YouTube has become a launching pad for many of its content creators. Consciously or not, YouTube is now a catalyst for success in other mediums for a lot of it’s top talents. From artists like Justin Bieber and Austin Mahone to Filmmakers such as Freddie Wong (Video Game High School) and Sawyer Hartman it has enabled people the opportunities to breach into other genres of traditional media.
The noticeable trend of YouTubers on the big screen got me thinking; “What other YouTubers have been in feature films?”. So, I put together a collective list of some of my favorites that have broken the third wall and traded their souls to the cinema gods.
Keep scrolling to see which YouTubers made the list!
6. Kian Lawley in The Chosen
According to IMBD, The Chosen, a story of “when a child-stealing demon attaches itself to a little girl, her family is thrust into a battle against time in order to save the girl and send the demon back to hell“. The former O2L member was chosen to work alongside Terror Films and SUPERGRAVITY Films – known for Man Up featuring KevJumba and Justin Chon.
SUPERGRAVITY Films owned by Max Benator and Marc Hustvedt is a relatively new film company with a foundation set on making small-scale films with digital celebs like Lawley and Jumba. Released July of 2015; The Chosen definitely sets the bar for Lawley’s precedence in the film industry, treading future paths for his inter-celeb peers.
5. Jimmy Tatro in 22 Jump Street
Not only does he run the incredibly successful YouTube channel LifeAccordingToJimmy – holding 2.4 million subscribers and 290,206,391 video views – Jimmy Tatro is an actor, comedian, and writer. In turn with Tatro becoming less and less present on his YouTube channel, his face is popping up more and more in traditional media.
He even landed a backing role in the generational comedy classic 22 Jump Street alongside Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. Luckily, Tatro wasn’t just an extra but a pretty memorable side character, playing the role of a college frat boy in the most cliche way possible. It is notably ‘scary’ how well he fit the role.
However, the drug bustin’ film is not the only time you could have spotted him in theaters alongside huge celebs; Tatro had a supporting role in Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups 2. Not too far off from his Jump Street role, Tatro played a frat boy once again with the likings of Taylor Lautner and Patrick Schwarzenegger.
Not only has the YouTube sketch comedian gotten his face in cinemas, but he has successfully paved the way for his growing credibility in traditional media. You can now see him on his new comedy venture: “Memoirs of a College Dropout Tour”.
4. Harley Morenstein in Tusk
America’s favorite Canadian Sauce Boss made the jump from rogue chef on Epic Meal Time to film in Kevin Smith‘s (aka comic book Hermes) most recent cinematic production – Tusk. The film is a spin-off idea from one of Smith’s podcast episodes, in which he discussed an advertisement from Gumtree where they posted an offer fo a free room and board to any Jane or John Doe that would be willing to wear a walrus costume for two hours each day and you must “be a walrus”. Creepy.
The Clerks creator and Scott Mosier (producer) took the already creepy story and added their own unconventional horror-comedic twist to the Canadian-based film. Morenstein played a Canadian border patrol agent with an accent to prove it along side Dodgeball‘s Justin Long.
Not only can the foul-mouthed-bearded-bacon-aficionado add actor on his eclectic resume, right next to YouTuber and surprisingly – teacher.
3. iJustine in The Wedding Ringer
Switching it up to female YouTubers, iJustine, the blonde beauty currently holding 2.3 million subscribers on her main channel played a very small role in the Kevin Hart film The Wedding Ringer. From the words of IMDB, she played the part of “Stuart’s Wife Pam” – an obviously miniscule role. I haven’t seen the film, nor do I plan on ever seeing the film (mostly because it’s 0% Deadpool), but I do think an important point needs to be addressed:
Justin Ezarik‘s online presence is a galaxy of content and loyal fan interaction with a substantial amount of views and subscribers, however in comparison her presence in The Wedding Ringer was a mere spec. However to draw a silver line, being a content creator in a still unconventional field; infiltrating into the film industry is still a win for #TeamInternet.
2. Troye Sivan in X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Actor turned YouTuber turned recording artist Troye Sivan had a cheeky role in one of Marvel’s most notable films. Sivan played a younger version of Hugh Jackman’s character in a flashback for Logan (Wolverine) in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Interesting enough X-Men isn’t the South African’s only film role, he is also the star of the South African teen franchise- Spud & Spud 2 alongside fellow S.A. YouTuber Caspar Lee. In which Sivan played a freshman at an elite boarding school for boys who is taunted for his pre-pubescent features. The film follows Sivan’s character – John Milton – as he overcome his obstacles.
The coming of age movie is basically South Africa’s equivalent to She’s All That or any angsty teen boarding school film ever. There is a slim chance you have even heard of Spud if you don’t live in South Africa, but trust me it’s a blockbuster over there.
Troye Sivan’s film credibility was established when he was young and now sits on the sidelines to his YouTube presence of a whopping 3.5 million subs and nearly 200 million video views. Which delineates a unique angle to his career, 9 times out of 10 film studios see the subscriber/view count of these YouTubers and utilize that for profitable advantage. However, as a child actor, his IMDB profile sat in the sideline to his exponentially growing YouTube channel and now a musical career. His most recent installment is his new LP ‘WILD‘ in iTunes now.
1. Anna Akana in Ant-Man
As the most recent YouTuber/Blockbuster crossover, Anna Akana landed a significant role in Marvel’s Ant-Man joining Troye Sivan regarding YouTubers in Marvel film’s. Akana is a producer, actress, writer and filmmaker herself in the digital world. Making the switch from producing short films like Loose Ends to acting in large scale Hollywood.
This is honestly my personal favorite out of the list, due in part to the fact that it is a hybrid of a YouTuber and an incredible Marvel film. So yeah, maybe I DID squeal when she popped up on screen, maybe.
Appearing in the hilarious concluding scene alongside Avengers’ Anthony Mackie (Falcon) giving the audience a quick paced foreshadowing to Ant-Man joining the Avengers.
Another reason I stan for Akana’s role in the blockbuster, aside from obvious success points, is the fact that her name is not plastered on the poster or TV Spots for exploitation of her audience like *cough* Kian Lawley *cough*.
Instead, she was chosen for her acting talent, and that was consequently the presence she portrayed. Hopefully, her role as a reporter will be a reoccurring one for the future MCU!
All in all, the success of these ‘Tubers has subsequently blazed trails for other aspiring online content creators hoping to crossover into traditional media. Regardless of the blinding reoccurring theme of film studios taking advantage of their huge subscriber and view counts along with the loyalty of their fans.
The practice of YouTubers infiltrating the medium is still a sketchy subject, but hopefully in the future the legitimacy of their talents will be recognized as an eclipse of their statistics. In retrospect, there is an obviously silver lining for both sides of the deal.
Nevertheless, I have to agree with the oh-so-talented Casey Neistat, former indie filmmaker turned YouTube vlogger, “YouTube/the Internet is not a stepping stone to something bigger – YouTube/the Internet is the destination!“
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