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Famechangers 2016: Rewriting the Rules of Celebrity

Right now you might be asking yourself, “Why on earth is that odd-looking woman gracing the cover of Variety?”

Her name is Colleen Ballinger, and if you don’t know who she is, you really should. Colleen is better known as Miranda Sings, a kooky character of her own creation known to millions worldwide on YouTube, and soon, Netflix. She will be just one of many young self-made stars heading to Anaheim this week for VidCon, an annual celebration of digital-native talent expected to attract more than 25,000 young, screaming fans, not to mention the studios and networks who want to market to them.

This is your future, Hollywood, so get used to it.

I remember attending the second-ever VidCon in 2011, when it was just a few thousand fans packed into a hotel ballroom pulsating with energy, and thinking, “This is the next Comic-Con.” That’s a foregone conclusion at this point.

Art Streiber for Variety; Hair: Dallin James using Oribe at The Wall Group; Jakob Sherwood using Nars at The Wall Group; Styling: Wilford Lenov at Celestine Agency; Dress: Patricia Bonaldi

Which is why Variety was early to embrace these next-gen content creators. This is our third annual “Famechangers” issue dedicated to exploring how a new breed of talent is rewriting the rules of content and celebrity. Truth is, it’s not really that new; the pioneers of this movement have been going at it for at least a decade. The cover story is evidence enough of that maturation, as Ballinger is among a growing number of YouTubers who are attempting to translate their shticks to long-form TV. In addition to shining the spotlight on her, we’re showcasing another diverse set of performers we’re deeming this year’s “famechangers.”

How 2016’s top digital stars are transforming entertainment

Variety has also teamed with Q Scores to exclusively present their proprietary data on just how popular the top digital personalities are relative to traditional celebrities. The first time we crunched the numbers on this, which was two years ago, the evidence that YouTubers were becoming as popular as movie stars with U.S. teens was greeted with widespread shock.

With our continuing commitment to covering this space, Variety is proud to have led the way in chronicling what few could doubt at this point is a bona fide cultural phenomenon.

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