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Top 10 Actors You Didn't Know Got Their Start on YouTube

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Oliver Skinner
We’re not the only ones who got their big break on YouTube. These are the Top 10 Actors You Didn't Know Got Their Start on YouTube! For this list, we’re looking at actors who rose to mainstream fame after kick-starting their careers on the video sharing site you’re likely watching this at this very moment.
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Top 10 Actors You Didn't Know Got Their Start on YouTube

We’re not the only ones who got their big break on YouTube. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Actors You Didn't Know Got Their Start on YouTube.
For this list, we’re looking at actors who rose to mainstream fame after kick-starting their careers on the video sharing site you’re likely watching this at this very moment.

#10: Jon Lajoie

While he may have started out as just an “everyday normal guy” when he was first uploading hilarious rap parodies to the Internet, this Montreal comic soon caught the attention of fans the world over. Lajoie produced the viral videos “I Kill People” and “Show Me Your Genitals” before being recruited to play the role of Taco MacArthur, a stoner and musician, on the fantasy football themed TV show “The League.” He even made it all the way to the big screen, most notably as Damon Wayans, Jr.’s boss in “Let’s Be Cops.” Although his YouTube channel has been relatively silent in 2018, we’re still laughing as we watch his classics and await whatever Lajoie doest next.

#9: Beck Bennett

Most of you probably know Mr. Bennett from his stint on SNL or as the dude interviewing children in AT&T’s “It’s Not Complicated” commercials. What you may not know is that Beck Bennett cut his teeth in comedy after forming the YouTube sketch troupe Good Neighbor with the guys who would become his long-time collaborators: Kyle Mooney and Nick Rutherford. After receiving praise from the likes of Spielberg and Louis C.K., Bennett scored on-screen roles in “Last Man Standing” and “Arrested Development.” But after Good Neighbor produced a Comedy Central pilot that failed to be picked up, he and his group packed up and moved to New York City to join the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”

#8: Bo Burnham

This multi-talented YouTuber began posting satirical songs back in 2006, and has since grown to become a serious player in the industry. After taking his material to the stage, it became clear that Bo Burnham had wide appeal as an entertainer. But he also showed creative drive behind the camera when he created the short-lived MTV series “Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous,” in which he also starred in. A number of Netflix stand-up specials later, and Burnham has written and directed the Sundance hit coming-of-age film “Eighth Grade. The 2018 movie about the pitfalls of growing up in today’s digital age was inspired by his own struggles with social anxiety.

#7: Adam DeVine, Blake Anderson & Anders Holm

Did you know that the principal cast of roommate sitcom “Workaholics” all got their starts as part of the YouTube improv group “Mail Order Comedy”? That’s right: after racking up enormous amounts of views online with their sidesplitting videos, the group caught the attention of Comedy Central, and their series, “Workaholics,” was picked up and aired for 7 seasons. DeVine has probably achieved the most solo success, landing major roles in the “Pitch Perfect” franchise, “Modern Family” and “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” But the friends still work best as a trio, which is apparent from the 2018 Netflix action-comedy they wrote and starred in: “Game Over, Man!”

#6: Darren Criss

Daniel Radcliffe isn’t the only young actor who got famous portraying the boy wizard. Darren Criss first garnered attention for his starring role in “A Very Potter Musical”: a stage musical put on with classmates that was recorded and uploaded to YouTube to become an overnight sensation. His true ascent to stardom, however, was his breakout guest role playing Blaine Anderson in “Glee” - eventually joining the show’s main cast as Kurt’s love interest. Criss has made a fruitful film and Broadway career for himself, appearing in everything from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” to the TV series “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” for which he is nominated for an Emmy. Accio, trophy!

#5: Kyle Mooney

Many a middle school student has been voted “most likely to become a TV star,” but we wonder, for how many does that prophecy come true? It did for Kyle Mooney, who went on to study Film at USC, where he met Beck Bennett and formed the sketch group Good Neighbor. Sticking together, they joined the main cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 2013, and Mooney went so far as to bring along some of his YouTube personas. The oddball comedian kept some of his most beloved characters alive for the move to network television, including fan favorite street interviewers “4/20 smoking guy” and Chris Fitzpatrick.

#4: Andy Samberg

This “Hot Rod” star was pretty much destined to become a famous comedic actor. Samberg was obsessed with SNL since childhood. After majoring in experimental film at NYU, he started to craft comedy videos with his friends under the moniker The Lonely Island, and they promptly blew up once YouTube was invented. The Lonely Island started writing for SNL in 2005, where Samberg was featured as a performer and writer until 2012. The rest is history: Samberg has starred in some of the most-quotable tv and film comedies of the 2000s, including “Hot Rod”, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

#3: Billy Eichner

Accosting strangers on the street is a nightmare for most people, but Billy Eichner turned it into comedy gold. He first waylaid his way into the mainstream in 2011 as the creator and host of Funny Or Die’s “Billy on the Street”. As he told Vanity Fair, it “started off as segments in [his] live show, then became segments online, then became a long-form show…” His rambunctious alter-ego, who forced pop culture down the throats of New Yorkers, was such a hit that the actor was cast in a role on “Parks and Recreation” and a voice part in “Bob’s Burgers” before later joining the cast of Hulu’s “Difficult People” and getting the Ryan Murphy treatment in “American Horror Story: Cult.” of course, he did all this while impressively continuing his beloved “Billy on the Street.”


“My gut tells me that Billy on the Street has always been a bit of an evolving animal. It started off in segments in my live show, then became segments online, then became a long-form show on one network, then moved to another network, but still had pieces going viral all the time . . .”

#2: Dylan O’Brien

He’s a big-time heartthrob thanks to leading roles in “The Maze Runner” trilogy and CW series “Teen Wolf,” but it almost didn’t turn out that way. O’Brien was originally set on pursuing sports broadcasting when he started developing a web presence with original videos on YouTube. These laugh-out-loud clips caught the eye of a local director who cast O’Brien in a web series during his senior year of high school… and most importantly connected him with a manager. O’Brien set aside his sportscasting ambitions and started carving out an acting career that has seen him become one of the fastest rising young actors of his generation.

#1: Donald Glover

Upon graduating university, Glover joined the sketch group Derrick Comedy, whose viral videos grew into the feature film “Mystery Team”... During this time, Glover’s work with the group earned him writing job on “30 Rock” at the tender age of 23. Although YouTube no longer happens to be his main platform, Glover is always creating: He’s the creator and star of the FX series “Atlanta”, an A-list actor who plays Lando in “Solo” and Simba in the 2019 “Lion King” reboot. Oh and he’s also a talented musician who has performed under the stage name Childish Gambino. If his “This Is America” video tells us anything, it’s that Glover’s roots in YouTube shaped his ability to craft audiovisual work that gets people talking and sends a strong message.



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