The Wall Street Journal

McClure Twins Family: What It's Like to Raise Social Media Stars

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Ami and Justin McClure run a popular family YouTube channel that features their twin daughters, Alexis and Ava, and their infant son, Jersey. WSJ's Julie Jargon visits the McClures at their home in New Jersey to learn about the challenges of parenting while vlogging.

Photo Illustration: Alexander Hotz/The Wall Street Journal.

#WSJ #McClureTwins


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… show captions ↓
- It's not that we want to make the video funny,
it's because that's what we are!
- [Julie] (laughs) You're just--
- That's what we do.
- [Julie] It is, in fact, what these two do.
Meet Ava and Alexis, they're five-year-old identical twins.
They're also YouTube celebrities,
and this is the rest of the McClure Family.
Their YouTube channel, McClure Twins Family,
boasts more than 1.3 million subscribers
and their videos reliably net
hundreds of thousands of views, and they're not alone.
In recent years, professional family vlogging has become
increasingly common and lucrative.
Ava and Alexis' parents, Ami and Justin,
are doing so well, in fact, that they quit their jobs
to make YouTube and Facebook videos of their kids full-time.
Hello, I'm Julie.
- Hi, Julie, it's nice to meet you.
- I'm curious to know what drives people
to share their lives on social media
and what happens when things don't go as planned.
To find out, I've come to meet the McClures
at their production studio, also known as their family home.
- Take my hand.
- I would love to. (group laughing)
This is beautiful!
- [Ami] Welcome to their room.
(winding key crunching)
- Wow! (Ami chuckling)
Was there a moment when you realized
that they'd be good on camera?
- I don't think there was any one moment that it happened.
It just seemed like it was natural for them.
- [Julie] Do they ever surprise you
with the answers they give?
- All day long.
I always say the best stuff is not on camera.
- Ava has the same birthday.
- [Ami] You do have the same birthday.
- [Julie] Ami and Justin first realized
the potential of their daughters
when this video went viral in 2016.
- [Ami] Does she look like your face?
- Yes!
- [Ami] Yes!
(both laughing)
- Well, it did put you into a place
where you're like we gotta figure out what we're doing,
because this is snowballing.
- [Julie] Recognizing the twins' potential,
the McClures began building
their positive lifestyle family brand,
which today includes four different YouTube channels.
How much do you make between all these different channels?
- If you look on YouTube,
I think our average there is $12,000 a month.
If you look at Facebook, it's probably about the same.
If you get brand deals, then those brand deals
I think the minimum that we get is $5,000 for an Instagram.
- [Julie] The McClures told me they're doing so well
that they were both able to quit their jobs,
which they said each paid six figures.
So what does the day-to-day life
of a vlogging family look like?
- [Justin] Okay, girls, can we go and get the intro?
- What you're watching is they're getting ready
to shoot a video of how well the parents know the kids.
- What is your favorite part?
- It's the one, remember that one?
(Ami laughing)
- Remember that one?
Remember that one? - What is it called again?
- [Julie] It's a lot of work, and then they have
to keep the girls focused and on-task,
because they're little girls and they get distracted
and they wanna play.
- How well do you think our mom and dad did?
Well, I think they did
terrible. (Justin laughs)
- We can still hear you! - Ah, terrible!
- Why do you think your channel is so popular?
Why do you think people like watching your videos so much?
- Um, because. - Because we're funny.
- And they're interesting.
- We're just a great family, that's why.
(pleasant orchestral music)
- Did you have debates between yourselves
about whether this was good for them
in terms of, you know, they don't have the ability
to consent to this.
This is something you're having them do,
and they don't really understand what it is.
- Yeah, I think that was probably the hot topic,
the biggest debate that we had back and forth
after this virality was what do we do
and not even just what do we do,
but are we doing something okay.
Are the kids going to be okay?
Is this right for them?
Sometimes people just have something,
and we believe the girls have something,
and, you know, it's like Tiger Woods.
He just had something with golf.
His dad, when he was three or four, when did he start?
Didn't say, okay, you're good,
but just go swing the ball, leave me alone.
He nurtured that.
(pleasant guitar music)
- [Julie] But with fame comes scrutiny.
Last summer, tweets Justin made years before
about black people,
and black women in particular, surfaced online.
The scandal led to some bad press for the family
and to a moment of reckoning for Justin.
In response, they did what any YouTuber would do,
make a video about it.
- Do you understand that those statements
very well could have come from the mouth of
someone spewing racist hate?
- I know I'm not a racist,
but I look at the things that I said,
and would a racist person say those things?
They would.
- [Julie] The exposure of his past tweets
could have been the McClure's downfall,
but Justin turned it into an opportunity for redemption.
- Those tweets came when I was still a drunk
or when I had first gotten sober and I was trying
to figure out, you know, what my life was all about.
I was still doing stand-up.
- It got a lot of publicity.
- Bad publicity.
- I don't know--
- It wasn't good publicity.
- [Julie] Yeah.
- Listen, I owned up to it.
They were bad jokes.
They were not anything I would say now.
- The McClures underwent more scrutiny when it came out
on social media that Justin
isn't the twins biological father,
something the McClures said they were planning
to go public with when the time was right.
- Everybody makes mistakes.
You grow, hopefully, as a person, and you move forward,
but just that, because it's so,
now I'm about to cry,
it's so special and, like, close and it's a beautiful story.
That is really what we wanted to share
and that being taken away from us
is the thing that, you know, bothers me the most.
(Ami chuckling)
- Jazzy! - Yes!
- After spending the day with the McClures,
I understood how seriously they take this family business,
but I couldn't help wonder
about the precariousness of it all.
What if they come to you someday,
whether it's a year from now, five years from now,
and say, we don't wanna do this anymore,
or one of them doesn't wanna do it, the other one does.
- Then we don't do it anymore.
- Okay.
(girls chattering)
- [Justin] If they don't wanna do it,
then we don't wanna do it.
- Lexi, do it for real, don't hurt your sister.
You know, they're such sweet little girls,
and that comes across in everything they do,
but it's our job as parents also
to let them know that you can't lose yourself,
and I don't want them to now feel
like they have no control of their own life,
so that's a balance that we're walking every day.
(expressive mallet percussion and orchestral music)

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