In a recent video on TikTok, creator Brent Rivera (@brentrivera) opens his foil-wrapped meal, turns his burrito sideways, and takes a bite from the middle. Continuing his cringeworthy food video, he cuts a triangular slice from the middle of a pizza, opens a chip bag upside down, and drinks straight from the side of a juice carton.
With over 50 million views on TikTok, the video is just one of thousands of videos Rivera has made over the years, many of which receive just as much attention. So how did Brent Rivera get famous?
Let’s start with the basics. Brent Rivera is a 22-year old social media star born in Huntington Beach, California. He has two brothers, Brice and Blake, and one sister, Lexi. His siblings have also received some social media fame, though not quite to the levels of Brent.
Brent has always enjoyed acting and being in the public eye. In 2017, he played the role of Alexander in the YouTube Red movie, Alexander IRL, a film about a high school student who throws a party with his younger brother in order to impress a girl. In 2018, he also starred as Isaac Salcedo in the supernatural Hulu original series, Light as a Feather.
However, his acting career is not the reason Brent Rivera is famous. In fact, Rivera rose to fame several years before, when he was just fifteen years old.
Brent started his YouTube channel in 2009, when he was just eleven years old, and called it MrBrent98. At this time, YouTube was only four years old, and content creators were still struggling to find their own fan bases.
And still, Brent decided to start his very first video in an unconventional way. He started what he called a “Brent Challenge” and decided to sample different baby foods and rate them. He became known for his similar cringeworthy challenges, his prank videos, and his unique brand of comedy.
Brent’s videos were nearly always family friendly, so parents felt safe allowing their kids to watch. He formed a small audience of young loyal viewers, though he wouldn’t reach the peak of his fame until around 2013.
Many people remember the popular video platform Vine, which limited content creators to just six seconds of time per video upload. Many Viners found extremely creative ways to work within the short time limit, and some of the most successful were those who used humor.
According to Rivera, when he first downloaded the short-lived app, he felt that the app was “pointless” and nearly deleted the app. However, he eventually decided to give it a try. He became one of the most popular video creators on the platform under his account TheBrentRivera.
Brent’s Vines frequently featured his mom and the funny conversations the two would share on the way home from school. For example, in one Vine, Brent’s mom asks, “How come you can’t be like Jimmy? He’s nice to his mom.” And Brent replies, “Why can’t you be more like Jimmy’s mom? She’s nice to Jimmy.” Many of his fans could relate to his observations on being a teen and his commentary that reflected growing up in the internet age.
With videos like this, Brent amassed 8 million followers. This allowed him to continue to expand his popularity outside of the platform. Even though Vine became defunct in 2016 and users could no longer upload videos, Brent’s YouTube popularity had expanded vastly.
After his success on the Vine platform, Brent was able to further grow his YouTube channel. Today, his channel boasts 14.3 million subscribers. Although few people outside of his YouTube follower fanbase are familiar with the video creator, he continues to gain followers and remains one of the most popular creators on the site.
He has been able to expand his fame by including other YouTubers in his videos. Some of his most popular videos have included beauty influencer and video creator Eva Gutowski, who has over 11 million YouTube subscribers and hosts a popular comedy series on the platform called “How to Survive a Break Up.” The two denied dating rumors for a long time before Brent finally explained their relationship history. Although the two dated briefly, they now consider each other best friends.
Rivera also frequently includes his family members in his videos, who he likes to prank, interview, or tell stories about. One of his most popular videos is a “Pause Challenge,” a game he plays with his sister, Lexi. In this weeklong challenge, when one sibling says the word “pause,” the other must stop what they’re doing, and cannot resume movement until the other says “play.” This results in Lexi spilling milk all over herself, Brent getting his pants pulled down at a store, and much more.
Because of these challenges and pranks, his siblings have grown their own social media followings.
Although Rivera is relatively unknown outside of his young fanbase, he is expanding his audience on a new, wildly popular platform: TikTok. The platform once limited creators to 15 seconds of video but now allows users to upload up to a minute-long videos. This forces video creators to get creative, much like with Vine, but still allows audiences to get to know the creator’s life.
Brent has used the platform wisely, and typically gets over a million views per video and hundreds of thousands of likes. Quick prank videos, Q&As, and interviews with his siblings remain fun, lighthearted, and family friendly.
Today, Rivera has expanded his reach so profoundly with TikTok that his followers have surpassed his YouTube followers. Today, he has 34.4 million followers on TikTok and he has amassed over 1 billion likes.
Rivera has likely gained some additional followers from his career as an actor. Few actors have the opportunity to be cast as the lead in their first film, as Rivera was with Alexander IRL. The producers felt that Brent showed potential to become a superstar and thought he was a great fit to lead a teen film.
The Hulu series Light as a Feather, which Rivera stars in, has also gained him some popularity, though the audience is typically limited to teens and young adults.
Brent rose to fame because of his videos on multiple channels, but his claim to fame has always been his Vine account. Since his rise to fame, Brent has collaborated with a number of other YouTubers and even starred in his own film and television series. Still, Brent’s claim to fame will always be his videos, as evidenced by his growing TikTok followers. And with his growing acting career, he may be able to expand his audience in the future.
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