Sean O'Donnell dishes on the beginnings of his social media fame

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Peaceful evenings at Manhattan Beach

A photo posted by Sean O'Donnell (@theseanodonnell) on

In the 21st century, social media seems to be everywhere we look. For some people, it's their job, for others a hobby.

For up-and-coming actor Sean O'Donnell, it's been a big part of his career. Though O'Donnell was one of the last people in his friend group in high school to get started on Instagram, he quickly rose through the follower ranks.

Already having an affinity for photography, O'Donnell managed to hit 5,000 followers not long after he joined the platform. Before he graduated high school, he had accumulated over 300,000 followers. Today, he has over a million just on Instagram.

Though O'Donnell considers himself to be an actor first and foremost, his passion for social media and love for photography certainly haven't hurt his career.

We had a chance to chat with O'Donnell about his social media path and how it's helped his career in acting. Read the full interview below.

#YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases rising talents. To see more past interviews, including more features on Sean O'Donnell, click here.

The white heat of Los Angeles mid day at Venice Skatepark

A photo posted by Sean O'Donnell (@theseanodonnell) on

What was it like being able to interact with your fans at VidCon?

It is always a very surreal experience because it blends a realism to what I see through a computer screen. They are just numbers on a computer screen and then you show up there and there's hundreds of people waiting to meet you. I'll always be just a small town kid from New York, so it's just insane to me. It's really really flattering.

When did you first get started on Instagram?

I was in 10th grade and I was the last kid in my grade to get Instagram. I was so against it, but eventually I cracked. I started posting most of my photography on there and built up a following. I remember when I hit 5,000 followers, which was ginormous for me back then. I thought that there would be someone who would want to capitalize on this, so I may as well go as big as I can, and I just put some effort into it in high school. I graduated with around 300,000, and it was wild. It was crazy in high school.

You're now over a million, what was running through your mind when you hit that number?

It always gets put into perspective when I see people I look up to, or things I enjoy that have an Instagram account that have lower numbers than I do. And that is just crazy to me. It comes back to me just considering myself to be a small town kid from New York. I feel like I don't deserve a million followers over this person or that person, it's wild. This whole social media generation has never been seen before, and it's just the tip of the iceberg.

Do you think that social media is going to change the way you operate as an actor?

It definitely already has. I've been in LA for three years know and I've already seen a bunch of different changes. Three years ago when I would walk into a room, a lot of people were pretty against social media numbers, they didn't care. Now, you need to have some good numbers to get your foot in the door. It's starting to fade back to more of the traditional setting -- they just want a very good actor. I always market myself as an actor first, and social media comes second. I've been training since the day I got here and I want to be an actor first, and the social media portion is something extra.

When did you pick up photography?

I was really young, I probably 13 or 14 and I loved the ability to capture a moment in time. I moved around a lot as a kid -- a lot -- so being able to freeze that moment with all of the emotions and memories attached, whether they're good or bad, they're something I want to remember and I can go back to my couple hundred thousand photos and know exactly what I was thinking and feeling at that moment. It's a very important part of my life.

Do you see it sticking with you for the rest of your life then?

Yeah, I can't really see my life without a camera in it somehow. It's easy, I could do it until I'm 95. I'm happy about that.

Where do you see the progression of your career going in the next few years, whether that be acting or social media?

I'm very excited about the next year. I feel like the next year is going to come to a breaking point that puts me more in the public eye for acting, where I have MamaBoy coming out this fall and I have a couple of projects on the horizon that I can't speak to yet, but they'll push me forward into a more serious acting career and I am very excited.

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