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Cameron Dallas on Going From Selfie Star to Netflix Player: ‘I’m an Entrepreneur’

A year ago, Vine star Cameron Dallas wrote in his “goals notebook” that he wanted to have his own show on Netflix. But when Magical Elves, the production company working with Dallas, tried to sell the idea, the streaming service passed. As his team surveyed other choices, Dallas knew he wasn’t ready to move on. “No, I really want Netflix,” he told his people.

“Just get me a meeting with them and I’ll pitch them in person.” Dallas recounts this story while taking a break from shooting his new Netflix docu-series. “We got the show,” he adds.

Most 21-year-olds don’t have the clout to make Hollywood executives listen, but Dallas is the Tom Cruise of the digital world. In fact, Cruise is one of the actors that Dallas admired growing up. “Tom Cruise is dope,” he says. Dallas boasts 8.4 million Twitter followers and 14.7 million Instagram fans.

As a teenager in Chino, Calif., Dallas started an Instagram account, where he branded himself as a male model. “I had no idea what modeling entailed, and what an agency was,” Dallas says. “It was crazy. As I continued to do it, it was fun for me to learn everything from A to Z.” Professional photographers started calling; IMG signed him, and he eventually ended up as part of a Calvin Klein print campaign. “It was a good step in the right direction to bridge the gap between social media and traditional media,” he says.

But he wasn’t going to stop there. Dallas, who gained more notoriety for his YouTube and Vine videos with families and friends (they play like a PG-rated “Jackass”), and is repped by WME, went on to record music, star in two VOD-released movies (2014’s “Expelled” and 2015’s “The Outfield”), and attend the Met Gala. He met Conde Nast’s artistic director Anna Wintour the year before he graced the cover of Teen Vogue.

“I knew the name, obviously,” he says of Wintour. “But I wasn’t quite sure exactly who she was.”

It’s all part of Dallas’ master plan to take his internet fame to the mainstream. It’s still an open question if digital stars can cut it in movies, music, or TV, especially since Dallas’ area of expertise is in taking the perfect selfie. (“It’s all about the filter, man,” he says. “Filter and angle.”) But Dallas thinks it’s only a matter of time before Hollywood openly embraces the internet as a star-making platform. “I’m an entrepreneur,” he says. “I’m always going to try to cross over. I don’t want to hop right into it and leave social media behind. I love social media, too. I kind of want to do everything.”  — Ramin Setoodeh

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