Launched in 2005, YouTube was conceived as a platform to share personal videos and TV clips. However, it wasn’t long before users began producing their own original content and the first bona fide YouTube stars were born – many of whom were Asian American.
These “first generation” stars included the likes of comedian Ryan Higa, makeup guru Michelle Phan and musician David Choi. While they may not exactly be household names, their reach cannot be underestimated. For example, Ryan Higa has the fifth-most subscribed-to channel on YouTube, with an astounding 8.7 million subscribers – ranking him above many artists with mainstream popularity such as One Direction, PSY and even Justin Bieber.
The runaway success of these online celebs has inspired other Asian Americans to start their own YouTube channels. These next generation stars offer an even broader range of topics and styles, including everything from exercise tips to violin versions of the latest radio hits.
One of the biggest current YouTube sensations is fitness expert Mike Chang, who teaches viewers how to lose weight, build muscle and get six-pack abs. Hip-hop choreographer Pat Lam showcases his dance crew’s slick moves with high-energy sets performed to the latest club anthems.
Did you know you could use turmeric powder and buttermilk to help get rid of dark eye circles? Blogger Farah Dhukai does. Her channel offers holistic beauty advice for hair, skin care and makeup. And instead of singing cover versions of popular songs like most online musicians, Jun Sung Ahn performs classical reinterpretations of them on his violin – everything from Maroon 5 to Bruno Mars.
These are just a few of the many emerging Asian American stars in the viral universe. Whether they join the ranks of the YouTube elite is entirely up to you.