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YouTube Stars: Where Are They Now?

Updated on September 4, 2013

Did You Finally Make it to the Big League?

Probably not. YouTube fame goes just as quickly as it comes. For anyone of us "normal folk" who have put up video clips on YouTube, you know how exciting it can be when your views hit triple digits. For some of us, a simple video can reach millions of views within a matter of weeks, forever propelling you into the world of internet fame. Internet fame is quite different from any other type of fame. In this world your fame is free for everyone to anonymously comment, criticize, chastise, praise and and downright verbally abuse, and everyone gets to read it.

So what has happened to YouTube's stars since their overnight sensation?

Charice Pempengco

“Charice Pempengco on The Ellen DeGeneres Show”

Total Views: 3,426,104 as of September 4, 2013

Charice Pempengco was born and raised in the Philippines. She started singing and competing at the age of 7 when her mother discovered her talent at the age of 4. In 2007, a fan of Charice uploaded videos of her performances from the Filipino talent show "Little Big Star" and the popular South Korean talent show "Star King," and grabbed the attention of American viewers. She was invited to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and then the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Where are they now?

Since the first time she debut in America, she had the opportunity to come out with two albums, tour the world and appear on the hit television show, Glee. Currently, Charice has planned a release of a third album in the Philippines covering some of her favorite songs and will then return to Los Angeles to work on her international album.

Charice Pempengco on The Ellen DeGeneres Show


"I Have to Deal With Stereotypes"

Total Views: 3,889,985 as of September 4, 2013

KevJumba’s real name is Kevin Wu who is born and raised in Texas. He became popular by creating a video on “I Have to Deal with Stereotypes,” talking about dealing with Asian stereotypes. Since then he has been gaining more than 2,000,000 subscribers and 25 million views of his channel. Kevin featured candid video clips of his dad and his viewers loved him. He then made a video with his dad called “I Love My Dad,” and has been featured in a few of his videos.

Where are they now?

Since his debut Kevin had the chance to work on different projects including web-based series, charity events and independent films. In 2010, his father and he participated in the 17th season of Amazing Race and got eliminated in Leg 7. In 2012, Kevin Wu released his first full length feature film, Hang Loose. Currently, he appears in pre-commercials on Cartoon Network’s Flicks.

I Have to Deal With Stereotypes


“Officially Missing You - Tamia (cover)”

Total Views: 16,457,115 as of April 15, 2013

Janice and Sonia are Korean twins born and raised in Sydney Australia. They started their YouTube channel in 2008 and created the channel name “Jayesslee” from the initials and spelling it out, "Jay" for J and "Ess" for S and "Lee" their surname. It wasn’t until 2009 when they did a cover of Tamia’s Officially Missing You that went viral and boosted their subscribers count. Since then they had their first debut concert in Los Angeles in 2010 and started touring all over the world such as the United States, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Where are they now? In 2012, they did their first headlining Asia tour visiting 8 different cities. They have also appeared on a variety of shows like E! News Asia, Channel V and the MTV show. In 2013, their channel became the second channel to reach 1 million subscribers ever in Australia. Most recently in April 2013, they had three sold out concert in Hong Kong.

Officially Missing You - Tamia (cover)

Ryan Higa

“How to be Gangster”

Total Views: 37,950,050 as of April 15, 2013

Ryan Higa started making videos with his neighborhood friends at the age of 14 with a VHS camcorder using no software or editing program. In 2006, he started a YouTube channel with Sean Fujiyoshi posting videos of them lip-synching to songs and quickly expanded beyond songs, with a variety of other comedic pieces. Some of their most popular videos include “How to Be A Nerd” and “How To Be Gangster.”

Where is he now? The success of his channel became the #1 most subscribed of all time in August 2009. Currently, he is a student at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, majoring in Film. He hopes to become a successful actor, writing, producer and perhaps his own television series.

How to be Gangster


“Gangnam Style”

Total Views: 1,279,756,953 as of February 8, 2013

Park Jae-sang also known as PSY is a South Korean singer born on December 31, 1977. During the summer of 2012, PSY uploaded his newest single called Gangnam Style and it was an instant hit. On December 21, 2012, Psy’s video was the first ever to have over a billion views. The song is about a lifestyle associated with the Gangnam District of Seoul. With it’s catchy beat and amusing dance movies, it’s no wonder the song has become an overnight sensation.

Where is he now? After this hit single, this has created many opportunities for PSY outside of South Korea. For example, he has performed live in all different regions like North America, Europe, and Asia. And if you’ve watched the Super Bowl, you might of notice a commercial featuring PSY.

Gangnam Style

Michelle Phan

Lady Gaga Poker Face Tutorial

Total Views: 33,815,349 as of February 8, 2013

Michelle Phan is born on April 11, 1987. She taught herself how to wear make-up and started a blog about it teaching people. Later, in 2006 she joined YouTube in hopes to improve and communicate better with her readers through videos. She didn’t become a make-up overnight sensation until she made a tutorial on Lady Gaga’s look in her Poker Face video.

