Dawson in 2016
Shane Lee Yaw
July 19, 1988
Long Beach, California, U.S.
|Partner(s)||Lisa Schwartz (2011–2015)|
Ryland Adams (2016–present; engaged 2019)
|Updated June 28, 2020|
Shane Lee Yaw (born July 19, 1988), known professionally as Shane Dawson, is an American YouTuber, actor, writer, comedian, director, make-up artist, and musician. He was one of the first people to rise to fame on video-sharing website YouTube, and has since maintained an online presence.
In 2008, when Dawson was nineteen years old, he joined YouTube and began making videos. He rose to fame on the site, garnering over half a billion views by 2010. Most of his early work consisted of sketch comedy videos, where Dawson would play original characters, impersonate celebrities and make light of popular culture. During this time, he also had a short-lived music career, releasing 6 original songs such as "Superluv!" and numerous parodies of popular music videos. In 2013—inspired by Howard Stern—Dawson launched his podcast, Shane and Friends, which ran for four years and produced 140 episodes. The following year, Dawson released his first and only feature film, Not Cool, and appeared on an accompanying 10-episode docu-series The Chair. He has also appeared in the films Smiley (2012) and Internet Famous (2016),
In 2015, Dawson began his conspiracy show on YouTube, a video series where he discusses a variety of conspiracy theories. They have become some of his most-viewed videos, including his 2019 web series Conspiracy Series with Shane Dawson, which is two parts in length that total over two hours. In late 2017, Dawson released his first docu-series on YouTube, in which he reconciled with his absent father. His most-viewed docu-series are about Jake Paul, Jeffree Star and TanaCon.
As of 2018, Dawson has released two New York Times best-selling books, I Hate Myselfie and It Gets Worse, and his three YouTube channels have accumulated over 6.5 billion views. Since 2017, he maintains one active channel, shane, with 22 million subscribers and over 5 billion views.
Dawson grew up in Long Beach, California, and he graduated from Lakewood High School. As a teenager, Dawson was bullied for his weight in school. He has two older brothers, Jacob Yaw (born 1980) and Jerid Yaw (born 1985). The siblings had a close relationship, and helped Dawson during these times. He has since lost 150 pounds (68 kg). He first became interested in making videos when he would turn in videos as school projects with his friends in high school. Dawson grew up in a low income household to a single mother.[unreliable source?]
2008–2010: YouTube, ShaneDawsonTV
On March 10, 2008, Dawson made his YouTube channel, called "ShaneDawsonTV". The earliest video that remains on the channel, "Kermit the Frog and Me" was uploaded about 4 months later. When he first began making videos, he worked at Jenny Craig along with his mother and brother, but was fired in August 2008 after he uploaded a video of himself pole dancing in the building he worked in. His mother, brother and about six other coworkers who appeared in the video also were fired after the company saw the video. In September, he uploaded a video called "Fred is Dead!", which has since received over 25 million views. During this time, Shane performed as a number of "drug-addled, often drunk, cultural stereotype characters" in his skits, including: "ghetto girl" Shanaynay, Ned the Nerd, gangster S-Deezy, Barb the Lesbian, Guadalupe/Fruit Lupe (a Mexican with stereotyped chola accent). Many of these rely on caricatures of persons of color and other minorities, and his use of blackface to portray Wendy Williams and Chris Brown in some of his skits led to allegations of racism (see "controversies").
Dawson occasionally posts new videos on his channel "ShaneDawsonTV" (mainly short web films, music video parodies, film trailer parodies, and original music) and formerly posted other videos on his second channel "ShaneDawsonTV2", now called "Human Emoji" however the use of this channel has mostly been discontinued as of 2012. His third and main YouTube channel, Shane, is where he previously posted vlogs, and now posts original content Mondays through Fridays. He began using this channel in May 2010. Shane often collaborates with other YouTubers or appears in their videos, such as Joey Graceffa, BrittaniLouiseTaylor, TheFineBros, Trisha Paytas, iJustine (real name Justine Ezarik), Tyler Oakley, Miranda Sings (a character created by YouTuber, comedian, singer and actress Colleen Ballinger), Sawyer Hartman, Drew Monson and others. In November 2009, Dawson was featured on Attack of the Show!. In 2010, Forbes magazine named him their 25th most famous web celebrity.
