If it weren't for their hatred of the exam hall, 23-year-olds Asha Cuthbert and Louis Ng Man-hin might not be YouTubers today.
"After studying for so long you just want to vent. The music they played in the listening exam was really slow and doesn't [let] you focus. I wanted to express that," says Cuthbert of what first spurred her to vlog.
Ng also posted videos on YouTube as an escape from exams. "I was under pressure. And when you have lots of schoolwork, that's when you really get motivated to do some other stuff," says the gamer, who's known for his cynical commentary.
Ng hated memorising textbook content so much that when he was asked to compare two historical figures in his Chinese history A-level exam, he made up a love story for the characters instead. He didn't bother going back to school to find out how he'd done.
"I don't care," he says. "I'm really clear about the road I've taken. I want to do stuff related to the internet, and I will only do this." At worst, he says: "I'll just have to beg for food."
He certainly doesn't need to beg right now. His YouTube channel, Loui5Ng, has more than 27 million views and 215,000 subscribers. Two years ago, he was already earning HK$20,000 a month for the views he received. Now, however, most of his income comes from online advertising.
Considered an opinion leader, he is frequently contacted by game producers who want him to feature their games on his channel. "Some games are a total mistake, but people believe in the ads. They want to see me play the games, but they are just so boring that my commentary becomes boring too," says Ng. "Now I want to introduce better games to my audience."
Cuthbert, who is also a model, gets a lot of comments from her viewers on her channel [A], asking her what clothes and make-up she is wearing. "It's scary how much power you can have by just recording videos at home," she says. She tries to use her influence for good, such as calling out for more people to adopt animals. Sadly though, these posts get less attention. "But when I post a selfie, I get more than 1,000 likes. What is the mentality of this world?" asks Cuthbert.
Ng also says he dislikes how commercialised YouTube has become. "Before, the internet was on demand. You could see really good, new videos every day. Now, they give you the videos that have paid. I don't like being part of that," says Ng.
YouTubing also brings in a lot of haters. Cuthbert says people on Golden Forum have photoshopped her pictures and posted personal information. She laughs it off, but it upsets Ng.
"The internet's a scary and crazy place. They post comments, and you can't fight back," he says. Ng started by doing vlogs, but moved to gameplay partly because he didn't want to share so much personal information. "Why should I talk about my family to people who will scold me?" he asks.
Ng says his cynical image is not fake, just a more dramatic version of his real personality. "I'm a jerk in real life," he says. That's something Cuthbert also likes about YouTube: she can just be herself. "Modelling is very different. You can't be rude. I hate that. You have to put make-up on, put on high heels, dresses … that's not me - but don't tell my clients that!" she laughs.
Family support has been essential for both stars. Cuthbert's parents pushed her to pursue her interests and never blamed her for getting bad grades. "I was really bad at maths, and dad was like, 'I'm sorry, it's in your genes. Your maths is bad because of me'," she says.
Ng, meanwhile, is able to dedicate all his time to his career because his mother supports him, even though this wasn't his original goal. "YouTube was not our dream. It just happened, and we embraced it."