Who is James Charles and what is going on in the online beauty-influencer community?
Over the weekend, drama erupted between the 19-year-old YouTuber-slash-model and his former mentor, 37-year-old Tati Westbrook, a YouTuber and owner of a beauty supplement company.
With Charles, once touted as one of the most influential makeup artists on the video platform, losing 3 million subscribers over the weekend and more and more people echoing Westbrook’s scathing accusations, here is everything you need to know about the unfolding feud:
Charles of Bethlehem, New York, began his YouTube channel with a focus on beauty and makeup in December 2015. He quickly shot to fame in 2016 when he became the first male ambassador for CoverGirl.
Despite a career more-or-less plagued with controversy, including an offensive tweet about Africa and Ebola for which he apologized soon after, Charles was loved both in the YouTube community and among celebrities. Charles has worked closely with Katy Perry, did makeup for Kylie Jenner and appeared in Iggy Azalea’s music video in March. He also attended the Met Gala in New York City this year.
But last Saturday, Charles is believed to have become the first YouTuber to lose a million subscribers in 24 hours.
Westbrook of Los Angeles is most famous for her YouTube channel, Tati, which she began in 2010. Previously to pursuing her public image full time, she was an image consultant and a makeup artist.
She also claims she and her husband have mentored Charles since the beginning of his career, helping him reach a wider audience and aiding him with legal contracts to help him gain the most leverage.
The pair have been good friends over the years and supported each other’s careers and sponsored post products. When Westbrook married her husband in 2017, she paid for Charles to do her makeup and flew him out to attend her wedding.
How did the feud begin?
Tensions rose between Westbrook and Charles when the teen MUA attended Coachella seemingly sponsored by his mentor’s rival, SugarBearHair, a claim that Charles denies. Westbrook had reportedly asked Charles if he would support her brand Halo Beauty in the past and respected his rejection.
Shortly after a quick promotional video was released for the rival product, Westbrook posted a clip to Instagram in which she says she felt “betrayed” by an unnamed person.
Charles responded quickly by posting his own statement to Instagram Stories, in which he said: “I want to publicly apologize to my close friend, Tati. She has been like a mother to me since my first days in this industry and has given me more love, support, resources and advice than I could ever ask for.
“This weekend I did an Instagram Story for sleep vitamins that I’ve been taking because the brand helped me with security when the crowd around me at Coachella became unsafe. I did not accept any money from this post,” he concluded.
Despite the apology, there continued to be chatter around the topic from other YouTubers.
Westbrook also continued to post cryptic messages on social media, seemingly surrounding the topic.
How did it blow up?
On Friday, May 10, Westbrook posted a 43-minute long video titled “BYE SISTER …” explaining her side of the situation and why she no longer considers Charles a good friend of hers.
“My relationship with James Charles is not transactional. I have not asked him for a penny. I have never been on his Instagram,” Westbrook says. “It was about being lied to and feeling disrespected.”
She even went on to discuss his immaturity and alleged behavior toward men who were not heeding his sexual advances.
“You tried to trick a straight man into thinking he’s gay yet again and somehow, you’re the victim? It’s really disgusting to manipulate someone’s sexuality,” Westbrook says in the video. “You are using your fame, your power, your money to play with peoples’ emotions."
The beauty community quickly weighed in, with other influencers tweeting their own responses shortly after.
“Everything Tati said is 100 percent true,” said Charles’ former friend Jeffree Star in a now-deleted tweet.
PewDiePie, however, retorted, “It doesn’t seem impossible that this was a mistake.”
Charles followed up with his own apology the next day in an eight-minute video titled “tati.”
“To Tati and James Westbrook [Tati's husband], I’m sorry for everything that is going on and everything that I’ve put you through over the past few weeks,” he said. “I’ve learned the hard way about ways that I can interact with boys that I’m interested in and also ones that I should or shouldn’t be talking to. This is a situation I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with and it’s something that I should have been far more careful with bringing into the public eye.
“Coincidence enough, Tati was one of the people to sit me down and tell me how it looked form the outside and let me know, ‘Hey, talking to these boys may get you into trouble one day,’” Charles continued. “And she was right.”
But by the time his apology came, Charles had already lost nearly a million followers, and his subscriber count continued falling over the rest of the weekend as Westbrook’s subscriber-count rose.
The Kardashian-Jenner clan, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Shawn Mendes are among the celebrities that also unfollowed Charles.
Charles has not yet responded to InsideEdition.com's request for comment.
To watch the rise and decline of Charles' follower count in real-time, click here.