Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each creator has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments here.
Plenty of kids want to be just like their dads.
That’s where Rogan Drew started.
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Rogan–perhaps better known by his YouTube channel name Rowdy Rogan–used to watch his dad, Harry Drew, play video games. The way he describes it, Harry and wife Kayla Drew say, is that he used to “sit by Dad and watch his fingers.” And through all that watching, they say, he was memorizing exactly what Harry was doing on a keyboard or controller to make his characters perform the way he wanted them to.
So, when Rogan, who’s now 8, first picked up his own controller, he pretty much had things down pat.
“Within minutes, his mechanics were there,” Kayla tells Tubefilter. “He always pretended to play with a controller. Then when he was three, almost four, Harry turned it on and within minutes, his mechanics were there.”
Harry and Kayla couldn’t believe how accomplished he was, particularly at shooter games like Call of Duty. So, they started posting videos of his skills on the internet.
At first, nothing happened. But then, one night, Harry and Kayla were awoken by a flood of notifications. FaZe Clan had noticed Rogan’s channel and posted a clip saying they thought he had the potential to “make millions” by playing games.
That may very well be true. Rogan, who’s 8 years old now, just hit 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube (with his channel managed by his parents), and is already eyeing a potential future in esports.
Check out our chat with Harry and Kayla below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: For anybody who’s reading this and isn’t familiar with Rogan or your channel, can you give me a little bit of background about you and your family?
Harry Drew: It’s Rogan’s channel, originally started to let the world see how good he was at video games for his age. Just to give you a little bit more backstory about Kayla and I, obviously, Kayla and I have been together for a long time. We’ve been together since 2008. We have a 12-year-old daughter. She’s about to be 13, and along came Rogan, 8. We just fell into this naturally. After Rogan, Kayla became a stay-at-home mom. I was working covering the whole West Coast, a regional position, and about 2019, the middle of 2019…
Kayla Drew: You always played video games, just not as a streamer. He always has played video games his whole life, not as a content creator, just with his friends to turn his mind off, and Rogan always gravitated towards it. Then it wasn’t until your friends that watched streamers that were like, “Dude, no, Rogan’s good.” Harry was like, “No, he’s just a kid. He’s a sponge. Kids learn fast.” But they’re like, “No, dude, Rogan’s really, really good.”
Then Harry spent hours on YouTube, on the internet, just trying to find a four- or five-year-old that’s doing what Rogan was doing. All you could find was kids staring up at the sky. If you gave me a controller, that’s probably what I would do. I don’t know what to do. You know what I mean? Harry said that was never Rogan. Within minutes, his mechanics were there. He always pretended to play with a controller. Then when he was three, almost four, Harry turned it on for real and said within minutes, his mechanics were there. He knew how to reload, and do all the things.
We’ve always asked Rogan like, “How did you learn how to play?” He always says, “I used to sit by my dad and I used to watch his fingers all the time.” That being said, his memory is crazy.
Harry Drew: Middle of 2019, I decided to order a PC, and just start teaching myself everything. I’d never edited a video before that. I never watched Twitch or stream or even really YouTube. Gaming was just always my escape from reality. I just started doing a bunch of research, and taught myself everything, and editing all of our own videos at first. Just just kept growing. You know what I mean?
Kayla Drew: In July 2020, we just thought, “Maybe we’re onto something.” You couldn’t find anything else. What Rogan was doing was not out there at all. You guys [Harry and Rogan] streamed for a long time and would do videos. He would stay home, late nights, weekends, and just try to work on videos and streaming. They’d have three to five viewers. It was a long time, and it wasn’t until…When?
Harry Drew: April 2020 was when one of his first clips went viral.
Kayla Drew: I remember Harry woke me up in the middle of the night and he was like, “Oh my god, something’s happening. Something’s happening.” It was just notification after notification.
Tubefilter: What video was that?
Kayla Drew: It’s a Twitter clip where he’s using [FaZe] Swagg’s class, where Swagg just won a Warzone tournament. It was two guns.
Harry Drew: It was actually one on Instagram that blew up right before. It’s called Gamers Doing Things. They posted a clip. They were like, “This kid’s going to make millions one day.” From there, Bleacher Report picked it up, posted that same one. Then there was Barstool Gaming, posted it that same day as well too. Three different major pages on Instagram posted it. Then that next day Twitter started to go crazy when Swag and some of the other guys started getting involved.
