We shivered under the chilly evening on Tuesday, Nov. 18 before entering HUB 302. Buzz and excitement were in the air for the event of the night: ASPB’s Beyond the Screen. Beyond the Screen welcomed some of the virtual world’s most popular stars, who shared stories on how they rose to fame and created viral content. Around us, people seemed excited as they chatted about the YouTube videos of Jimmy Tatro and the Vines of Brittany Furlan. As time ticked faster toward the event’s commencement, the rows behind us filled up, with a few people, ranging from fraternity members to aspiring actors, even left standing.
The event began with some trivia questions that could only be answered by the truest of fans, such as, “What is the name of Brittany’s dog?” Lucky members won the chance to meet and take pictures after the event with the stars. At exactly 7 p.m., two ASPB members approached the stage and proceeded to introduce Tatro, Furlan and Andrew Bachelor. Comedian, writer, creator and star of YouTube’s “LifeAccordingToJimmy” channel, Tatro has earned over one million subscribers. He has also acted in popular movies such as “Grown Ups 2” and “22 Jump Street.” He was followed by Furlan, a comedian, actress, writer and Vine star. Bachelor, most commonly known as “KingBach” to the Vine fandom, concluded the introductions, and has also been featured in MTV2’s “Wild ‘n Out,” “Showtime’s House of Lies” and “Adult Swim’s Black Jesus.” The audience was energetic and applauded freely.
The first person to approach the stage was Furlan. Although I had never heard of her, judging by the cheers and applause, she had a lot of fans in the audience. She began the event with a slideshow that briefed the viewers on her move from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and how she got started making Vine videos. Being one of the top Vine female personas, Furlan showed us different SNL-type sketches she had created, including one that featured 2 Chainz, and narrated the story of how he had thanked her in person for making his single, “Birthday Song,” so popular. She shared her inspiration behind her most popular characters, such as Natalie Nature and The Retired Beekeeper, and how she admired how quickly Vine videos could be created. She concluded her short introduction with her plans for the future and coyly shared her current process of writing a pilot for TBS. The crowd listened intently and others held up their phones to take Snapchat videos and pictures to share their excitement with their friends.
As Furlan left the stage, she introduced another Viner and YouTube star, Bachelor. As he shared his story of how he always planned to be an actor, I was surprised to recognized him from one of my personal favorite shows, “The Mindy Project,” as a recurring character. Bachelor attained a lot of positive energy and came up with spontaneous jokes and remarks. He personally thanked the person in charge of creating the Powerpoint slides and then proceeded to narrate how he was born and raised in Los Angeles, and decided to pursue his YouTube career because he thought it was manageable. He motivated the audience to find their passion, as he had done the same.
The final person to approach the stage was Tatro, one of the main highlights of the event. Tatro’s videos on YouTube are hilarious sketches that depict different aspects of the typical college student, with videos such as “Tips for College Freshman” being some of the most popular ones. As Tatro approached the stage, he encountered loud applause while several iPhones went up, trying to capture the moment. He went on to joke about how he had dropped out of college and yet was delivering a presentation to college students. The audience found him relatable, with his video on fraternity life being the ignitor of his successful YouTube and acting career. He ended his speech with his plans of “leaving to shoot for Blue Mountain State,” which garnered loud cheering and clapping from the audience members.
After the succinct introductions, the Internet stars opened the floor for a Q-and-A session. Students wondered how to stay motivated if they were interested in following the path of the stars themselves. “Follow your passion, because that will provide you with all the motivation you need each day,” said Tatro. One of the questions came from a girl inquiring, “Can I take a selfie with you guys?” The stars were enthusiastic and happily agreed to take a picture with the lucky audience member. This was an obviously cunning strategy, but before others attempted to employ the same action plan, Bachelor joked, “No one else can use this trick!”
When the Q-and-A session concluded, the meet-and-greet began and 25 lucky attendees lined up to take pictures and autographs with the stars. Afterward, first-year psychology major Ruby Fakhouri exclaimed, “I loved this event. It was fun seeing virtual celebrities in reality and the background stories that motivated them to pursue their passion.”