Modern Dutch Heroes: Nikkie de Jager

Standing on the international stage of the 2021 Eurovision Song Festival in Rotterdam, next to decades-long veterans of international celebrity the likes of Jan Smit, Chantal Janzen and Edsilia Rombley, was Nikkie de Jager – the queen of YouTube makeup tutorials and better known as Nikkie Tutorials. If you didn’t know it, you would think she had been on the international stage for as long as her co-hosts, as she navigated the Song Festival broadcast with ease and grace. And true, with millions of followers on all her socials, she is the undisputed queen and is very much ‘the moment’ – but it took a lot for her to get where she is today.

Less than a year and half before co-hosting the Eurovision Song Festival, Nikkie was forced to open up a part of her life that was incredibly personal, which she thought had long been locked up and gone away. In January of 2020 she uploaded a video to YouTube where she announced that after having been blackmailed by an old acquaintance about a personal secret, she decided that she was going to take control. She continued in the video with how she struggled with the decision to make this announcement, but came to realize that above all she wanted to control the narrative. Then she announced to the world that she is transgender.

The level of bravery it takes for someone who was on the rise in social media circles – becoming a popular influencer and winning collaboration deals with international makeup brands – to reveal such a secret to the world is remarkable in its own right. But to have been blackmailed, or even just threatened, by someone she knew and to not cower but to stand up strong and speak her truth, is something beyond just being brave. The vulnerability she displayed and the strength that she exuded allowed the world to really see Nikkie the person, not just Nikkie the famous YouTuber. And the world responded overwhelmingly with love, support and admiration for her bravery. Her fame only skyrocketed from there.

Then, in August 2020, she and her fiancé Dylan Drossaers experienced what she called her ‘worst nightmare’. Nikkie and Dylan were held at gunpoint during a home robbery, after a violently forced entry into their home. She later uploaded another video explaining briefly what had happened and that it would take some time for her to recover. And despite this and her other difficulties, she always has a shining spirit. She’s always smiling and positive; confident yet humble; personifies graceful strength.

Those who watch Dutch TV can regularly see her as a guest or a judge on many Dutch TV shows like ‘Wie is de Mol’, ‘Make Up Your Mind’, ‘Drag Race Holland’ (the latter two both with Fred van Leer), and as the host of her own shows, ‘Make-Up Cup’ and ‘Glow Up’, which also features younger children learning the visual artistry of makeup. And she belongs to a very exclusive group of Dutch celebrities who have made it to the US television talk shows, having been on the Ellen Show last year.

If this is Nikkie’s moment, it’s a moment that is lasting a very long time as she gains more and more fans around the world. In the past few years, she has collaborated with some of the most famous and influential people in the world including Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg (if you haven’t seen her tutorial video that he narrates, definitely check it out!), Marc Jacobs and more. She has also won numerous awards including the American Influencer Awards (twice), E! People’s Choice Awards, Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards for Favourite Star in the Netherlands, and her crowning achievement here in the Netherlands, the prestigious Televizier-Ster for Presenter of the Year.

Nikkie de Jager is a champion for so many people in so many areas of life, and has undoubtedly helped countless people in the world struggling with their own gender and own personal identity. Yes, she ‘survived’ these monumental struggles, but she’s come out of them more a ‘warrior’ than a ‘survivor’. Her spirit is infectious and her influence will surely be measured for generations to come. For this reason, Nikkie de Jager is a modern Dutch hero.

Written by Marla Thomson