Kayla Drew: FaZe Apex reached out, Swagg reached out, Aiden, they all commented on it. It was crazy. Then after that, it was just pedal to the metal. We just kept going and then just watched what other gamers were doing, and just said, “Okay. If they can do it, why can’t we do it,” sort of thing. Then it was still mid-COVID. A lot of people hate on COVID all they want, but for us, it was a blessing in disguise.
Harry Drew: It was a terrible situation. Obviously, COVID was a terrible situation, but for us–
Kayla Drew: You were home, the kids were home. We were all home, and we took advantage of that. We capitalized on it.
Tubefilter: Do you remember when things started taking off on YouTube?
Kayla Drew: April 2020.
Harry Drew: Before that, I would lay in bed every night, and just network two, three hours every night. Just network, send Rogan’s clips to people, or even do research about esports managers, and try to reach out, and try to find other management companies, people to just get guidance from, all what to do with the situation. I came across one guy, and he gave me some inside scoop about what to do to be successful on YouTube.
He said, “It’s going to be a grind. You’re not going to see any revenue for it, but if you could stick this out, it’ll pay off.” I remember we were in Hawaii on vacation with the family. I’m in the resort, in the room, posting YouTube videos, not making any revenue from it, just trying to stay to this format that eventually got us to where we were at.
Kayla Drew: YouTube likes to see it like a TV show: post the same time, the same days of the week, and stay consistent. That was probably the hardest thing for us to do, because you have a five-year-old. [chuckles] We tried our best, and for…I want to say for 18 months, we did that. We did three videos a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday at the same time for a long time. I was making the thumbnails, he was editing the videos. It wasn’t until a year later where we got help.
Harry Drew: Editing help and stuff.
Kayla Drew: Editing help. And we were just watching other channels. Then that’s when we started getting involved. I would play with Rogan, [Harry would] play with Rogan, his sister would come in. Then we would do little vlogs, because kids would be like, “Oh, he needs to touch grass or something, not play.” We’re going to vlog, or we’re going to show him playing football, because he’s a very, very active kid.
Tubefilter: That makes sense.
Harry Drew: People look at our channels and our pages and stuff and assume that Rogen just plays video games because of how good he is. That’s actually so far from how he’s playing.
Kayla Drew: Rogan doesn’t practice. Or he doesn’t…
Harry Drew: He does practice, but it’s just not on a schedule. There’s no like, “Hey, we’re going to wake up, we’re going to put in two hours today doing this.” There’s none of that. It’s whenever he wants. He does have it in his head that he does the warmup, shoot bots, and what the other pros are doing before he actually starts playing.
Tubefilter: Got it. What does production look like for you guys these days? I don’t know if this is even a thing, but what does the average “day” look like for you?
Kayla Drew: It depends on the day.
Harry Drew: Nowadays, yes.
Kayla Drew: It depends on the day. This year we made the decision not to put Rogan into public school for a couple of different reasons. One, his safety. Then for two, it gives us more time to go down to L.A. to create content because he’s home with me Monday, Wednesday, Friday. It’s partial homeschool. Then Tuesday and Thursday he’s in a smaller class environment, where there’s only about 12 kids in this class versus 30. A normal Monday, Wednesday, Friday, he’ll get up, I’ll take his sister to school, we’ll do some homework. Then it’s just like, if he has training that day, he does conditioning just like a workout, so he’ll go to that, or he’ll have football practice. Then, basically, it’s just like, “Hey, what game do you want to play today?” That sort of thing. Then it’s just creating a video around whatever happens.
Harry Drew: Our situation is obviously a lot different than every other YouTube creator out there. I feel a lot of creators, they go into a recording session with an idea of what they’re trying to do, the video they want to execute, where, and sometimes we try to do that, but more often than not it’s easier for Rogan and I just to play and have fun. Then I’ll go back through the film and come up with an idea of the video, like what guns he was using, what class, or just how the gameplay played out, or just whatever. It’s definitely a lot more open in the aspect of the content that we create.
We just play, we try to have fun as much as possible, and then create content based off what he did that day. Then so I’ll organize that, get it ready for the editing team, send it to the editing team, then get the video back. Then I will get it uploaded.
Kayla Drew: Right. And Rogan, he just plays to have fun. Usually we keep the meetings and the work stuff on Tuesdays and Thursdays when he’s at school, so I’ll gather the vlog films, send it up. We have editors now, so I’ll send it to the editor, I’ll get thumbnail pictures of Rogan. Usually I take 10 a month. I’ll be like, “Okay, make a couple different faces, and I’ll send those off to the thumbnail people.” That’s it. Every once in a while during the day, we’ll be like, “Hey, this TikTok is trending. Let’s make a YouTube Shorts.” Shorts are really, really easy.