2010–13: Television pilots and music career
On August 11, 2010, Dawson announced that he was in the making of a 30-minute pilot which he will call SD High. Previously, the funding he needed for the pilot was provided by digital media group Take180 after he helped them out with acting in their own videos. The pilot is based on two videos which Dawson uploaded to his main channel in Summer 2010. The story centered around a teenage boy in school and his interactions with the other characters. The pilot's release date was set towards the end of September 2010 on his main YouTube Channel, however Dawson later announced that he had been contacted by a television studio to produce the pilot for their TV channel(s).
 According to Dawson, there is some uncertainty involving the pilot, however it may be a TV show in the future. On March 26, 2011, Dawson uploaded a video to YouTube explaining to his audience that he's working with Happy Madison Productions, Sony Pictures, and some other YouTubers including TheFineBros and BrittaniLouiseTaylor to create the television show.
In January 2012, Dawson stated in a video that he was now working on a new television show, which would be semi-based on his life working at a Weight Loss center. He stated that he would be pitching the show soon, and that he was "really excited" for it, and stated the show was "kind of like Arrested Development, but – not." On May 16, 2012, Dawson revealed in a vlog that he was working on a comedy-horror film, explaining that he wanted to write "something like a teen comedy", however that the film would be "scary and fun". Dawson revealed in November 2012 that he was in negotiations to direct a feature-length film. In 2012, Dawson revealed in a vlog that he was working on a music project. In March 2012, Dawson revealed that his debut mainstream single, "SUPERLUV!" would be released that month. The song was released on March 31, 2012, on iTunes, with an accompanying music video debuting on his YouTube channel on the same day. The song managed to chart at 87 in Ireland, 16 on the UK Indie Chart, 163 on the UK Singles Chart and reached the 28th spot on the US iTunes Pop Chart.
On May 8, 2012, Dawson revealed in a video that he has begun working on his next original song, which is tentatively titled "The Vacation Song". He previewed about 10 seconds of the "rough edit" of the song, and stated that he was going to change the mood of the song, saying, "Right now, it's a little too happy, because it's a break up song. I want it to be more like Kelly Clarkson's 'Since U Been Gone'." He stated that the song would "hopefully" be released by the beginning of June 2012. The song was released on June 23, 2012, with the music video being released a week later. In October 2012, a film called Smiley was released to theaters starring Dawson. In December, Dawson released a new single entitled "Maybe This Christmas". On February 5, 2013, Dawson recorded a single titled "F**K Up". The song was released on YouTube and iTunes on March 30, 2013. On October 18, 2013, Dawson released a song entitled "Wanna Make Love To You", with Liam Horne. Dawson doesn't actually provide vocals to the song, but iTunes credits him as one of the artists.
2013–2016: Shane and Friends, The Chair, and books
In June 2013, Dawson started a podcast entitled Shane and Friends. As of 2013, Dawson revealed that he is pitching a talk show and is continuing to pitch the series about him working at a weight loss center. On November 12, 2013, Dawson announced that he was developing the weight loss center project with Sony Pictures Television for NBC. The project has been titled Losin' It and, if picked up, will be a half-hour single camera comedy series focusing on a successful former-client at a weight loss center who decides to share his inspiration by becoming a consultant at the center, and subsequently becomes the manager by the end of his first day. Darlene Hunt, Will Gluck, Richie Schwartz, Lauren Schnipper, and Dawson will serve as executive producers for the project.
On April 4, 2014, Dawson announced that he had directed and starred in a comedy film in Pittsburgh earlier that year. The film, which was made on a $800,000 budget, was released September 19, 2014. On June 26, he announced that the film would be titled Not Cool. It was part of a Starz original series called The Chair, in which two novice directors are given the same script and must each make their own film from it. People who watched both films then voted online to vote for the films. Not Cool competed against Anna Martemucci's Holidaysburg. Zachary Quinto, producer of The Chair, called Dawson's film "deeply offensive" and "tasteless", and that Dawson should not be making films at all, removing his name from the film in disgust. Dawson defended his film by saying that "I like the movie. The producers that I trust like the movie. The test audience liked the movie. I know I deserve to make a movie because I've been working my fucking ass off these last eight years on YouTube." Dawson won the competition, winning the $250,000 prize to work on another film project.
In December 2014, Dawson released a parody of Taylor Swift's song "Blank Space" on YouTube. This video was found to be in poor taste by her labels, Big Machine Records and Sony, who removed it, citing "copyright infringement". Dawson subsequently claimed that the parody was removed because Sony objected to the video's violent content. The video was restored in February 2015.
2017–present: YouTube series
In 2017, the focus of Dawson's channel has shifted to include a wider variety of video genres such as extended vlogs, conspiracy theory videos and documentary-style series where he collaborates with other YouTubers like fiancé Ryland Adams, Garrett Watts, Morgan Adams, Tana Mongeau, James Charles, Drew Monson, Andrew Siwicki, Trisha Paytas and Bunny Meyer.
