The internet has launched millions of careers, some more notable than others. In an age where a person’s digital presence is as important as their real life presence, it’s no wonder so many celebrities actually got their start online.
Bloggers, pundits, and internet personalities have all found ways to make names for themselves both on and offline. Here are the top five famous people who no one ever would have heard of if it weren’t for the internet.
5. Perez Hilton
Bloggers are a dime a dozen, but Perez Hilton hit the scene in the early 2000s with an edgy blog about celebrity culture. By 2007, Hilton was a celebrity in his own right, logging millions of page views every day and even catching a mention in a Black Eyed Peas song. Later that year, he launched his own show on VH1 and even hosted the Miss USA pageant.
Today, Hilton has toned down his style and prefers to be nice to celebs rather than berate them. He frequently makes appearances at events and can be seen making cameo appearances all over TV, including a recent “Law and Order: SVU” episode.
4. Antoine Dodson
“Hide your kids! Hide your wife!” If you recognize that phrase, you know Antonie Dodson. In 2010, Dodson made a fateful interview with a local Alabama news crew after a break in at his apartment complex. His colorful appearance launched him into near overnight stardom and landed him appearances on the “Today Show” as well as a Top 100 iTunes song, “Bed Intruder Song.”
He’s still around, showing up most recently at the BET Awards, but one thing’s for sure: if YouTube hadn’t made his initial interview a web hit, not many people would know who Antoine Dodson is.
3. Tila Tequila
Once touted as the “most popular person on MySpace,” Tila Tequila has had a roller coaster of a decade. Since the early 2000s, Tila Tequila has been a model/entrepreneur/internet celebrity, all stemming from the popularity of her (sometimes scandalous) MySpace page. She’s had her own dating show, written a book, and even launched a clothing line.
Tequila’s personal life is as tumultuous as it is racy and she still keeps a presence for LGBT issues, but largely keeps out of the spotlight.
2. Kate Upton
Most people know Kate Upton as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model, but many aren’t aware she actually hit her big break on YouTube. The young model uploaded a video of herself doing the ‘Dougie’ at an LA Clippers game in 2011, which instantly went viral.
Though Upton had modeled frequently before (and even appeared in the 2010 Swimsuit Edition) the video launched her to stardom. Upton’s graced the cover of the magazine the last two years and has parlayed her internet celebrity into paid appearances, speaking engagements, and modeling gigs.
1. Justin Bieber
The world has YouTube to thank (or blame) for Justin Bieber. In 2007, a video of Bieber performing at a local talent show was posted on YouTube, only to be seen by the marketing executive of So SoDef records. After recording a few demos for the execs Bieber was promptly signed by Usher’s record label and has since been valued at over $55 million dollars.
Currently boasting over 40 million Twitter followers and named by Forbes Magazine as the 9th most powerful celebrity in the world, Bieber certainly has the internet to thank.