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Have YouTube and Vine overtaken Hollywood stars?

Screenshots from some of the most popular celebrities online (clockwise from top left): Jenna Marbles, Smosh, The Fine Bros and Logan Paul.
Screenshots from some of the most popular celebrities online (clockwise from top left): Jenna Marbles, Smosh, The Fine Bros and Logan Paul.

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Being a star in Hollywood used to require just a few things: A good agent, nice teeth, bankability and maybe some talent. Maybe. But to ink a deal in 2014, you just need a camera and a computer.

The top five celebrities with the most influence on teens are all self-made online. Just below them are mainstream movie stars like Jennifer Lawrence and the late Paul Walker.

"The stars of Youtube and Vine are interacting with audiences in ways that decades of Hollywood experience doesn't tell us to do," says Andrew Wallenstein, editor-in-chief of Variety which commissioned the survey.

(source: Variety)

What counts as popular: YouTuber PewDiePie, for example, who narrates himself playing video games. Or the Fine Brothers who will record kids reacting to things like typewriters or -- very meta -- PewDiePie.


"As a 41-year-old, I'm almost ill-equipped to explain it to you. It's almost like a cultural dog-whistle," says Wallenstein. "To anyone over 30, it's undetectable. Below 30, I think it's kind of a piercing scream."

But that popularity has a lot of power.

Take Logan Paul, 19, who's a star on Vine with more than five million followers. That's an audience that surpassed even Game of Thrones.

"My brother had 400 followers, and I had 200, and he taunted me one day because he had more followers," Paul said about his start. "The next day, I was like, I need to be more famous than my brother."

"Not even I can fathom how amazing this is and being so young and all the stuff I've gotten to do because of these stupid little six-second videos," Paul said.

Paul moved to Los Angeles from Ohio just a few months ago, and has parlayed his stardom into sponsorship deals with Hanes and Pepsi, and a role in the upcoming Fox series "Weird Loners."

His Hollywood appeal is pretty simple. 

"My audience is almost the untouched demographic," said Paul. "The 18-24 year old is my main demographic, and as you know, that's an extremely hard demographic to reach."

He's reaching that demographic, but he also has his own designs on where he wants to go since his move to LA.

"I want to pursue entertainment beyond social media, because social media is great, Vine is great and it's my baby, that's how everyone knows who Logan Paul is," he said.

"But, social media, I think, can only take you so far. When I'm 40 years old, do I want to be telling my kids, if I have any, 'yeah, I'm a Vine star' still?

"I'm never going to let that digital side of me go, ever. That's my audience, that's who has grown up with me this past year. Whatever I do, I just hope they follow me and go along with me through this journey."