Maisie Williams, the scrappy young star of "Game of Thrones," started her own YouTube channel on Tuesday, and before you brush this off as a bit of millennial fluff you don’t have to pay attention to, I’d urge you to sit up and take notice. You’ve all read by now that YouTube, Vine, and Instagram stars, a.k.a. social-media ”influencers,“ are the future of money-making fame. But what happens when established Hollywood stars start dipping their toes into the water usually reserved for everyday teens?
Williams — to celebrate gaining 1 million Twitter followers — launched the channel with a quick intro to the channel’s mission statement and a little Q&A. She explained, "I'm mainly going to have videos of things that make me laugh. Sketches. But it’s not going to be a place where I post regularly. It will just be every now and then something that made me smile or an idea that I have to let my creative juices out." For a sense of the things that make Williams laugh, you can check out this old video of the actress reacting to the famous Red Wedding episode of "Game of Thrones."
It may all seem like fun and goofy games, but it could also be the start of the next small-screen celebrity trend. Even though we're supposedly at "Peak TV," at a time when A-list stars acting on television is the stuff awards dreams are made of, industry insiders will be the first to tell you that, for the most part, younger millennials aren't watching TV at all.. And while streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBOGo are still popular, it seems like only a matter of time before the popular short-form narratives of YouTube, Snapchat, and Vine become the new storytelling module. Is that where the stars are headed next?
Williams isn't the only TV or movie star to harness the power of the Internet; everyone from Beyoncé to Sarah Michelle Gellar to Kate Hudson to Ethan Embry is finding ways to use social media for more than vacation photos and shots of their dinner. But there’s a big leap from cleverly deploying personal social media to launching your very own channel.
Williams, who already has a hugely popular online presence, could easily set that trend. When speaking with Vanity Fair in July 2014, Williams gave the perfect millennial answer about her TV-watching habits, saying:
"I don't really watch a lot of TV — I don't have one at the moment. I moved out about a year ago and I decided not to get a television because I feel like we spend too much of our lives sitting watching shows we don’t like. So I try not to watch unless there’s something specific that I want to see. I do watch a lot of YouTube. I watch a thing called Teens React, which is a lot of American teenagers."
Williams went on to guest star in a few Teens React and other popular YouTube series before launching her very own channel. Could other young stars follow in her footsteps? It's probably only a matter of time.
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