Lia Marie Johnson isn't your typical actress. That's because she got her start on YouTube, appearing in various web series created by the Fine Brothers, including the Emmy-winning web series "Kids React." Her own personal YouTube channel boasts almost 2 million followers and over 110 million total video views.
Johnson's rise to social stardom led her to become a breakthrough actress, scoring a role in the new thriller "The Thinning." She's proof that YouTubers can break the mold, go into more traditional acting roles, and hold their own alongside some of Hollywood's most notable performers. In short, she's completely changing how the entertainment industry casts young actors and actresses.
We recently spoke to the social media trailblazer at the year's PlayList Live in Orlando, an event that brings together some of the biggest online influencers and their fans for one jam-packed weekend. Ahead, we spoke to Lia Marie Johnson about her start in social media, what she loves most about acting, and more!
A post shared by Lia Marie Johnson (@lia) on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:10pm PST
What brings you to PlayList live in Orlando? Is this your first year here? How are you liking it so far?
I came to show an exclusive sneak peak of my new film "The Thinning." This is my third year here, and I just flew in Sunday morning, but so far it's been awesome!
How did you get started in social media?
It was never part of my plan to be on social media. I was acting and singing as a child. My mom uploaded videos of me on YouTube so my Grandma could see me and people started watching them. Then I got a role in a Fine Brothers sketch, which led to "Kids React," and then I started working with Awesomeness TV and creating a lot more content and everything just took off from there.
What was the moment you realized this could be a big part of your future?
I don't think there was just one moment. It's been years of work and building towards this and I feel like I'm just getting started as I look ahead and prepare for the future.
What's your favorite thing about YouTube?
The freedom to create whatever I want and post whenever I want to. Acting and recording music and a lot of the projects I've been working on have taken up a lot of my time this year, so I've had less time to make YouTube videos. I've been putting a lot of my creative energy towards writing my own music, and sometimes it's hard to create for so many platforms at once. But I can't wait to share some of the behind-the-scenes footage on my YouTube channel when I can.
How do you block out any Internet haters/negative comments?
A lot of times when I see negative comments I just ignore them, I've learned to do that over the years. But sometimes when you're having a bad day, the tiniest thing can get to you. I wish people wouldn't spread negativity and hate, but there's not much I can do about it. You have to understand that those people, for whatever reason, are projecting their insecurities on you.
What advice would you give for someone trying to get started in social media?
It all depends on what your end goal is. Social media is a great way to connect with people and spread creativity. So focus on creating, having a solid brand and staying loyal to your earliest followers.
How did you fall in love with music? I've always loved music. It's always been a huge part of my life. Growing up I was constantly singing and humming everywhere I went. I can't imagine my life without music, it's helped to build who I am as a person.
A post shared by Lia Marie Johnson (@lia) on Dec 13, 2015 at 11:58am PST
What do you hope viewers take away after watching your videos online?
Well recently I've been trying different formats on my channel, trying to find what I like best. And I think people realize that and I hope they can take away that I'm learning about myself just like they are.
How did you get involved with "The Thinning"?
I've worked with Michael Gallagher (director and co-writer) before and we're represented by the same agency, so they sent me the script and I fell in love with the storyline. We had a meeting and talked about the characters and then I had an audition and booked the role of Ellie!
What's your favorite thing about acting?
I love everything about acting, but there's something really special about spending time and getting to know this character you've created for an extended period of time.
A post shared by Lia Marie Johnson (@lia) on Oct 31, 2015 at 6:55pm PDT
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