BEHIND THE SCREEN

By Kylie Vaillancourt

 

Christian DelGrosso’s life was changing right before his eyes and he wouldn’t stop it for the world.

DelGrosso, a 22-year-old from Toronto who now lives in Los Angeles, has made his rise to stardom through Vine.

“I feel like my life was very empty before. I had so many ideas, aspirations and things I wanted to accomplish that I wasn’t accomplishing and now that I’m doing all these things and more projects. I’m learning that this how my life is supposed to be,” said DelGrosso.

It is positive proof that the Internet has the power to make an individual popular with the click of a button. With the help of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Vine, people are capable of becoming famous overnight. For some, it only lasts a short time but others can make a living out of it.

For DelGrosso, it all started when a friend showed him the app, Vine, and thought it would be a great way to show others his character and personality. DelGrosso is currently on several social media platforms but the ones that he typically uses are Vine, YIMG_8906ouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. He has a total combined following of more than 12 million people.

Growing up, DelGrosso had a passion for acting and theatre. Becoming popular online gave him the opportunity to pursue his acting dream and take part in other projects that would help further his career in film and television. As DelGrosso became popular, he would use his acting skills to create comedic videos that would gain him a following. DelGrosso has two movies set to come out this year: Mono, which he did with FOX, and Internet Famous, which he did with Lakeshore Studios.

“I cherish all the things, all the opportunities that I’m given knowing that anything in the entertainment industry could potentially be short-lived unless you put the work in,” said DelGrosso.

Kurtis Conner, 21, is another social media personality from Toronto who became popular through Vine. When he was on Twitter, he constantly saw things called “vines” pop up on his feed. He became curious, downloaded the app and was instantly hooked. Like DelGrosso, Conner posted comedic videos. His social media platforms of choice are Vine, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. He’s accumulated over 450,000 followers so far.

Conner’s goals are to have his own comedic series, a stand up special and to act in movies. He believes posting on social media and showing that he can consistently create his own content will look good to producers and could help him achieve his goals. He says putting out comedic material for an audience who wants to see it is the best part of all this. It’s his dream and the fact it’s becoming a reality is mind baffling for him.

“I just want to entertain people and make them laugh. If I could be the guy that makes people forget about the awful parts of their life even just for a second, then I’ve succeeded.” said Conner.

He may have started off posting comedic content online for the entertainment of others, but it quickly turned into a business opportunity. He treats business very seriously.

“If I have a deadline that I have to meet, I can’t just not do it and say, “I was sick” or “I forgot.” If I don’t do it, the company loses money and I lose money, and possible future endeavours,” said Conner.

By mixing his passion with business, DelGrosso has been given the opportunity to be a partner in the anti-bullying app, Shots, which is owned by John and Sammy Shahidi, with other celebrity partners including Justin Floyd Mayweather.

Although she may not have as large a following as DelGrosso and Conner, 24-year-old Jenna Allard has her fair share of popularity on social media.

At the moment, she uses social media for the same reason most people do; for fun. Allard says he is still looking for her purpose in life so she uses her social media as a creative outlet. She enjoys sharing parts of her life, documenting things and writing.

“I use it to post my writing, my poetry, my insight. I make videos, I take photos, and I sell stuff. Social Media is really awesome for “creatives”. The possibilities are endless”

Allard, who met Conner though an Internet friend, is dating Conner, and is a big part in his life.

“I’m so proud to see my best friend succeed and achieve so many things, and having him include me in those parts of his life,” said Allard.

Allard is on six different social media platforms but uses Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr the most. On the three of her most commonly used platforms, she has roughly 45,000 followers.

“I’ve also done brand deals with awesome companies which is always super fun for me. I love having a reason to create,” said Allard.

DelGrosso describes his life before social media fame as pretty stressful. He nwas working at California Sandwiches, a sandwich shop in Toronto, just trying to pursue a dream that a lot of people thought was unattainable.

“There are definitely some things that I miss about how my life was before, like privacy, being around friends and family a lot and just like living the normal life,” said DelGrosso.

He says his life is more hectic now due to being recognized in public a lot and the power that comes with it but says that he wouldn’t go back to his old life if he had the chance.

Posting content online, has given DelGrosso the opportunity to meet a variety of new people. He’s developed close relationships with other social media personalities including KingBach, Rudy Mancuso, Lele Pons and Cameron Dallas by collaborating on different creative content.

Prior to gaining a following online Conner describes his life as normal. He was going to college for comedy writing, had his little group of friends and would do some local stand-up comedy. Back then, he’d never have people recognizing him and asking for a selfie. But, on reflection, he says he wouldn’t go back to his life before social media fame. Conner says he never really had a group of people who cared about him and vice versa.  IMG_8225

Now, the people he’s met on his journey have had a large impact on him and who he is today. He’s met other social media personalities from Toronto including Ray Ligaya, Matthew Paquette and Andrew Quo.

“I feel like I’ve made thousands of amazing friends just by being me and I am incredibly lucky to be where I am,”said Conner.

Allard says she’s also benefitted by meeting many people online that she can call her friends.

DelGrosso recently took part in a large anti-smoking campaign for teens called Truth. He also does charity work with his business partner Shots.

DelGrosso feels good that he can help influence people to be better. He feels strongly about raising awareness for topics such as health issues, drinking and driving.

Conner is a massive advocate for mental health and animal rights so he speaks about those issues to help bring more awareness to them.

When she’s not using her social media as a creative outlet, Allard tries to use her platform to spread messages of positivity. The important issues she tackles are equality based, such as race, sex. Two topics she is currently addressing are Kesha’s case against her label and the importance of voting in elections. She’ll also use social media to promote her friends if they’re working on a project or have a show or to help them with their small businesses.

“It’s nice to know that you can educate or help someone that way,” said Allard.

DelGrosso says that even though things are rolling along, he sometimes finds his life to be stressful because of the ever-changing social media environment. He says it’s a good stress though, and he’s enjoying having the ability to have a positive impact on lives.

In short, Conner says he loves life more after becoming Vine famous, even though it’s such an incredibly competitive market. Not only is it good for his wallet, its helps him develop life skills for the future. He says it has forced him to become more professional in all aspects of his life, and that Vine has helped him decipher who to keep as friends and who to associate with.

Being online media stars, and Allard to travel to different cities, but they never forget where they came from.

“I think that Toronto is definitely a good atmosphere with good people,” said DelGrosso.

“The community here is so small but it’s growing quickly so now’s the time to get out there and prove yourself,” said Conner.

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