Marcus and Cody Johns talk about their "big break" and their plans for the future
Every star gets their start somewhere. And for Marcus and Cody Johns, their move to create their Vine account a few years ago completely changed the trajectory of their lives for good. Since then, both have amassed a staggering 10 million followers combined on Vine alone and their collective loops surpass the 3 billion mark.
Numbers however, prove to be one thing. Marcus and Cody admit that they didn't realize how much they had "made it" in the social media space until they met their fans. Their avid followers have been with them from the start, and even before Marcus and Cody Johns surpassed a fan-base of over 1 million users strong, they had hundreds of loyal fans. Of course, this is something the Florida-natives didn't realize until they staged a Vine meet up with them for the first time, and boy, did chaos ensue. Just imagine over five hundred passionate followers freaking out on the Santa Monica beach and you get the picture.
But no matter how insane the moment was, it was something both Marcus and Cody Johns hold close to their heart. Not only did it reinforce to them how expansive their social media reach was, but it also encouraged others to follow suit, successfully lighting the flame for many Viners in the hopes to get their own big break on the platform too.
We spoke exclusively with the social media stars of the hour about that very moment. Ahead, see what their reaction was filming their first ever meet-up and where the brothers both see themselves and their careers in the next five years.
YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, including more Marcus and Cody Johns exclusives, click here! You can also watch their new series, HeyUSAx, now by clicking here.
Did you ever have an 'aha' moment where you realized that making videos on social media would be a bigger deal than you originally thought?
Marcus Johns: So I think there was never really a specific video that went viral per say, it was kind of a gradual process. The first video that I posted, and there was some reaction but it didn't go viral by any means, I was commenting back to a lot of random people who were just checking out the video. The app was so small at the time, so everyone would see everything. And I had a couple people who would drop some comments and say "hey I really like this," and I would constantly comment back to them. I tried to be really engaging in the beginning. So I think after that first video, I thought "hey this was fun!" And the 'aha' moment wasn't like "I'm going to get famous from this app," it was more like "Aha, I love this! This is an amazing, fun, addicting app." However, I thought in the back of my mind that I wanted to invest my time in this space because I felt like it would end up being the next YouTube. And to scale, it sort of was, especially in 2013-2014, it was the number one app.
We also had another big 'aha' moment when me and Cody did our first meet-up in Santa Monica. We just told our fans, "Hey! We'd love to meet you guys and we'd love to make a Vine with a bunch of people." We didn't even expect people to come, we just kind of wanted to make a group Vine with all of the people who comment on all of our stuff -- and we didn't know if these people were even real. This was at at time before people actually saw crowds meeting social media people. I was the first one to do that on Vine, and really social media in general. So we did that first meet up and we had over 500 people show up. And I didn't even have a million followers at the time. It was crazy! I think it was the 'aha' moment of "Wait, this is real." We had a running joke called Vine fame, like "Oh I'm famous like all the other Viners," and we'd make jokes about it because we had all these numbers, but it wasn't a real tangible thing. But ever since that moment, it really just blew up.
I think when people saw that video, they thought, "Is this kid famous?" Because the Vine was kind of a joke about being Vine famous, and it was like a huge unveiling because we didn't know who would show up or how many people would. The skit was essentially Cody asking me, "Do you think anyone is going to show up to this meeting?" And I would say, "No probably just a couple of little girls" and then it cuts to me running on the beach with 500 people chasing me. And what people didn't know was that when I did walk on the beach, it was pandemonium. People were just screaming and yelling and I had to wrangle them together. And then after the Vine, we took pictures under the sun for like 8 hours, or something ridiculous! I think that skit put it in people's minds that they could get famous on this app, and a lot of people really started crushing Vine then and saw how lucrative it was. That was a birth of an era.
Between HeyUSA_X and your channels, you guys are doing a lot right now. Where do you see your careers going five years from now?
Marcus Johns: I want to be doing exactly what I'm doing now, just on a larger scale. I have always loved the entire process, from sitting down in a brainstorming room, to writing our final draft, to shooting. And I love cinematography and performing. I feel like I can do each job in the film industry so I feel like I want to do every single part of what goes into making into a film seriously and really just change it up once in a while. But it's definitely headed towards films or docuseries; I can see myself really in cinema and digital too.
Cody Johns: I kind of agree with Marcus. I like what I'm doing now and to be able to do this stuff, but just on a bigger scale would be great. I consider myself a jack of all trades and I like to bounce from one thing to another; sometimes I may get bored with what I'm doing. So I just want to be able to enjoy what I'm doing. I don't need to be a massive star; I'm glad that I'm able to work and make a living just making the art I'm making. It's a good feeling to know that I'm doing what I love everyday and I can choose to do what I'm loving at this stage in my life. Marcus and I aspire to do bigger projects but at the same time, I think we're both so happy. We've fast-forwarded our career up to a decade or longer by immersing ourselves in digital and it was kind of an accident. Marcus and I started off very traditionally, we had agents, we were auditioning, so we've been in the business for a long time and have aspired to entertainers and to be able to do it now on this type of scale at our age just makes us feel really blessed.
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