In June 2018, Shane uploaded a three-part documentary series titled The Truth About TanaCon, about the TanaCon convention, the company who organised the event—Good Times—and the effects the disastrous event had on fans. The series received tens of millions of views in one week and garnered significant media attention. In August 2018, Shane continued the documentary format and covered makeup artist Jeffree Star in a five-part series titled The Secret World of Jeffree Star and also received high amounts of media attention Dawson interviews and experiences a day in the life with Internet celebrity, makeup artist, model, entrepreneur, and singer-songwriter Jeffree Star, learning about his business Jeffree Star Cosmetics. In September 2018, Shane covered Youtuber Jake Paul in an eight-part series titled The Mind of Jake Paul. The series follows Dawson's investigation on the lifestyle of Paul, including research with licensed therapist Katie Morton on antisocial personality disorder. Later in the series, Dawson is invited into the Team 10 house, and interviews Jake about his controversial career. Dawson was criticized for his documentaries The Mind of Jake Paul and The Secret World of Jeffree Star, with some arguing that Dawson was too sympathetic towards the racism scandals of both subjects.
In January and February 2019, Shane released a two-part series on conspiracy theories titled Conspiracy Series with Shane Dawson. The first part included theories on the Apple FaceTime glitch, deepfakes, subliminal messages in cartoons, Hollister, Walt Disney, the Woolsey Fire and Camp Fire. The second part featured Dawson investigating further topics, exploring the wider message "don't believe everything you see", including Adobe Voco voice manipulation, and Chuck E. Cheese pizzas. Dawson has been criticized for his conspiracy theory content, as some feel that his videos about the flat Earth, moon landing hoax, and 9/11 hoax conspiracy theories, among others, contribute to YouTube's widespread issues with misinformation. In July 2019, Dawson returned to YouTube for a one-hour long documentary video titled The Return of Eugenia Cooney about Internet personality Eugenia Cooney. Earlier in the year, Cooney announced that she would be taking a break from social media to focus on her health.
In October 2019, Dawson released The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star, which follows Dawson and Star as they plan and design a new makeup and merchandise collection called The Conspiracy Collection.
Dawson lives in Calabasas, California with his fiancé, Ryland Adams. The two became engaged on March 19, 2019. Dawson has body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). In July 2015, Dawson came out as bisexual in a video posted on Shane Dawson TV. This announcement also confirmed his separation with his now ex-girlfriend, Lisa Schwartz.
Dawson has been criticized for his racial comedy, particularly his use of blackface in several old skits, his use of the word "nigga" in one video, and his jokes about "ghetto pranks" at VidCon in 2012. In September 2014, YouTuber Franchesca Ramsey and other bloggers criticized Dawson for his past actions. He later apologized for the jokes in a video, stating that he viewed the controversy as a "learning experience".
In 2018, Dawson was the subject of a controversy regarding comments he had made about pedophilia on a 2014 episode of his podcast Shane and Friends, in which he published an apology video likening his comedic style at the time to that of shock jocks. The same comments were also the subject of a March 2019 controversy, coupled with controversy regarding comments he had made on a 2015 episode of the same podcast about engaging in sexual activity with his cat.
Dawson's past controversies resurfaced in June 2020. In response, he posted a 20-minute video on June 26, 2020, titled "Taking Accountability", in which he addressed renewed criticism for his use of blackface, the N-word and other offensive comments he made since launching his YouTube channel. Although he had apologized publicly before, Dawson claimed he had only recently realized how "those apologies suck", stating "I don't know who that person is anymore", and further remarking how he "should have been punished for things" and to "finally just own up to all of this and be accountable is worth losing everything to me". Dawson also apologized to James Charles, whom he had described as "egocentric" and "power hungry" just a week before. Dawson concluded his apology video by vowing to better his "actions", but said he understands if people do not want to accept his apology or no longer support him. He also claimed that he dealt with the pain from his childhood by making inappropriate jokes: "It is something I did for shock value or because I thought it was funny. It's all gross and I promise that that is not real; that is not me". Hours after his apology was posted, musician Jaden Smith accused Dawson of sexualizing his sister Willow Smith, expressing how he was "disgusted" after an old video resurfaced of Dawson appearing to touch himself in a sexual manner while looking at a poster of a then 11-year-old Willow Smith. Jaden and Willow's mother Jada Smith also responded, tweeting "To Shane Dawson ... I'm done with the excuses."
