YOUTUBE BECOMES POPULAR SIDE HUSTLE FOR HOLLYWOOD STARS

Six-figure deals for filming everyday trips to the store? It's enough to lure high-profile celebrities to the YouTube platform, but the global audience and creative freedom help keep them there as growing an online following becomes "a great point of leverage."

Illustration by: Koren Shadmi

Six-figure deals for filming everyday trips to the store? It’s enough to lure high-profile celebrities to the platform, but the global audience and creative freedom (plus ad revenue and marketing opportunities) help keep them there as growing an online following becomes “a great point of leverage.”

Madelaine Petsch is freezing. She’s standing naked in a cryotherapy chamber in West Hollywood as cold air blasts around her. “How many seconds am I in here for?” she asks nervously as a camera rolls. Petsch, 25, may be best known for playing Riverdale ice queen Cheryl Blossom, but in this moment, as she’s submerged in subzero temperatures, she’s showing her warmer side.

Fans of the Archie-inspired drama won’t see this on The CW. Instead, they’ll have to head to her YouTube channel, where Petsch uploaded the stunt Oct. 2 as part of a series where she tries new things. She’s been posting on the Google-owned platform since August 2017, racking up 4.8 million subscribers and 138 million views with her baking videos, relationship vlogs and other personal missives. “YouTube allowed me to have this connection with people that I wouldn’t really get to have otherwise,” Petsch says over the phone from Vancouver, where Riverdale is filming its fourth season. “Putting out my first YouTube video, people were like, ‘Wait, she’s funny and nice.’ They were surprised to see that I’ve got a personality that’s not Cheryl.”

There’s little difference between Petsch’s channel and those that have proliferated over the years from homegrown vloggers —­ except, of course, that she’s on a popular broadcast drama. Audiences aren’t conditioned to seeing actors like Petsch get so personal online. But social media is breaking down that barrier, and YouTube, in particular, is leading the charge. Now, the platform is being invaded by Hollywood talent showing off their everyday lives. Will Smith, for instance, spent 2018 amassing many of his current 6.8 million subscribers with goofy, candid vlogs. READ MORE

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