A teenager who used to be so shy she avoided parties and could not speak in class has become an internet star through her YouTube channel.
Emma Pickles, 18, found courage after years of struggling with crippling social anxiety after posting makeup tutorial videos online.
More than 1.5 million people have watched her transform herself into everything from movie characters Edward Scissorhands and X-Men’s Mystique to pop star Katy Perry and terrifying monsters
Emma, from Halifax, Yorkshire used to be controlled by her shyness which prevented her from speaking in front of people and caused her to shun social events.
Two years ago, her social anxiety got so bad she stopped answering questions at school and after her work suffered she began seeing a counsellor.
Emma said: ‘I wouldn’t leave the house without putting on a full face of makeup and I even panicked at answering my phone.
‘When a teacher asked me a question in class I used to go bright red and start shaking all over.
‘When I would go to the cinema I even found it hard to ask for a ticket. I don’t know why, there is no reason but I was scared.’
Queen of YouTube: The formerly shy teen turned into the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland for her first video which she posted a year ago
But when she began posting her videos, Emma gained new confidence and her incredible makeup tutorials are now followed by thousands of loyal fans who subscribe to her channel.
She says she feels more comfortable speaking to people online and that she has YouTube to thank for her new self-assurance.
‘I’ve achieved so much through YouTube and having to speak in front of a camera has given me a lot more confidence.
‘It’s really weird that so many people have subscribed to my channel. I had no idea it would go this well but it’s so nice.
‘I even met my boyfriend through YouTube.’
Changing faces: Emma’s YouTube videos sees her take on zombies and Roy Lichtenstein style pop-art
She said: ‘As a child I was fascinated by the power makeup has to transform a person.
‘In the beginning I was so bad at it. I’d just throw on my mum’s mascara and end up looking like raccoon.
‘But then I started spending my pocket money on makeup and I realized I could do mine better than the other girls at school.
‘I hated the bags under my eyes so I would use my mum’s concealer to cover them up.
‘I felt like I had big nose – so I soon discovered techniques to make it look smaller.’
No laughing matter: After she has finished with the prosthetics for the Joker’s scar Emma applies the paint
Five years ago, aged 13, Emma discovered theatrical makeup tutorials online.
She said: ‘I saw a video tutorial of how to do the Edward Scissorhands look and I gave it a go.
‘It sounds big headed but I realised I had a natural talent for it and I became hooked.
‘While friends were going out to parties at the weekend, I was at home making myself into vampires and werewolves. My favourite looks are the creepy ones – but because of my social anxiety I’ve never even been to a Halloween party.’
Last year Emma posted her first video on YouTube after being encouraged by her boyfriend Brad Smith, 26, whom she met at a YouTube meet-up three years ago.
She said: ‘I really enjoyed trying out make-up look but I’d never thought of posting my own tutorial. I was terrified.
‘But Brad encouraged me and I uploaded a video of me turning myself in to the Queen of Hearts.
‘I had 400 subscribers to start with and I was so scared they weren’t going to like it. After posting it I was glued to my computer, watching the comments come in.
‘Thankfully, most of the comments were really positive. People were saying how talented I was and it felt so nice. It gave my confidence a boost.’
Emma’s videos have not just turned her life around – they have given a confidence boost to other young girls.
She said: ‘Now I get mail from teenage girls thanking me for boosting their confidence with my videos.
‘I even got one from one girl who said I’d inspired her to get in to makeup. It’s great because I really want to help people and I want to teach.’
Now Emma’s channel has become so successful she makes a living from it.
YouTube guidelines means Emma cannot reveal how much money she makes from her channel, but admits it is enough to pay her bills and visit boyfriend Brad in London twice a month.
Emma plans to move out of the house she shares with her mother, Liz, 47, and younger brother, Matthew, 13, on the back of her success.
In the future she hopes to do makeup for film and TV – and at Halloween she was asked to do make-up for a Halloween party hosted by Google.
She said: ‘Me and mum are best of friends and it will be hard moving out. But she’s always supported me and is pleased to see my confidence growing and growing.
‘I’ll never give up my YouTube channel – it’s turned my life around.
‘It’s opened up a whole new world for me and given me lots of opportunities.
‘I’ve achieved so much – all because YouTube.’