LOS ANGELES In the opening scene of Paramount Pictures and Studio71’s film,Be Somebody,hoards of screaming, crying fans wait for the movie’s protagonist, the fictional pop star Jordan Jaye.
In real life, Matt Espinosa, the 18-year-old Vine star who plays Jordan, gets the same reaction when he’s spotted on the street by his young fans.
At the film’s Hollywood premiere last week, somany teens bombarded him on the red carpet that the movie’s start time was delayed by about 40 minutes.
Saba Hamedy (@saba_h) June 10, 2016
But Espinosa is not a pop star though some compare him to Justin Bieber nor is he an A-list actor.
He’s among the handful of rising digital influencers who have built massive followings on social media for their videos. To date, Espinosa has 6.3 million followers on Vine,3.7 million followers on Twitterand 2.1 million subscribers on YouTube.
Still, he doesn’t consider himself a celebrity.
“I dont really think Im that famous yet,” he told Mashable in an interview. “I look at, like, other actors and stuff they’ve done, and I still strive to be them.”
“I dont really think Im that famous yet”
Espinosa spoke with Mashable the day after his movie premiere, in between a brief lunch break and a scheduled radio interview.
“I’m really tired,” he said. “This whole week I’ve lost a lot of sleep. But it’s been fun.”
Like many others in the digital space, the young star from Virginia didn’t expect that making videos could lead to a full-time career. But sure enough: Making Vines brought him notoriety, inside and outside of his high school hallways.
At 17, he moved to Los Angeles. Now, while he loves uploading to his digital platforms and getting to know his growing fanbase he is eyeing a bigger career in Hollywood.
Among his inspirations are Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith and James Franco.
Be Somebody, which hit digital platforms and limited theaters last week,is Espinosa’s first step toward reaching his acting dreams.
The film, a teen romance, follows Jordan Jaye after heabandons his tour bus and meets an independent, small-town girl with big dreams, played by Sarah Jeffery(and yes, theShades of Blue actress kind of looks like Selena Gomez). Together, they embark on an unexpected journey of friendship, first love and self-discovery.
Espinosa was careful in picking his first movie.He and others involved with the project emphasized that it is “not an influencer film.”
He passed on several other film lead offers, seeking an opportunity to star in something that would have a real, theatrical release and feature traditional actors.
But he felt Jordan was the right first role to tackle.
“Its funny, because I wanted to pick a movie that was a fine line between me and a fictional character,” he said. “And I feel like Jordan was that perfect fine line.Overall I just really wanted a movie that was a lighthearted first baby step in my acting career.Jordan was that.We are similar, but we are very different too.He runs away from it all; I like facing my problems.”
Espinosa plays a behind-the-scenes role in Be Somebody, too. He serves as an executive producer.
“Matt didnt want to make, like, a generic Disney-type movie,”Gary Binkow, Studio71’s chief content officer, told Mashable.
Espinosa first caught the attention of Binkow and other executives at Studio71 (formerly Collective Digital Studio) because he stood out, even in a sea of similarly funny, young Vine stars.
“If you look at his Vines and sort of his artistry on that platform, hes mastered it,” Binkow said.That’s partly why the digital entertainment company was drawn to him.
Espinosa will also start inStudio71’s new series,Text Committee, which the company previewed during its NewFront presentation.
“Were not looking to do plug-and-play movies with talent,” Binkow said. “We are looking to create long-term relationships and franchises that continue to have value beyond a quick sell to consumer.”
Paramount, too, saw the appeal in getting this film made. Binkow helped get the Hollywood studio on board.
So far, their efforts are working. The film has already made it into the top 20 on iTunes.
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