It’s always on our own time, it’s not like, “Oh we have to…” It’s just whenever we want. We have a couple Christmas video ideas, and we’re just like, “Oh, when we can.” It probably should be a little more rigid, but we don’t want it to ever become like that for Rogan or for our family. You know? As where other YouTubers I feel they could be like, “Okay, I have to do this video today.” I would never want it to be like that for Rogan.
Harry Drew: Right.
Tubefilter: Got you. I did want to ask, you mentioned keeping him out of school a little bit for his safety. Can you talk about the challenges of running this channel with a young child, and what you guys are doing to look out for him?
Harry Drew: From a safety side, it’s just the aspect of, there’s not a lot of kids Rogan’s age who…There are more now, but about a year or two ago, there wasn’t many kids his age who–
Kayla Drew: Watched his content.
Harry Drew: –watched his content. Right?
Harry Drew: It was always the older kids, fourth, fifth, sixth graders who always watched the content. He couldn’t even walk through the halls without the older kids yelling his name and whatnot, which…We want him to try to have a normal life as long as possible. School, sports, all that stuff, and we just felt at school he had too many kids on the playground at the same time.
Kayla Drew: With not enough eyes.
Harry Drew: With not enough eyes watching the situation.
Tubefilter: I see.
Harry Drew: We had meetings with the dean and the principal before that school year even started, just bringing them up to speed with Rogan’s situation. Everybody was on board and everything was fine, but we just felt like–
Kayla Drew: Nothing happened! It was just…
Harry Drew: His sister and him went to school together. Well, this year she now went to middle school, and he’d be at that school without her. It felt like it made a lot more sense put them into something that one, fit the schedule more, and two, was a lot smaller class size, and three, just private to where we just…
Kayla Drew: Have more say.
Harry Drew: We feel we have more communication with the school.
Kayla Drew: True. I mean, if you ask any kid nowadays what they want to be, and they’re go say, “A YouTuber.” When they find out a YouTuber goes to their school, it’s not going to be like me and you were if I see a celebrity I’m going to respect them a little bit. Kids don’t know how to do that.
Harry Drew: They don’t know how to act.
Kayla Drew: Kids don’t know how to act, so they scream and yell, which Rogan loves meeting fans and stuff, but he always has us with him. It’s like you’re security guards. At school, he didn’t have anyone with him, if that makes sense? These kids would just constantly ask him questions, and it’s like, where do you draw the line? You know?
Tubefilter: Yes, absolutely.
Kayla Drew: All schools have YouTube, but at this school he goes to, it’s Christian-based, and so they have a no-phone policy, even though they’re younger, which you’d be surprised nowadays. No-phone policy. If they see him asking questions, he has a couple of people where they can be like, “Okay, no more. Let’s talk about school.” They know our situation a little bit better.
Harry Drew: If you go through that Twitter post [where Rogan went viral], you’ll see a lot of other big creators that commented it or retweeted it with their own comment about like, “This is the kid that everybody needs to be worried about when he’s old enough to play on the main stage.” All cool comments in that Twitter clip.
Tubefilter: What professional and personal opportunities has Rogan gotten, and what are you guys aiming for for the future? Do you want him to be a pro esports player? Do you have any offers, that kind of thing?
Harry Drew: Honestly, originally, when we started this, YouTube wasn’t the goal. The goal was to help get Rogan a platform, so that way when he is old enough to compete on the main stage, that these pro teams knew who he was. Just like any other sport. Parents out there, they’re making highlights of their kids playing football, baseball, and trying to help give them a platform, so these big teams or colleges are actively trying to recruit and scout and everything.
That being said, I originally started creating content, posting clips, so people like OpTic Gaming, FaZe Clan, those guys would see him, and just keep their eye on him as he grew in the Call of Duty scene. I remember the first Call of Duty event I went to, I didn’t even know who FaZe Clan or any of these guys were. Me and my buddy went to just go learn more about the protocol. Rogan wasn’t old enough to go, supposedly, according to their rules.
I got there, and there were kids there, and I was like, “God, I could have brought him.” I left there having a little bit more understanding of who the organizations were, so I started reaching out to people like H3CZ, one of the owner of OpTic Gaming, and tried to do all this and that. Send them information. Never did we expect it to blow up the way it did. My goal was that for these pro teams to know who he was when he was older, I didn’t expect them to all know who he is now.
