When he’s not forgetting his flour on Great British Bake Off or chomping down hot wings for a challenge alongside best friend Chunkz, Yung Filly is surprisingly, acting exactly how he does on TV: Fun, playful, and full of laughter.
The 28-year-old, born Andres Felipé Barrientos, moved to the UK from Colombia when he was two-years-old, relocating around south east London during his childhood.
He’s known for his infectious comedy and high energy, and credits his upbringing alongside his mum and sister for his confidence.
“I do get upset. I do get tired, lazy. But for the most part, what you see on the screen is actually me”, he admits.
“My sister's full of energy, my mom's that way...I grew up in a loud household. In all fairness, I think that's why my career's gone so well. I think you can genuinely see that it’s all natural.”
But he hails from humble beginnings. Although he vows he’d never move back to Columbia and always saw London as his home, it wasn’t easy, being racked up in debt and delving into his entrepreneurial roots from a young age (as the school’s Lucozade seller) just to get by.
When asked what it was like growing up, he simply replies: “Struggle…ketchup and rice.”
“I come from the bottom of the barrel…and that’s why I’m so grateful for the position I’m in now”, he adds.
“My mum definitely shaped me with the lessons she taught me.
“She’s a single mum with three kids, my dad was a s*** dad so she just had to make it happen. She did loads of cleaning jobs. My mum worked at Poundland at the time I had some mad BBC series…just getting my mum out of the position she was in was just the biggest motivation.”
A fan of Jamal Edwards’ work, Filly started posting on YouTube at the age of 12, recording freestyles and music videos.
“I was a go-getter, no one gave me my career, I was actively thinking of ways that I could become successful”, he says.
“Without you realising, people in your life come into play and opportunities start appearing.”
Over 1.4 million subscribers later, he’s built up a profile as one of the nation's most-loved internet personalities, and has been involved with the likes of The Sidemen, and Chicken Shop Date.
“I'd say to my younger self, ‘focus and work harder’. I've definitely worked hard, but I definitely got misled at times in my life by influences and certain people. Even down to the first time I had a drink” he admits.
“I always was that guy that was like ‘I'm never drinking it’s against my religion’..and I’m not blaming the people I was with as there’s natural influence.”
“So I’d say work hard and keep your head down.”
Most recently, he’s been going back to his roots and collaborating with Tango and The Prince’s Trust to inspire the next generation to pursue their passions in life - even if they haven’t figured out what they are yet.
Along with the charity, he held a panel talk for 16-30-year-olds to help ‘find their fearless’ and get the tools they need to launch a career or start a business.
@yfilly#AD This one hit the feels…😅 I met so many young people working towards a brighter future at the Find your Fearlessness Event with @Tango & @The Prince’s Trust I asked them who their fearless inspiration is and some of the answers got man feeling choked up! Every young individual deserves the chance to be fearless in progressing towards their personal goals. If you or someone you know is aged 16-30 and is out of education or unemployed, sign up to a course at The Prince’s Trust now! #FindYourFearlessness#GetTangod#DrinkTango♬ original sound - yfilly
“It was a bunch of kids that were in my position. I’m 28 now so the last time I experienced struggle I was about 15 so to see them sitting there and looking at me in awe and as someone who is an inspiration to them was sick”, he describes.
“I was in that room, hosting that panel, I'm looking around and most of these people look like me. They’re all from ethnic minorities or Black, and I can relate to that.
“When I'm talking to them individually, most of them come from the same upbringing I come from, their families being on benefits.”
Speaking of why it was so rewarding, he adds: “People would ask me the most basic questions but my response just lit up their eyes and I was like ‘wow’ I’ve got that effect on people, it’s mad. That’s the project that I’m most proud of that I’ve done.”
Despite dabbling in a few different roles before being pulled back into media, Filly accepts that it’s not easy to find something you love in life.
“The people who have passions, they’re the lucky ones because they know from the get-go what they want to do”, he admits, joking that he’d ‘love to be a footballer’. “But the average person probably goes through about five careers before they’re doing what they’re doing.”
“The hardest thing in life is trying to figure out what to do with it.”
However, for anyone more introverted, it’s no secret that it can be more difficult to put yourself out there or have the willpower to follow in Filly’s footsteps - but he’s trying to teach people that confidence can most definitely come over time.
“I think loving yourself and accepting yourself for who you are, and what you look like is important. In a modern-day society with social media it's so easy to be influenced and almost become someone that you're not”, Filly says.
“I think first and foremost, it’s what a lot of lazy people don’t want to hear but it starts with you…you’ve just got to want it bad enough.”
Even he’s had his down days, recalling: “I used to do Snapchat and there’d be times that I couldn’t be bothered to film but I’d record like two hours worth of videos because my mum was the motivation…I’d go home and see the paint peeling off the walls, or the fact that I was 16 and all my mates had a double bed and I was still on a single…all those little things motivate you.”
But for him, it’s all been worth it. He has an amazing home, incredible cars, and still remains as humble as he was from the start, which is why fans are so intent on sticking around.
“There’ll be times that I’m in bed and I’m like ‘I can’t believe this is my house’, I’m just so grateful for everything that I’ve got”, he says of how far he’s come.
“Sometimes I think to myself what if it had been the other way? What if I had grown up with a silver spoon? I probably wouldn’t be as grateful…I love the fact that I struggled.”
He concludes: “My biggest achievement is helping my mum retire. It’s my mum’s world and I’m just living in it. I paid off my mum’s debt, my mum had loads of debt and I paid it off in one go. That was a sick feeling.”
“I also took all of my family on holiday, that was sick, but everything is family-orientated…all these materialistic things ain’t s***.”
“You know, I think I've smashed it. I’ve got my family involved in every aspect of the business, down to my two sisters, my mum and my uncle. I'm just proud of myself. And I don't tell myself enough, I've smashed it.