He’s also its most recognizable.
There’s an ongoing debate in the world of online stars about whether chasing more traditional success in Hollywood is worth it, mainly because we’re still in the midst of the first generation of widespread YouTube stardom that’s turned the platform into an enormous money-making enterprise. Maker Studios didn’t yet exist when Chris Crocker implored the world to “Leave Britney alone!” in September 2007, so it’s difficult to say what will happen when stars like Grier start to age out of the chief demographics of their platforms. They’re still so young that it hasn’t yet happened: Grier is only 17.
But for Bachelor, 26, Vine and YouTube were a means to an end, even as he hit paydirt along the way. In 2013, Bachelor told the Daily Beast he was charging Samsung $1,000 per 100,000 followers for sponsored Vines. Now he has 11.3 million followers. You do the math. A December article in the New Yorker had a more conservative estimate, reporting that most Viners can charge an additional $5,000 for every 1 million followers. The same story also reported that Bachelor was making between $10,000 and $15,000 per month just from YouTube ads when his Vines are uploaded there.
Bachelor, born in Toronto and raised by his Caribbean parents in Florida, arrived in California with dreams of becoming the next Will Smith or getting his own sketch comedy show like Dave Chappelle and was booking the odd commercial but nothing big.
“I wasn’t getting any jobs at all,” Bachelor said in an interview with Re/code’s Kurt Wagner. “I would go into these auditions and they were giving the roles to people with the bigger names. I was like, ‘How do I get a bigger name if you’re not giving me a chance?’ ”
So Bachelor made a name for himself on the Internet at the urging of his friend Brittany Furlan, another top Viner. What’s astonishing is how quickly Bachelor was able to parlay his success on Vine into meaningful roles. He’s been a recurring guest on “The Mindy Project,” “Black Jesus” and “House of Lies,” and this year he’s got five movie projects and it’s only March. In one, the Zac Efron vehicle “We Are Your Friends,” Bachelor even plays himself.
So now the question is what becomes of Vine?
“When I start doing movies that’ll be the time to pack Vine in,” Bachelor told the New Yorker last year. “Quit when you’re on top. Be the king.”
He joined in 2013 and made a few duds before he zeroed in on the elements that really succeeded on Vine — namely prankish, juvenile comedy. Bachelor applied the storytelling lessons he learned from the New York Film Academy and the Groundlings to exploit the winning formula and make it his own.
“The secret is just to be funny,” Bachelor told Paper magazine. “You can’t teach funny. It was just me being myself. I just use all the skills that I learned in film school and I just incorporate them into my sketches. People don’t realize that, with a story, there has to be a beginning, middle and end. There has to be a problem and a resolution. Just because it’s six seconds doesn’t mean it’s not a story. I figured that out early, and I figured it out that you need to have a story in each segment.”
He created a character: King Bach, a brash, smarmy, foul-mouthed rapscallion reminiscent of the mostly well-meaning class clown always being sent to the principal’s office. Every movement is exaggerated for comedic effect.
“KingBach is a fake thug,” Bachelor told the New Yorker. “He’s a guy who wants to be initiated into a gang, but who’s actually sort of likable. He says ‘n—-’ a lot and calls a girl a ‘b—-’ in every Vine, where I’d be terrified to do that to a real woman.”