempting to subvert gendered expectations. 

"Men get to say whatever they want to people, and when they go off on a troll or put someone in their place, they're rewarded for it," she said. "But when a woman does it, or even I've seen with LGBTQ+ streamers, they get told that they're overreacting or making themselves a victim... I want to change that." 

Empowering women is part of her mission. Though there's been a bit of pushback, bbjess suggests a mass reporting of her emotes by a disgruntled troll may have been responsible for her recently overturned indefinite ban. Despite that, she says the response has been mostly positive. 

"I've had an influx of smaller women creators reach out to me saying I've inspired them to stand up for themselves...it's so humbling that...[I] can have an impact on a girl to have the confidence to stand up for herself," she said.  

"Just stand up for yourself a little bit even if you have to be your biggest fan because no one else will." 

Interconnectivity and interaction are critical for bbjess. As a child of the theater, she wants to continue finding ways to increase connection while reminding audiences of the power they have to seize their destiny. 

"I want to remind people that they have a voice. It's really hard to use your voice because sometimes people don't want to hear it," she said. "Just stand up for yourself a little bit even if you have to be your biggest fan because no one else will." 

Correction 10/27/21: Removed references to Jessica's last name for privacy at her request.

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