Kayla Drew: The goal is now giving Rogan a platform where he could do anything he wants. If he wants to do gaming, he can. If he wants to be a YouTuber, he can. I feel like being a kid nowadays that wants to be someone, or be something, they do have to have a social platform.
Harry Drew: Actually colleges nowadays, they changed the rule recently in colleges where colleges are actively recruiting players that have a social following, because it helps bring ticket sales and everything else to the college. Big rules have changed recently in college. I’m sure you’re aware of that.
Tubefilter: Yes, the NIL changes.
Kayla Drew: We talked about this. I would love to change the gaming community, though, and the stigma on age that they have, because I feel like…No, he hasn’t gotten any offers. There’s been discussions, but I think everyone’s too scared.
Harry Drew: I think people were a little intimidated of–
Kayla Drew: The age.
Harry Drew: The backlash that they could potentially get for signing such a young player. You know what I mean? In all reality, it’s like there’s so many other young gamers out there that just have no support from their parents, and their parents just go and buy them a video game, send them to their room, and say, “I’ll call you for dinner.” I feel that’s the worst possible thing you could do, because then you don’t know what the kids, what they’re hearing, what they’re saying, how they’re playing.
I felt, with Rogan and my relationship so close, involved with everything he was doing. It’s supporting, it just like every other sport. Creating a very safe place. He doesn’t have public chat on, turn off the gory graphics.
Kayla Drew: He doesn’t play with randoms.
Harry Drew: He doesn’t play with randoms. It’s a very protected situation.
Kayla Drew: He doesn’t play the one mode.
Harry Drew: He doesn’t play campaign because it’s too realistic. The stigma is, like, I get it, though. I can understand why some parents are worried about their kids playing video games, because that’s how my mom was. After she’s seen everything going on nowadays, she’s apologized, but she didn’t understand that there’s a difference between being a creator and a consumer, and more often than not, all these kids just consume, consume, consume, without any help or guidance on how to create. They all want to be creators, but they have no clue where to even start, and nobody to help them with stuff like that.
Kayla Drew: I feel like that’s any social media, though. Teaching your kids the tools, how to create, and not just consume. Our daughter, that’s with TikTok right now, where it’s not bad unless you are the one making horrible comments and stuff like that. If you teach your kids right from wrong, just like anything else in the world, social media and YouTube and all these platforms can be a huge plus. They’re not going anywhere.
Harry Drew: Social media is a huge help regardless of what you’re doing.
Tubefilter: What are your overall future goals?
Harry Drew: Just finding creative ways to bring content out, regardless of what game’s hot or not. Just letting Rogan do what he wants to do, and trying to figure out how to get behind and support it.
Kayla Drew: Having fun, being able to do this as a family, has been great, a positive atmosphere, and there are just so many opportunities that come with this.
Tubefilter: Is there anything else you wanted to touch on?
Harry Drew: Just to try to help with motivating parents to get involved. Honestly, that’s definitely a big goal: helping remove negative stigma from young gamers. We all did it! We all played video games when we were young! Just because we’re creating content, and not just letting him consume it, doesn’t make it really any different. Literally, we only play whenever he wants to play, and he just stays really busy doing everything else. His sister got super busy with basketball, now Rogan’s wanting to play basketball as well on top of football. He stays busy.
Kayla Drew: That’s why we’re doing a family channel now too, just so people can see. Once kids find you, they want to know the ins and outs, but the family channel’s going to be more like vlog-style, our everyday life, our trips, just the stuff that doesn’t go on Rogan’s main channel, just so people can see he is just a normal kid, we’re just a normal family. We don’t live in L.A. or anywhere like that. We’re just doing it, creating content, having fun.
Harry Drew: It’s gotten pretty crazy, though. Just to give you an idea, last night at football practice, he has a group at least ten 12-year-old boys all hanging around, just watching him practice. Then wanting to meet him when he was done practicing and take pictures. It’s crazy. I never expected this to take off the way it did. It’s pretty cool, and Rogan loves his fans. He really takes the time to talk to them afterward.
People will ask me like, “Hey, can I get a picture of Rogan?” I’m like, “I’m good with it, but you got to ask him.” I always make them ask Rogan.
It’s funny, sometimes they’ll be all starstruck, and they’ll get too scared and walk away. I’m like, “Well, he’s just a little kid!” That’s pretty funny.