Few things are offered, and subsequently retracted, as frequently as our attention. Netflix asks if we’re “still watching” after several episodes of a series, assuming no one would commit more than several hours to deeply thoughtful storytelling. Quibi, alternatively, called for just 10 minutes of investment…that was apparently too much. Because, while anyone can fluke their way to 10 seconds of viral fame with relatively little effort, consistently delivering quality content mandates likability of and real labor by the creator. Only then do online entertainers secure modernity’s most valuable resource: a follow. Whether they’re caricaturing generational grievances or body rolling to Top 40 bops, these are the 10 writers/directors/producers/performers/editors whose engaging short-form entertainment brought them long-term staying power.
It’s easy to draw a comparison between Addison Rae and Britney Spears. The all-American teen blondes both danced their way from Louisiana to Los Angeles and into unfathomable fame, but the key distinction between the pair lies in their strategy—being that Rae never really had any. While Britney Spears was conceptualized between Max Martin and Disney, Addison Rae captured the attention of teens across the nation and catapulted to superstardom entirely on her own. The recipe was simple: After witnessing the popularity of Music.ly’s latest iteration with preteens, the cheerleader signed on. Soon her smile and side split had amassed tens of millions on TikTok and beyond...but you best believe this is only the beginning of the Addison Rae entertainment experience.
To engage with the internet regularly is to have found a friend in “Parklynn.” You may not recognize the name, but you certainly would the face—or the swinging wig and high kicks—of her creator, New York–Texan dancer Parker Kit Hill. In the description of a Parklynn compilation video, a fan writes, “I only uploaded this so I could watch it on my TV,” which was coincidentally exactly where Kit Hill would soon be. The 24-year-old Vine alum has scored spots on Broad City and is pursuing acting, while his style aptitude secures his partnerships with megabrands Target and Farfetch. As such, prepare for the social media sensation to be coming soon to a much bigger small screen near you, because with or without Parklynn, Kit Hill is ready to shimmy into the big leagues.
We’ve long since relegated roller skates to sepia-hued nostalgia: ’70s boardwalk babes in bikinis sailing through a simpler time. But no one predicted Ana Coto, let alone “Ana Octo,” the actress’s magnetic alter ego. Donning Euphoria-inspired outfits, “Octo” seems to have single-handedly wheeled the sport back into pop culture—courtesy of TikTok. Pirouetting from studio films to star of the skate community in the space of three years, the Cuban-American’s stratospheric vault to online icon status is remarkable. Now she boasts over a million disciples on the app, all tuning into Coto’s scheduled programming. As to where we might find her next, who she’ll showcase, what trick to expect, and, of course, how she’ll pull off her latest look, that’s for “Ana Octo” to decide.
By the time Rachel Nguyen’s original fashion blog, That’s Chic, took off in the early days of the art form in 2007, the blogger-turned-YouTuber had already come of age on the internet. From hanging out on fashion forums to creating pixel art as a kid, Nguyen’s approach has always been diving headfirst towards her interests and finding community. As several generations of bloggers have already come and gone, this content creator’s holistic, personal storytelling and travel diaries have kept her firmly in the mix. The vlogger’s visual diary is as radically vulnerable as it is chic.
Jordan Firstman direct-messages Reese Witherspoon. But that’s not all. The 28-year-old writer/producer/comedian also buries the lede. Firstman will exalt his love for Laura Dern long before mentioning he wrote the Indie Spirit Awards’ viral segment dedicated to the actress. He unravels his overarching interaction with Instagram well prior to admitting his follow count shot from 15,000 to over 20 times that number in just three months. He expresses disbelief at his famous fans (read: Ariana Grande and Jennifer Anniston), revealing only when pressed that he’s quietly formed friendships with each of them. Firstman’s unshakeable humility is exasperating, albeit on-brand. His ability to breathe life into daily objects, social media trends, or universal grievances with impression speaks of someone who connects best to the everyman—although Jordan Firstman himself is anything but.
When Jay Versace started making Vines back in 2014, the young creator was working with six seconds at a time to make an impression. Years later, you can watch each moment by the compilation, 20+ minutes at a time. While his success has launched him towards his greatest passion—music—Versace’s life online has been informed by years of inspiration from the subtlest places. Even though he’s not making videos anymore, find out how the budding beatmaker’s sense of humor is the gift that keeps on giving.
Between vapid vampires and backhanding Brandy Melville, somehow Lauren Servideo wound up the voice of our generation. It makes sense that a once-aspiring journalist might be able to so effectively articulate our daily trials or trauma, but only the NYC-based comedian can make it so funny. However, she makes it known that we shouldn’t label her as such. Despite the fact her destiny is pronounced with the last three syllables of her name, Servideo claims she doesn’t deserve titles designed to describe creative talent—you know, artist, actor, writer, or comedian. But in reality, she’s all of these things—we’re just lucky to catch her before she believes it.
Any influencer could tell you there’s no one way to stand out in a (virtual) crowd, but for Edward Zo, the rise to the top of our feeds wasn’t without a few pit stops. When the actor and musician arrived in Los Angeles just a few years ago to pursue his dreams, he was hit with the harsh reality that Hollywood had a ways to go before they could represent him fairly. After a short stint on the Magcon tour that brought some of YouTube’s heartthrobs to a meet-and-greet near you, he’s been doling out his expertise on men’s fashion and grooming and stealing the hearts of K-pop fans on TikTok.
If you were to ask Luke Meagher what makes his style of fashion critique so appealing, the HauteLeMode founder would point to his own YouTube banner that breaks it down in four words: Fun. Sassy. Bi**hy. Analytical. In addition to being all of the aforementioned, Meagher is also still technically a college student finishing a degree from FIT and effecting change in the fashion industry from his bedroom. While he’s no stranger to an online skirmish, the new-age critic is distinct for this important quality: He only dishes what he can take.
It can be hard to distinguish the real from the faux online. With endless filters, smoke, and mirrors being a regular part of altering perception on the internet, this influencer’s appeal goes way beyond the surface. Popping up on Instagram in 2016, Lil Miquela has since become a small phenomenon. She might not even exist in the physical world, but with a whopping 2.5M followers on Instagram, a budding music career, and appearances in fashion campaigns alongside the likes of Bella Hadid, this influencer doesn’t even need to be human to show she’s the real deal.