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What is a YouTube™ Celebrity?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 16, 2024
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A YouTube™ celebrity is a person, and in some cases, an animal, who has gained widespread recognition on the Internet and beyond by appearing in a video featured on YouTube.com. Not all YouTube™ celebrities have achieved their status voluntarily. Particularly during the early stages of viral videos, certain YouTube™ celebrities were unaware that they had been filmed on video or that that video was later uploaded onto the Internet. In these cases, where the origin of the YouTube™ celebrity was difficult to track down, they were often given a nickname that described their video, such as “Star Wars Kid,” “Angry German Kid,” or “The Bus Uncle.”

After YouTube™ was purchased in 2006 by Google™, it saw a rise in popularity as the website for Internet videos. Since then, many companies have sought to capitalize on the potential for viral marketing inherent in videos on YouTube™. In turn, this movement has also given rise to YouTube™ celebrities such as lonelygirl15, who was featured in a series of diary-styled videos as teenage Vlogger (video blogger), Bree, but was later revealed to be professional actress, Jessica Lee Rose, who had been acting out a series of scripts pioneered by the Creative Arts Agency (CAA).

Another example of a popular YouTube™ celebrity is 26-year-old Wisconsin resident and “Queen of YouTube,” Nornna. Nornna developed a cult-following on YouTube™ through posting a series of over 600 home videos of herself and her cat, Patches. The videos feature the YouTube™ celebrity performing mundane, daily tasks, such as combing her hair or eating a corn dog in silence.

One of the most popular examples of an animal-turned-YouTube™ celebrity is “The Dramatic Hamster.” A short clip from a Japanese television show, the video features a prairie dog that turns dramatically towards the camera, giving a suspenseful stare. “Dramatic Hamster” was later parodied in a video Mash-Up by the band, Weezer for their song Pork and Beans.

YouTube™ celebrities that have used Internet video to further their careers independently in the media include Tay Zonday, Obama Girl, and Andy Milonakis. These and other YouTube™ celebrities have garnered media exposure on television, newspapers, and in some cases, acquired corporate sponsors that pay for product placement within the videos that feature them.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By snickerish — On Aug 03, 2011

YouTube is definitely an incredible sensation in itself. I mean what can't you find a video on now via YouTube? I wonder if some people have found a secret to the success of being a YouTube sensation.

I read one article about how a blogger maintains his YouTube successes as a part time job by uploading funny videos of his cat on to YouTube.

I don't know how he gets paid for it, but maybe it has to do with traffic (the amount of people that look at the video). And in that case I love that we love to look at funny animal videos that much.

Now if I could only get my dog to do some of her funny stuff on cue and on camera! I can just see her now as the next YouTube celebrity. Luckily she is just a puppy so I have plenty more years to catch her antics on film.

By sunshined — On Aug 03, 2011

The YouTube celebrity I remember best was a dog. I am always amazed at how smart dogs are, and this one was no exception. In this short video the owner was trying to determine which one of his dogs had eaten all the treats while he was gone.

After this video got so many hits, they even put up a Facebook page dedicated to the dog and had a large number of followers there as well.

If you keep your video camera handy, you never know what you see that might make you a YouTube celebrity.

By SarahSon — On Aug 02, 2011

It seems like those who put videos on YouTube trying to get a following don't do as well as those who are just putting uploading videos for the fun of it.

I remember a girl who used her webcam to show how to create the smokey eye look with eye makeup. She had a huge number of hits and was even interviewed on one of the major news networks.

I remember she said that she was a single mom and would make these videos when her son was sleeping. She had no idea how many people would end of watching these and it has made her a lot of money in the long run.

You never know when an idea that seems so simple can be a huge hit.

By mutsy — On Aug 01, 2011

@Icecream17 -I agree with what you are saying. These people are more memorable because they are so different, but I also think that people are discovered through You Tube as well.

I remember reading about a pair of guys that lip synced a cartoon song on a web camera and Google paid over $1.6 billion dollars for the rights to host the video.

There was also the video of Tom Dickson placing a cell phone in a blender. He went on to develop his own brand of merchandise and was even on the Jay Leno show. There was another signer by the name of Andy Mc Kee Drifting that was offered a recording contract with Candy Rat Records.

I also think that a lot of people with raw talent have been discovered on You Tube. In fact there are a few contestants on the variety talent show, “American’s Got Talent” that became famous because of the sheer amount of views their singing videos had.

One of these singers was a preteen opera singer. So sometimes there are people out there with a lot of talent that we would never hear about if it were not for avenues like You Tube.

By icecream17 — On Aug 01, 2011

@BrickBack - I also think that people like fact that an average citizen is featured and are often intrigued by how they did the video and what their motivation was.

It is more interesting to hear these stories of everyday people because a lot of times these are stories that we can all relate to.

I think that this is why the variety talent shows are so popular because we like to see the contestants that really can’t sing or that don’t demonstrate any talent. I remember that guy that sang, “Pants on the Ground”. He had no talent but for some reason his song and the way he sang was funny and entertaining to people that many people wanted to follow him.

Quirky people are funny and they will naturally attract more attention that the average Joe.

By BrickBack — On Aug 01, 2011

I think that anyone can really have their 15 minutes of fame. To me it is amazing what we pay attention to. Many of these You Tube videos are entertaining, but I just think that it is funny that millions of people have viewed clips of the shrimp running on a treadmill.

It is really silly. But I guess with the rise in popularity of reality shows people are looking for the quirks of real life people and animals that will give them a few laughs here and there. Somehow the polished Hollywood actor or actress does not seem as entertaining.

I think this is why if an average person makes a funny video, people will watch because they like the spontaneity.

By ddljohn — On Jul 31, 2011

@manykitties2-- my favorite youtube celebrities are all beauty gurus. They upload makeup tutorials for different looks and other beauty tips. Michelle Phan is definitely my favorite youtube celebrity.

I have so much fun watching these because I am learning about makeup techniques and different makeup brands.

I also admire these youtube celebrities because their videos grab a lot of attention from companies who want to sponsor them. So they are literally building their careers on youtube. It must be great to do something you love and have fun doing and make money off of it.

By manykitties2 — On Jul 30, 2011

Who would you consider to be your favorite YouTube celebrity? What was it about the video that really caught your attention?

For myself I tend to find cute videos my favorite, so many of my most loved YouTube celebrities are animals that have been caught doing something quirky. I loved the Roomba riding cats, the famous sea otters holding hands and of course the dramatic prairie dog.

Each video that makes it to my favorites list is always simple and good for a quick laugh or smile. I haven't really gotten into any series or multiple-posts by one user so far. Well, except for maybe Maru, the Japanese kitty who has starred in so many great clips.

By letshearit — On Jul 30, 2011

YouTube celebrities have always made me grin. I think it's great that anyone, anywhere can have their shot at 15 minutes of fame much more easily than in the past. It seems that with the advent of YouTube conventional ideas of television have been tossed to the wayside.

Individuals creating their own channels, obtaining followers and rising to an online star is just one of those amazing things about the Internet that I love. I encourage anyone with an show idea to try and make it happen online. Who knows if you'll end up the next big Internet meme? I have certainly seen some strange stars online.

By anon162459 — On Mar 23, 2011

This article should probably be expanded to include people like sxephil, Shane Dawson, nigahiga, iJustine, Tobuscus, Ray William Johnson, and the like.

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