Where is she now? Michelle Phan is still making videos for her own channel and has expanded her horizon like creating a company called ISPY. ISPY is a monthly subscription service for beauty and make-up items. She has also created another YouTube Channel called For All Women Network (FAWN) to inspire and entertain girls who enjoy fashion, beauty and contemporary lifestyle. With the expansion of her business, she is estimated to be worth $3 million.

Want to Look Like Lady Gaga?

Antoine Dodson

"The Bed Intruder Song" from AutoTune the News

Total Views: 110,767,929 as of February 8, 2013

This guy was an accidental YouTube sensation. What initially made him popular was his news interview in which his "ghetto fabulous" character really came through. Soon after that the YouTube group, AutoTune The News, took the clip and made YouTube gold with it. Dodsons fans came out in droves and he became an overnight sensation. "Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husband too cuz dey rapein errybody out here" was a jingle that caught like a wildfire in the summer time.

Where is he now? After being doing some TV appearances like Lenno and Tosh.0 it is reported that Dodson got caught with the Hollywood bug. He has moved from the online video platform of YouTube to another highbrow and respectable format, Reality TV. Apparently a crew of camera men has been documenting Dodson's move from Huntsville, Alabama to Los Angeles. That happened last year, so my guess is, the footage will probably never see the light of day. Now it is only a matter of time before Dodson becomes a valet just "waiting for his next big break."

The Original

Rebecca Black


Total Views: 47,715,676 as of February 8, 2013

You can't help but feel a bit bad for this girl. I really only mean a BIT by the way. She became instantly famous for singing one of the worst songs in history. Is it her fault? Her voice is, but the production was not. The producer of the video was also featured in it. He is the guy in the middle of the video laying down some "tight rhymes" (Quite Flaccid Really) Anyway, all she wanted was to be famous, and she got her wish. She is now famous, but as a joke. Like it or not the song is catchy. I cant tell you how may time I have contemplated weather or not I should sit in the front seat or the back seat.

Where is she now? Recording an album. Yes that's right a full album. Where her career will take her now is hard to tell (Probably not). What is interesting is her political agenda, Mexican presidential politics to be exact. The 15 year old recently went south of the border to hold a press conference endorsing Enrique Peña Nieto. She didn't use webinar software to hold the conference, she actually went to Mexico and did it live. Black doesn't speak Spanish, so everything had to be translated. I'm sure that endorsement will certainly be the clincher for Nieto.

What day is it?

Chris Crocker

"Leave Britney Alone"

Total Views: 45,560,314 as of February 8, 2013

Chris Crocker flamboyant and dramatic, but genuine and straight from the heart reaction to critics of pop singer Britney Spears comeback performance at the MTV Music Awards in 2007 became a viral hit within days of getting his YouTube video uploaded. In the video, he tearfully defended Britney Spears and lashes out at critics such as Perez Hilton, a gossip blogger, and Simon Cowell, a reality T.V. celebrity, while crying out "leave Britney alone", which became a internet meme hit as well.

Where is he now? After the viral hit, Crocker has been involved in several projects, including being featured in a Sierra Mist commercial in 2008, appeared on Comedy Central show Tosh.0 and started a music career with his first single called "Mind in the Gutter" followed by several other singles. He had a short stint as a internet correspondent for BBC's Lily Allen and Friends show in 2008. In 2011, Crocker announced that he will have his own reality show called "Me At The Zoo", which will document his life over the past few years. As of now, you can still find him vloging on YouTube ranging on topics about pop culture, politics, and of course, Britney Spears.

Officially Britney's Biggest Fan

Tay Zonday

"Chocolate Rain"

Total Views: 88,435,611 as of February 8, 2013

Adam Nyerere Bahner – born on July 6, 1982 better known by the pseudonym Tay Zonday created the hit YouTube video “Chocolate Rain” on April 22, 2007 and the song quickly became popular. This video won many awards back in 2007 such as the hottest viral video by CTV andas the #2 viral video in the world by utalkmarketing. He is well known by listeners for his baritone singing voice. As of September 12, 2012, "Chocolate Rain" has 83,388,375 views.

Where is he now? He is now an actor, singer, musician, announcer, voice artist, comedian and YouTube personality. In November 2007, he licensed the song and recorded spoof lyrics for Comedy Central, as a promo clip for their show Last Laugh with Lewis Black. He also released another video “Cherry Chocolate Rain.” This time the music video was professionally shot and is similar to the original song. The song makes fun of itself with its over-the-top visuals and mentions how Zonday was "paid a hefty, hefty fee" to do the video, as well as featuring professional rapper Mista Johnson, who repeats, "He moves his mouth away from the mic so he can breathe." The video and song were created as part of a promotional campaign for Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper.

Chocolate Rain

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