YouTube has proven to be much more than a platform where we all watch cat videos just to pass the time until that next boring thing we have to do. YouTube has been responsible for the discovery of a lot of today’s young talent. Some of them have even gone on to become insanely popular both on the platform and on other platforms. For instance, many of Justin Bieber’s devout fans are well aware of his YouTube origin story, for example. He would never have gotten where he was today if he hadn’t posted those videos of him singing.
More than that, YouTube is evolving as a platform, becoming a place where people go to consume content free of charge on demand without having to follow a set schedule like on traditional TV. As such, many YouTube stars have been able to make a living solely through their YouTube videos without even the need to get on the big screen.
While catering to the younger audience, many child stars have gotten their starts by simply taking the initiative to post their lives up for the world to see. Here are some popular young YouTube stars that have gone on to be extremely successful.
12 Savannah Outen
Savannah Outen first became popular in the late 2000s on YouTube. She now has more than 470,000 subscribers and multiple videos with millions of views each. Her music has been featured on Radio Disney, and she has been asked to perform the National Anthem for several sporting events. She is now 23 years old and has released two studio albums to notable success. She also covers songs by popular artists and releases them on her YouTube channel. While her last major album release was in 2012, she hasn’t ceased activity. She is still releasing her singles and music videos via YouTube.
Avery, now 21 years old, was discovered after her debut song “Love Me or Let Me Go” was posted to her YouTube channel in 2010, garnering 1 million views in only 3 months. However, that wasn’t when she first drew attention. She released a cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” prior to that, re-enacting a famous scene from the movie Step Brothers. She went on to be signed by Island Def Jam as one of the youngest artists ever in their ranks. She took a short break from recording in 2012 and 2013 to attend University, but she ultimately continued releasing music in 2014. She is now working independently.
10 Sophia Grace and Rosie
Sophia Grace Brownlee and Rosie McClelland, ages 12 and 9, respectively, are the two adorable little British cousins in tutus who were popularized by Ellen DeGeneres on her show. They got their start in 2011 when a video was posted to YouTube of them performing a cover of Nicki Minaj’s hit song “Super Bass.” The video has garnered tens of millions of views to date, and Sophia Grace has gone on to cover other popular music to similar success. They have both made recurring appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and have even gotten guest appearance roles in several TV shows and movies. They starred in their own film as well, produced by Nickelodeon.
If you’re unfamiliar with these girls, just imagine an all-girl Jackson 5. Except there’s six of them. These six singing sisters based in Malibu got their start posting music on YouTube, and now they’ve got a deal with the prestigious Universal Records. On top of that, they’ve accumulated 2.5 million subscribers and more than 600 million views for their pop music cover videos. They’ve also been in talks for movie and animated series deals. They are now readying their first album of pop and acapella music. Christina, one of the sisters, stated: “We’ve figured out who we are, and we want the things we do to be inspiring, empowering and positive.”
8 Jenn McAllister
Jenn McAllister, who goes by the name Jenxpenn on YouTube, is an idol and friend-like figure for teen and tweens everywhere. She has over 765,000 subscribers and has partnered with AwesomenessTV on YouTube. She used to do skits and other comedy-related stuff, but she has recently been focusing on doing more of a blog style, focusing on viewer questions and just being herself. She is trying to hit 1 million subscribers as a personal goal, and she wishes to take her fame to launch an acting or TV hosting career in the future. “I’ve always had that goal of 1 million subscribers, and maybe that will open up some other opportunities outside YouTube,” she says.
7 Zay Zay and Jojo
Zay Zay and Jojo’s popularity kind of came out of nowhere very suddenly. Comedian Kevin Fredericks had a vision that his kids were insanely funny and could capture the world’s attention. So, he set up his son Zay Zay (5 years old at the time) and his younger brother Jojo, with their own YouTube channel. They’ve since partnered with AwesomnessTV, garnering millions of views on their show Crazy I Say. People compare them to Willow and Jaden Smith, and Zay Zay has in fact landed his first film gig. He played Buckwheat in The Little Rascals Save the Day.
6 Lia Marie Johnson
Lia Marie Johnson is someone you may have heard of without necessarily knowing her name. She became famous overnight for creating a video of herself slowly eating a bowl of cereal that was featured throughout the media. The 17 year old has since partnered with AwesomenessTV, becoming a regular addition to their series Kids React and Teens React. She has created several characters including the insanely popular Terry the Tomboy, who was featured in her own feature film. She often does videos of her own as well in a bloggy or sketch-comedy style. Her YouTube channel has amassed nearly 1 million subscribers and nearly 40 million views as of the end of 2014.
5 Teala Dunn
Teala Dunn has a pretty successful career for such a young girl. She’s a veteran actor of such shows as Dog With a Blog, Are We There Yet? and Enlisted. However, she actually got her start on YouTube, creating her own quirky persona. These days, having grown up a little more, she’s still doing videos on beauty and cosmetics. She claims that YouTube is the place to be since she can receive instant feedback from her fans, something that can’t be achieved on TV or in movies. She still has a bit of a weird side, and she embraces it. “I’ll say during my videos that I’m so weird,” she says. “It’s OK to be weird.”
4 Cody Simpson
Cody Simpson is an Australian accomplished swimmer, but that’s far from the most interesting thing about him. He’s also a very talented and accomplished singer. He got his start by uploading videos of himself covering songs by bands like Jackson 5 and Justin Timberlake. He was discovered shortly thereafter by producer Shawn Campbell, who signed him quickly after viewing his channel. Perhaps the most interesting fact about this is that he was only 12 years old at the time. He has since gone on to appear in several TV shows over the last few years and has released two full-length studio albums.
3 Greyson Chance
18 year old Greyson Chance, got his start on YouTube when he was only in the sixth grade, when a video of him performing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at a school music festival caught the attention of consistent child star discoverer Ellen DeGeneres. Chance went on to then perform on her show, and shortly after that, he was signed with her new record label 'eleveneleven'. In 2011, he released his debut album Hold On ‘Til The Night, and proceeded on a world tour. Chance began piano at the age of 8 and had only 3 years of piano lessons prior to his success.
2 Fred Figglehorn (Lucas Cruikshank)
Possibly the original YouTube teen mega-success, Lucas Cruikshank, now 22 years old, created the YouTube persona Fred Figglehorn. Fred is a fictional 6 year old with anger management issues and a dysfunctional family. Touted by many adults to be the most annoying thing ever created, for some reason the persona caught on like wildfire with younger children. After the success of his channel solidified him as a YouTube star, he was signed to create 3 Fred movies and a short-lived TV series for Nickelodeon. In addition, he went on to guest star in TV shows like iCarly and Hannah Montana.
1 Justin Bieber
Perhaps Justin Bieber is not a child anymore, but he did find his first successes on YouTube. He is also probably the most successful star to ever rise from the platform. After posting videos of him playing music on Youtube back in 2007, Scooter Braun, former exec of So So Def Recordings, came across Bieber. He went on to introduce Bieber to Usher, and the rest (as they say) is history.