On June 29, Target announced that it was "in the process of removing" Dawson's two published books I Hate Myselfie and It Gets Worse from its shelves. On June 30, YouTube indefinitely suspended monetization on all three of Dawson's channels.
- Hot Teens Gone Wild on Degrassi! Part 1 – November 21, 2009 (11-minute-long special)
- Hot Teens Go Wild on Degrassi! Part 2 – March 6, 2010 (12-minute-long special)
- SD High: School Dance Disaster – July 3, 2010 (SD High Episode 1) (8-minute-long special)
- SD High: High School Drama – July 31, 2010 (SD High Episode 2) (9-minute-long special)
- Haunted House Party – October 30, 2010 (Interactive Halloween special)
- Shane Dawson's Love Story – December 18, 2010 (10-minute-long Christmas special)
- SD High: Teens Gone Wild – March 26, 2011 (SD High Episode 3) (7-minute-long special)
- Friends 4Ever – October 29, 2011 (22-minute-long Halloween short film)
- How Shananay Stole Christmas – December 17, 2011 (15-minute-long Christmas special)
- Shane & Friends Halloween Special – October 20, 2012 (7-minute-long Halloween special)
- Emo Love Story – May 3, 2013 (11-minute-long special)
- I Hate Myselfie – March 2, 2015 (13-minute-long short film)
- I Hate Myselfie 2 – August 7, 2015 (16-minute-long short film)
- It Gets Worse – July 19, 2016 (21-minute-long short film)
- The Lottery – December 12, 2016 (16-minute-long short film)
|2011||Friends 4 Ever||Amy||Short film|
|2011||How Shananay Stole Christmas||Shananay||Short film|
|2014||Not Cool||Scott||Also director, producer, and editor|
|2015||I Hate Myselfie||Himself||Short film|
|2015||Viral Video 2||Himself||Short film; cameo appearance|
|2015||I Hate Myselfie 2||Himself||Short film|
|2016||Internet Famous||Tomas "The Parody Boss"|
|2016||It Gets Worse: Short Film||Himself||Also director|
|2016||The Lottery: Short Film||Narrator / Himself||Also director|
|2012||The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange||Christmas Past / Popcorn||2 episodes|
|2014||The Chair||Himself||10 episodes|
|2010||BlackBoxTV Presents||Himself||Episode: Let Her Die!|
|2011||Corey & Lucas for the Win!||Himself||2 episodes|
|2016||Escape the Night||The Renegade||Main role; YouTube Red series: 1 episode|
|2018||The Truth About Tanacon||Himself||3 episodes|
|2018||The Secret World of Jeffree Star||Himself||5 episodes|
|2018||The Mind of Jake Paul||Himself||8 episodes|
|2019||Conspiracy Series with Shane Dawson||Himself||2 episodes|
|2019||The Return of Eugenia Cooney||Himself||1 episode|
|2019–2020||The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star||Himself||8 episodes|
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions|
(featuring Eric Stuff Production)
|"The Vacation Song"||—||—||—|
|"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Spoof)"
(featuring Wendy McColm)
|"High School: The Rap"||—||—||—|
|"Maybe This Christmas"||—||—||—|
|2013||"I Knew You Were Trouble – Spoof"
(featuring Wendy McColm)
|"82 (Spoof of 22 By Taylor Swift)"
(featuring Wendy McColm)
|"Wrecking Ball Spoof"
(featuring Kristin Findley)
|"This Christmas Life"||—||—||—|
|2014||"Blank Space Parody"||—||—||—|
|2017||"You Didn't Glow Up"
(featuring Ryland Adams)
|"—" denotes a recording that failed to chart or was not released in that territory|
Awards and nominations
|2010||Streamy Awards||Best Vlogger||Himself||Won|||
|2010||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Web Star||Won|||
|2011||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Web Star||Nominated|||
|2017||People's Choice Awards||Favorite YouTube Star||Nominated|||
|2017||Streamy Awards||Creator of the Year||Nominated|||
|Best First Person Channel||Nominated|
|2018||Streamy Awards||Collaboration||"Switching Lives With A Blind Person", with Molly Burke||Nominated|||
|Creator of the Year||Himself||Won|||
|Documentary||The Truth About Tanacon||Won|
|Editing||The Truth About Tanacon, with Andrew Siwicki||Won|
|2018||People's Choice Awards||The Social Star of 2018||Himself||Won|||
|2019||The Shorty Awards||Youtuber of the Year||Himself||Won|||
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