The internet, ever since its inception, has been at the forefront of creating – music, content, and now celebrities. Although the concept of internet fame can be traced back to the Chris Crocker days, world wide web celebrities and Hollywood celebrities have always stayed in separate spheres, that is until YouTuber Jake Paul swooped in and broke all the rules.
At 20 years old, the vlogger is at the head of a Gen-Z empire and is worth millions – of followers and subscribers, not to mention a fair share of haters. He boasts 11.8 million YouTube subscribers, 10 million Instagram followers, and 2.6 million Twitter followers.
You see, even if the name Jake Paul doesn’t ring a bell, you know who he is. He’s probably appeared on your feed or timeline in a Vine (R.I.P.) video or maybe a stunt video à la Jackass. You know him – everyone does.
“I think a lot of social media creators have always been like content and haven’t pushed the limits because no one else had pushed the limits before,” Paul tells EW. “I say to myself, how can I create my own TV show online everyday and actually make it a real production and put effort into it.”
It is that mentality that made Paul’s rise to fame and dominance of the internet possible. After deciding not to finish high school he moved to Los Angeles along with his brother Logan Paul (also internet famous), eventually producing a lengthy reel of Vines and strong fan base in hopes of becoming America’s next big star.
Even though there are more than a handful of YouTube stars out there making a decent living and enjoying a somewhat D-list celebrity status, that’s not Jake Paul’s reality. Thanks to his daily vlog and #jakepaulers (that’s what his followers are called), in 2016 he landed a gig with Disney in the show Bizaardvark. All of a sudden social media fame was merging with one of the most powerful entertainment giants and Jake Paul cemented his fame and legitimacy in Hollywood – but it didn’t last long.
“Moving forward the most successful people in the entertainment industry will be 50 percent social and 50 percent traditional, so working with Disney and being super traditional, it brought a whole different audience to me,” Paul says. “I learned that something like that is valuable and beneficial for myself and Disney because I brought a new audience to them as well.”
The separation came after Paul had been making headlines after his West Hollywood neighbors complained about his rowdy behavior. There were talks of the neighbors meeting with city officials. All Paul did was burn some furniture in his empty pool for a vlog and — obviously – the culture. The headlines and public separation did nothing but add more speculation to this already buzzing career as the internet’s bad boy; needless to say the savvy young man has capitalized on it.
Paul is now the CEO of Team10, an incubator for up-and-coming social stars – or as its website describes it, “a squad of young like minded individuals who teamed up to take over Hollywood.” He also released a rap song, randomly, because he thought it would be fun to do so. The song, “It’s Every Day Bro” was a viral success with equal amounts of support and vicious hate behind it. Paul recognizes he won’t get a Grammy for his music, but to him it is all about having fun and “a dope beat and lyrics.”
“I think its funny because I am not a musician! I want to make music and songs about things that real musicians and artist aren’t able to make songs about – you wouldn’t hear Justin Bieber making a song about homework or, like, you wouldn’t see someone make a song with their parents on the track,” Paul says about his rap song.
Besides all the side hustles Paul is part of, his vlog and loyalty to YouTube remain. Currently starring in YouTube Red’s The Fight of the Living Dead: Paradise Calls, the series is sort of a Survivor meets Amazing Race but for millennials. Paul describes it as a “Coachella with zombies” and no cell phone for three whole days – a true nightmare.
The goal of the game is to help the team survive, while completing missions and avoid getting bit by a zombie. Paul agreed to do the show because he always wondered what “a zombie apocalypse would look like.”
“We were sleeping on couches, sleeping on the floor, and what you don’t realize in the taping is that it was legitimately 100 degrees or more throughout the daytime,” Paul said. “We were running sprints, jumping fences, and running away from zombies. It got super intense.”
The Fight of the Living Dead: Paradise Calls also trapped YouTubers Juanpa Zurita, Hannah Stocking, Wengie, Anwar Jibawi, De’arra Taylor and Ken Walker, Karina Garcia, Eric Ochoa, Anthony Trujillo, and Miles Jai in the zombie fest.
“No one was competing against each other. Everyone wanted people to survive. It was always a sad moment when someone would get attacked by a zombie,” Paul says about working with fellow YouTube stars.
And despite all his current success and fandom, Paul thinks this is only just the beginning. “I feel like I haven’t even gotten started yet and I have so much more to offer and inspire so many more people and have even more fun than I’m having now,” he says.
Fight of the Living Dead: Paradise Calls streams Wednesdays on YouTube Red.