Your Kid Wants To Be A Video Star

iJustine and her sister Jenna pose with fans at Comic-Con 2015. Photo S. Valle

iJustine and her sister Jenna pose with fans at Comic-Con 2015. Photo S. Valle

Your kid wants be a video star.

He’s not alone.

And you may have a hard time convincing him or her to do otherwise.

VidCon held in Anaheim, California this summer attracted it’s largest audience yet. An estimated 20,000 avid video watchers, industry pros, and content creators gathered to see their online idols in person.

Never heard of VidCon, and you don’t know of any YouTube sensations? Let me tell you a little bit about this burgeoning industry and a few of its celebrities.

The annual video conference established in 2010 by The Vlogbrothers, “The Fault in the Stars” and “Paper Towns” author John Green and brother Hank Green, has gained traction at the speed of Comic-Con, and the signs point to the growing popularity of online videos spawning more self-created celebrities who are capturing the hearts and minds of teenagers across the interwebs.

Parents of Millennial children, you may need to brush up on your YouTube celebrities because they are not limited to a laptop, mobile or home computer near you anymore.

The video site has inspired more than a few online careers like Joey Graceffa and Felix Ljellber, aka PewDiePie. Not household names in the traditional tinsel-town way, but they are well-known in the 13-18 age group for their genuine and open portrayal of, well, their real lives.

Last year, Kjellber reportedly made $7.4 million on YouTube making videos about video games.

Besides creating videos for his YouTube channel, Graceffa wrote a book, “In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World,”  and starred in the web series, “Storytellers,” a show about angsty kids in high school.

Variety’s Famechanger Digital Star Ranking earned the two-time Amazing Race competitor a third place spot, and Graceffa purportedly earns a cool from ads $365K.

Among the more established YouTubers is Justine Ezarik, better known to her 2.2 million subscribers as iJustine.

People Magazine recently called her “The Queen of YouTube.” The 30-something is somewhat of a pioneer in the lifecasting business since she started broadcasting her every move 24/7 way back before GoPro, Periscope, or even the iPhone were around.

I spoke with Ezarik at Comic-Con in San Diego in between posing for selfies and signing posters for her fans.

SDCC15 iJustine and Suzette Valle

SDCC15 iJustine and Suzette Valle

Ezarik also published a book, “iJustine: An Analog Memoire” (Keyword Press, Simon & Schuster 2015).

I asked her why a 31 year-old needed to write a memoire. She said she’s profoundly aware of the growing interest young people have, mostly teenagers, in becoming someone in this space and she wants to share both the positives and pitfalls of the unchartered online-career path she forged for herself.

“I want my fans to see what my life has been like behind the scene,” she said. She also warns that pointing the camera on herself isn’t always glamorous; from people calling the cops on her, to sharing her home address online, Ezarik has had her share of scary moments.

Up next for Ezarik? “Writing a book was on my bucket list, and I already did that. Next, I’m working on my own clothing line,” she told me.

How and why Ezarik would ever want to show the world what she looks like when she first wakes up, or want to share with us her conquests and breakups, what she eats, buys, or is feeling at any given moment is not something many us can relate to.

But her formula has worked, and is working to the tune of being an estimated $2 million net worth individual.

Now for the bad news. YouTube takes a 45% cut from all earnings on the vidsite. The IRS also takes their share, which is usually in the 40% rate. So tell your kids those millions dwindle into the hundred thousands rather quickly.

Becoming a YouTube star maybe fueling online-fame aspirations of many Gen Y’ers, (see what I did there?), and iJustine has a little advice for aspiring YouTubers: just be yourself.

Nick Bilton of The New York Times said that these YouTube personalities are names we, adults or parents, aren’t likely to recognize and we shouldn’t worry about it.

I’ll admit, I was not up on my YouTube celebrities before my interview with iJustine. And I didn’t know about Graceffa or the Swedish guy either — and I was shocked!

After all, being out of touch is something I try to fend off on a daily basis.

Are you feeling out touch, too?

Does your child want to be a video star? Would you be OK with it?


  1. great post. I did not know about iJustine. Hard to balance the whole “too much self” in this world with connecting creatively.

    • Suzette Valle says:

      What a different world our children live in, Heather. I agree, it has to be so tough to be putting themselves out there so much. But I wonder, as bloggers, are we doing something similar? I feel that way sometimes. Thanks for popping by!

  2. I feel badly for people not getting to live a private life when they have this much spotlight on them…. I don’t think that lifestyle is for me and would not want it for my kids…. but then again there’s a part of me who totally gets it why they would want to do it. Maybe kid video stars have it nicer than adults? I can tell you it would be recorded video, not live video if my kids wanted in on this trend.

    • Suzette Valle says:

      I think it takes a real need or desire to be ‘out there’ like this, Joann. I read iJustine’s book, and it’s a fascinating read. She’s really put it all out there, and yet after speaking with her, she seems totally normal and unaffected by the exposure. Rare case? Probably. 😉

  3. Lua says:

    My son is 8 and watches a lot of kids his age on YouTube. He’s expressed an interest in having his own channel, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that. If I do allow him, my main stipulations would be making sure he doesn’t divulge a lot of personal information, and also I’d want him to take full responsibility of editing and learning all the behind the scenes work it takes to produce good videos.

  4. Rebecca says:

    My kids haven’t gotten into the whole You Tube thing but I know it’s coming. I had no idea it was such a big industry out there.

  5. Rachel says:

    My daughter wants to start a podcast which I am okay with. I think it would be weird if she was Youtube famous.

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