Scotty Heath was conversing in July 2022 with a fellow content creator who asked, “Who is your dream interview?” Immediately, the first name that came to mind was Kandi Burress, a singer-songwriter, businesswoman and reality-television star on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
“I loved Xscape; I grew up loving Xscape, SWV and TLC—those were my top three female groups ’cause I grew up as an R&B head due to my mom,” Heath told the Mississippi Free Press. “On top of that, Kandi was always my favorite member of Xscape, and she was the reason why I tuned into ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta.’”
The Canton, Miss., native reached out to Don Juan, an affiliate of the singer and someone who had commented on Heath’s reviews of the reality show on his YouTube channel, ScottyByNatureTV. Don Juan responded and referred Heath to someone else on Kandi Burress’s team. He reached out and waited. And waited. And waited.
With no rapid response, doubts began to creep in. Would he actually get the interview, he wondered. While filming “Boys Night Out,” a panel segment on his YouTube channel, a ding on his phone signaled he had received a direct message. It was from someone on Burress’ creative team.
“Are you available to do a 15-minute interview with Kandi on Monday at 5:15 pm?” the message read.
Excited, he immediately responded affirmatively and assured the contact he would have everything prepared for the Zoom interview. After filming, he called Jamar, his best friend and podcast co-host, who immediately made a flyer to promote the news.
On Sept. 12, 2022, the day of the interview, Scotty Heath and Jamar—who goes by Jamar84 online—were filled with nerves. This call was the biggest interview they had ever done on their podcast. Just a few minutes shy of 5:15 p.m., Heath announced Burress was on the way, and moments later, she was in the waiting room of the Zoom.
“We were hyperventilating. We were so nervous,” Heath recalled of that moment. “But when she came on screen, she asked ‘Why are y’all so nervous? I’m just Kandi.’”
In Heath’s experience, people have a certain negative perception of Canton, Miss., so getting interviews with someone as famous as Kandi Burress seemed impossible to him beforehand. He now sees this accomplishment as not only a win for him and Jamar, but for his hometown and the people trying to make their dreams a reality.
“I feel like I’m one of those guys that’s from here that’s actually taking out the time to make his dream come true,” the YouTuber said.
‘Things Began to Change’
Scotty Heath was a 21-year-old college dropout around the time he began his YouTube journey. He had already been watching the videos of popular content creators like “The Skorpion Show” with Kevin and Makael and “SweetAddictionsTV” almost every day. Sometimes, he disagreed with their commentary, which led him to consider that maybe he could share his opinions on his own platform.
“I was already doing videos on Facebook, and people were noticing me from that,” he said. “But people would say, ‘I think you should go and get on YouTube,’ and I’d be like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t think I’m ready for that.’”
Heath had created a YouTube account years ago, but he had never posted any content to it. One day, he finally made a video introducing his channel, but he did not post again until a year later, this time on a matter much more personal.
“One of my cousins had found out about my sexuality, and he kind of shunned me for it,” he said. “I talked about it in that particular video.”
Heath titled his channel Mr.StillStanding, taking inspiration from an album that one of his favorite singers, Monica, released in 2010. He began reviewing popular reality-TV shows like “Real Housewives,” “Basketball Wives” and “Love and Hip Hop.”
“YouTube in 2010 versus YouTube in 2023 is very different,” he said. “Back then, it wasn’t so oversaturated. There weren’t so many of us at the same time.”
“… You were free to be and say and do whatever you wanted to do without being censored,” he continued. “But now on YouTube, they have these different rules of conduct, so there’s only so much you can do or so much you can say.”
In 2020, Heath decided to take his platform more seriously. He rebranded and changed his handle to ScottybyNature, a name that one of his former co-workers, Alicia, inspired.
“I thought about it. I said, ‘Scotty By Nature is actually a good name. I think it has a catch, so I’m gonna use that name.’ … And once I changed it to ScottyByNatureTV, that’s when things began to change for me,” he explained.
ScottyByNatureTV has since garnered more than 45,000 subscribers on his channel, well on his way to hitting his 50,000 goal. The road has not been easy, he said, but through hard work and consistency, Heath has branded himself as someone others regularly watch and listen to.
“Scotty Heath as a person is the same person as ScottyByNatureTV,” the content creator said about himself. “Everything that you see in regards to my online personality is really the same person that’s off camera. I’m very vibrant. I’m loud. I’m very funny, and I do have my flaws. I’m 100% transparent and honest about all things, whether it be good or bad.”
‘I Had to Sit Back and Think’
When Scotty Heath first started YouTube, he did not know what he was doing. He knew nothing about how to market himself or his channel or about how much consistency mattered when trying to be a content creator. He also found himself falling into bouts of stagnation, where he loved making content, but his channel was not growing.
“It took me going through something kind of traumatic, where I had to sit back and just think about things,” Heath said. “A lot of times, I would let my job or personal issues get between me actually doing the work to put into my channel.”
