5 Young Digital Stars Parlaying Followers Into Hollywood Fame

6:30 AM 8/9/2018

by Natalie Jarvey

From Musical.ly to Instagram, these teens (and one toy-loving 6-year-old) are reaching fans on new platforms.

Jacob Sartorius,  Jojo Siwa, Ryan ToysReview
Jacob Sartorius, Jojo Siwa, Ryan ToysReview
Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic; Noam Galai/Getty Images; Courtesy Photo

It has been 10 years since the first crop of YouTube stars began to make waves on the Google-owned streamer for the casual vlogs they were posting from their childhood bedrooms. Now every time a new platform launches, a group of fresh-faced young talent crops up along with it. After YouTube came Vine and then, briefly, Meerkat and Periscope. Today's young creators are still finding fame on YouTube (like Ryan and his popular toy reviews), but have also expanded to new platforms like Instagram (where Bryce Xavier has 364,000 followers) and Musical.ly (which launched the music career of teen heartthrob Jacob Sartorius).

THR took a look at the digital talents under 18 who are moving their mediums forward.  

 

  • Annie LeBlanc, 13

    David Livingston/Getty Images

    One-fourth of the YouTube family Bratayley, LeBlanc has grown up on the streaming platform. The Georgia-born gymnast got her start on YouTube nine years ago with routine and technique videos. More recently, she has broken out on her own through the Brat web series Chicken Girls, on which she stars as Rhyme. LeBlanc has 10 million total followers, including 3 million on YouTube and 6 million on Instagram, and has started recording music, including August 2017 iTunes-charting "Fly."

  • Jacob Sartorius, 15

    Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic

    Virginia-raised Sartorius started on Vine but first hit it big via lip-syncing app Musical.ly, where he reached 19 million-
plus followers. He parlayed that fame into a music career; his "Sweatshirt" peaked at No. 90 on the Billboard Hot 100. Last year he toured to promote albums The Last Text and Left Me Hangin'.

  • Jojo Siwa, 15

    Noam Galai/Getty Images

    Her YouTube channel, which has 7 million subscribers and regularly gets millions of views per video, has become a hit with the under-13 
set. Now the former 
Dance Moms star is bringing digital credibility to Viacom through a talent deal with Nickelodeon that has led to roles on specials as well as series School of Rock. The Omaha native has released several singles and recently won a Kids' Choice Award for favorite musical YouTube creator.

  • Ryan ToysReview, 6

    Courtesy of subject

    Inspired by the videos he saw of popular unboxer EvanTube, Ryan began posting his own YouTube videos three years ago. He is now one of the top kids on the platform with 15 million followers to his family-friendly channel. The popularity of his posts recently helped him land a deal selling his own line of toys at Walmart. Parents Shion and Loann don't disclose Ryan's last name or hometown to protect the grade-schooler's privacy.

  • Bryce Xavier, 16

    Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

    The Southern California-based dancer-violinist-actor has built a fan base of 2.4 million online followers. His Instagram led the Facebook-owned app to select him to help launch its new IGTV video platform, and he has partnered with Target on clothing line Art Class. Xavier has also recurred on Bounce TV's Family Time and co-starred on Brat's Total Eclipse.

    A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.