From the ill-timed whiteheads and passive-aggressive Livejournal posts to just feeling sad as fuck a lot, there were many times in high school when I wished I could just disappear. That's one of the reasons why I'm so fascinated by teenagers who are super famous on Vine, YouTube, Snapchat, and other forms of social media. They don't just draw a lot of attention to themselves—they're courting it.
If the everyday pressures of high school are enough to break the average teenager, what are your freshman through senior years like when you're kind of a big deal online? To find out, I spoke with three such young people: Sabrina Cruz, aka @NerdyAndQuirky; Michael Ofili, aka Metroo; and Demetrius Harmon, aka meechonmars. Here's what they had to say.
The following interviews have been edited and condensed.
Sabrina Cruz, aka @NerdyAndQuirky
Cruz is a 17-year-old YouTuber from Toronto, Ontario, who makes talking head-style videos on pop culture and comedy. Her YouTube channel boasts 133,000 subscribers, and her videos have accumulated more than 6.1 million views.
How would you describe your YouTube channel?
Nerdy and quirky… I think my username says it all.
Do people at school know about your YouTube channel?
A lot of my friends make it their goal in life to make sure everyone at school knows about my YouTube channel, no matter what I do about it. Honestly, it's not that bad. People are very nice about it, but occasionally people walking in the hallway or a random person will say, "You! I watch your YouTube videos!" and then they walk away and I never see them again. It's weird!
What year are you in school?
Senior in high school. Just started.
Is everyone crazy with college applications?
Luckily, in Canada, the application process isn't as stressful as it seems in the States, where you have to write numerous exams and application forms. I sign up for various programs at some point in November, but it's not that stressful.
Will you mention your channel in your college apps?
I plan on bringing it up because I think that YouTube is a good thing to add.
What are you interested in studying? Entertainment?
I'm actually not interested in going into entertainment. The field I'm studying is going to be more business and math, finance.
Do you think you'll ever stop making videos?
I'm hoping that, in my future, I'm still making YouTube videos. I can always incorporate my business education into my YouTube channel so I don't end up like, "Oh, here's a degree. I don't know what to do with it."
Michael Ofili, aka Metroo
Ofili is a 17-year-old aspiring comedian from Maryland, who produces dynamic, tightly coordinated sketches with friends and classmates at his eerily comedically gifted school. His Vine account has more than 246,000 followers, and his six-second sketches have accumulated more than 216.2 million loops.
Do people at school know about your Vine?
It's crazy. We're regular people, but some students turn up like we're celebrities. One of us will be walking down the hallway, and they'll recognize us and be like, "Oh, it's Metroo! Oh!" It's weird.
What was your breakout video?
This Vine that I did in my classroom where I'm taking a test with one of my friends. I ask for his answers, but he disses me and gives his test to the teacher. Then, they both start engaging in some shmoney dancing to "I Don't Fuck with You." It hit about 10 million loops in about a week.
Do you ever feel like people expect you to be "on" all the time?
Yeah, actually, I guess that's how it is when people see me in the hallway. They're like, "Do something funny!" or they pull out their phones trying to get me to do improv comedy. What my friends and I do in our videos is all planned out. Sometimes I don't sleep because I'm working on a storyboard for a Vine.
Do you want to be in the entertainment industry some day?
Yeah, I wanna be in movies. I use Vine as a visual résumé to get me into auditions. I've always wanted to be on the big screen.
Are there any comedians or comics you look up to?
Kevin Hart. His drive is impeccable. As an actor, he murders any role that you give him. It's inspiring.
What grade are you in?
I'm 17. In 12th grade.
Is everyone neck-deep in college applications?
Yes, they're already on us with college applications. It will get crazier, but the anxiety is already through the roof. My friends and I are still trying to manage to make videos and do what we do, but we don't want to fall off applying to the colleges of our dreams.
Have you, GirlsLoveCj, ShowwwTimee, and the rest of your friends talked about what will happen with your Vine collaborations after graduation?
Oh man, we've been doing that. I'm happy, but, at the same time, I'm sort of anxious. Graduation day is going to close a big chapter of our lives. We're going to have to find another way to keep the audience with us, but we'll try and do it.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to get into comedy through Vine?
First of all, be true to your comedy. There's always gonna be somebody who tells you that you can't do this, you can't do that. Be confident, stay motivated, and hustle. We wouldn't have gotten to where we are now if we didn't hustle. When we get to school, we have maybe 10 to 15 minutes to record these videos before class. Whatever timeframe we have, we make it work.
Demetrius Harmon, aka meechonmars
Harmon is a 17-year-old from Detroit, Mich., who hopes to translate his Vine success into the entertainment industry (if culinary school doesn't grab him first). He has more than 832,000 followers and 788.3 million loops on Vine. His Instagram numbers are also pretty impressive, with a follower count that exceeds 44,600.
Do people at school recognize you from Vine?
Sometimes people will come up to me and be like, "I like your Vines!" or they'll bring their friends and be like, "That's meechonmars!"
Do people always expect you to be "on"?
Yeah, that happens everywhere. I would say it happens the most at school. People always expect me to be in funny mode, and then they do meet me and I'm kinda relaxed and casual. They're kinda underwhelmed.
What year are you in school?
Senior in high school.
Is everyone at school going crazy with college applications?
It's not that crazy right now. I'm looking at University of Chicago.
What are you interested in studying?
It's a tie between something involving videography and culinary arts. I've always been interested in cooking, and I've kind of, like, incorporated it into my cooking videos on YouTube. It varies from something simple like fried chicken to, like, making brownies from scratch. I definitely want to pursue acting.
Are there any actors you look up to?
Michael B. Jordan. I've followed him since he was on Teen Nick. And I'll see any movie that has Will Smith.
Oh my god, I had no idea Michael B. Jordan was ever on Teen Nick. Who are some of your favorite Viners?
Dope Island, Victor Pope Jr, enjajaja, and Captain Kirk. Dope Island's my best friend, like, before social media.
What's it like succeeding alongside your friend?
It's amazing. Back when we first started, that was the plan: to see us succeed together. Like, we're both succeeding on such a large scale, and to be best friends outside of social media is what keeps it all there, you know?
Speaking of success, you're represented professionally, right?
I'm signed to Collab. It's a lot more professional having someone in my corner making sure my business is all done properly. Last year, the person I hosted a party for didn't pay me the money he was supposed to. I didn't get a deposit, and then he just, like, disappeared.
A lot of your Vines seem really cathartic, like you're finally getting the chance to vent about or laugh off some annoying thing that happened earlier in the day. Is that accurate?
Yeah, that's accurate. It feels good, but the best thing is hearing the responses from people and the effect I have on them. People comment saying, "I had a horrible day until I saw the thing that you posted."
You've been really open about your experiences with depression on Twitter.
Going through it myself, I would say a lot of people don't understand depression. They judge it. If I can share my story and it can help someone else, then why not share it, you know?
Bad at filling out bios seeks same.