Sometimes, the reviewer’s personal issues caused him to put YouTube to the side. Or he would be tired from working late and postpone finishing a video for the next day, only to never return to that project. He lacked the discipline to push through, he said.
“I’ve seen so many of my peers on YouTube really make this their only source of income. They don’t have to clock into nobody’s job. They can just sit at home and do this all day,” Heath said. “The job that I have I could really care less about it. It’s something that pays the bills and keeps me afloat. But this is what I love to do: speak my mind and give my opinion and get paid to do it.”
When the pandemic happened, many reality-TV shows and scripted television stopped filming, so Heath had to figure out what he would talk about on his channel. He pivoted to covering pop-culture topics with his “YASSSS For The Mess” segment, whose name derives from a text thread between him and two of his friends.
“I started talking about things we see on ‘The Shade Room’ or ‘The Neighborhood Talk’ or ‘Baller Alert,’” he said. “I started seeing a difference (on my channel) because that was me tapping another market.”
“The very first one (of these segments) was basically me recapping an interview from YouTuber Michelle ATLien Brown,” Heath added. “She did an interview with Peter Thomas and Apollo Nida, and I did a review on it. I saw the way the numbers went, and she actually commented and thanked me for recapping her interview.”
‘Make a Way’
Recapping pop-culture topics kept Scotty Heath afloat until reality-television shows began filming again. Heath also began adding new segments to his channel. “Who Was Wrong” is a collaboration with other YouTubers where they discuss famous reality-TV feuds and discuss whom they believe had been in the wrong.
In “Young, Fresh & New,” Heath interviews and highlights YouTubers who do not have as large of an audience. With “The Prelude,” he and his best friend and co-host Jamar84 interview reality-TV stars. “Whether You Like It Or Not,” “Roast & Review” and “The Chasing Reality” are panels where Heath and YouTube friends discuss reality TV. His favorite segment, “Boys Night Out,” is an all-male panel where Heath and his friends host multiple different segments discussing music, pop culture, film and more.
“I want to use my platform to promote people that’s from my city that have music,” he added. “I’ve done it before for certain people that put out music that’s from here.”
Mississippi does not necessarily have a wealth of YouTubers to represent the state, Heath said, so he feels good knowing that he is making big moves while still living in Mississippi. Building his platform is important to him because he wants to help lift Mississippi’s stature, though he explained that living here can also come with its own set of challenges as well.
“It’s good to have the reach that I do have, but then there are times where it’s like, ‘If I wasn’t here, I would have more of a reach than I do now.’ And it can be a little bit frustrating,” he said.
Heath finds that people do not always respect him due to where he is from. The South, in general, has a hard time being taken seriously, he said, as many view the region as lacking intelligent residents. Heath recalled a time where he had an interview, and the interviewee was very late to their meeting, which made him feel disrespected.
“When they finally did show up, I was like, ‘I understand that I’m not the biggest blogger out there, and I’m here in Mississippi, but I just want you to treat me with the same respect that you were treating any of these other big-name bloggers that you do interviews with,’” he recalled telling the guest.
“I’m on the come-up like everybody else is,” Heath said. “Everybody has been on the come-up before, so we have to respect those of us that’s trying to make a way and make a way for everybody else that’s here in Mississippi, too.”
‘Fighting for the Boys’
Once Scotty Heath reaches his 50,000-subscriber goal, his next goal will be to expand to 100,000 subscribers. After having been on YouTube for more than a decade, Heath wants to earn the silver plaque YouTubers receive for attaining that number.
“I wanna continue to do more interviews with more entertainers,” he said. “I wanna interview some musicians, too. One of my interviews that I really wanna do is with Tevin Campbell. That’s a big goal of mine.”
Monica, Brandy, and rapper Glorilla were some other names he mentioned for people he’d like to interview. He also plans to do more collaborations with other YouTubers and add more segments to his growing channel.
People come and go from Mississippi, and Heath sometimes feels like a move to a new city could be good for him, but he also feels that he has accomplished so much from inside the state. Whether he stays or leaves, he will always rep his city and state, he pledged.
“I feel like if you feel like you need to leave, then go ahead, but also don’t forget your roots either because sometimes people will leave and forget where they came from,” the YouTuber said. “If I ever left Mississippi, I would never forget where I came from. I will always be Canton, Miss., to the death of me.”
The best advice Scotty Heath would give to upcoming YouTubers, especially those in Mississippi, is that consistency is key, that they should know their lanes and what they want to talk about to demonstrate a stronger sense of purpose and intentionality in their content.
“I alway say that I’m fighting for the boys that didn’t think they could win because I was one of those boys that didn’t think he could win,” Heath said. “At the age of 34 years old, I am winning in certain aspects of my life and the things I wanna do, as far as YouTube is concerned.”