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How a diehard YouTube fan became the most viral creator of our generation

Make way, Hollywood, we live in the age of YouTube stars

YouTube star Issa, better known by his stage name Twaimz, has amassed over 2 million followers and 146 million video views in just three years. His meteoric rise to success is thanks in part to his extensive knowledge and dedication in the social space. Before Twaimz captured the hearts of millions of fans with his crazy llama videos and dance numbers, he was just Issa, a typical high school student who described himself as a diehard fan of all things YouTube. His idol? Shane Dawson.

After getting the chance to meet Dawson at VidCon – an annual conference for YouTube creators – Issa's life completely changed. He went home that night, started his first YouTube channel and named himself Twaimz. Since then, Twaimz has become one of the most viral creators in YouTube, has millions of fans, goes on US tours, is a creator for the Fullscreen Network and was even chosen to host the new series “Sour Patch Kids Prom Project”. And after speaking with Issa, it's clear he's not letting fame get him down.

Issa notes, “I don't want to be seen as someone you just watch. I want to hug you! I want to be friends with you.” The young YouTuber's drive and passion to build a close bond between himself and his fans comes entirely from his own experience as a YouTube fanatic. And by building on that personal experience, Twaimz makes his videos so authentic and relatable that it's hard not to fall in love with him.

We recently had the chance to speak with Issa, the man behind the viral account Twaimz, about how his own love of the internet changed and shaped the way he created his YouTube videos. Below, learn how his encounter with Shane Dawson started his career, how his personality has changed since his time on YouTube, and more!

And if you want even more Twaimz news, head to AOL.com at 12pm ET for more exclusive features, including his latest video series, “Sour Patch Kids Prom Project.”

How did you first come into contact with YouTube?

It's a very long story! I actually didn't start on YouTube. I started on Vine first. I was on the other side of the internet world as a fan or viewer of YouTube. I supported so many creators – especially Shane Dawson. I wanted to be like him so much. And one day my friend asked me if I wanted to go to VidCon and I said yes and ended up waiting in line for four hours to meet him. I had this photo of a dog that I drew for him and I was freaking out trying to figure out what to say to him when we finally met. I was shaking, I hadn't eaten anything that day and I felt like I was going to pass out. So I got in line and gave him the drawing and he thanked me. We had such a great conversation and he is so genuine. Witnessing that made my love for him and the internet world grow even more than I already did.

I came home after VidCon and saw that he posted this vlog from VidCon. At the end of his video, he showed the drawing I gave him and said, “Thank you, Issa!” And when he said my name, I screamed so loud. I just lost control. I was freaking out and was so inspired and felt like I had to perform something. I was in a state where I felt so blessed. After that, I was like, “So, I love YouTube, I love how this world works and how YouTubers are treated, so I want to do it too!” I didn't have the best time in college either. It was my freshman year at the time and I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. The day I went home after VidCon was the day I created my YouTube channel that I use today. I took this horrible picture with my webcam and created the channel.

My original plan was to use YouTube, but I realized it was difficult to get the content out there. I didn't know what kind of content I wanted to create, and I also had no idea how YouTube worked, so I had to start simpler. At the time, I looked at Vine and started making Vines myself. I did that for a couple of months and then it took off.

So I originally started on Vine and then that became a huge success and eventually I realized it was time to go back to my first love, which was YouTube. I admit I didn't really know how to be myself at first, but I kept working at it and started doing things that I wanted to do, incorporating my love of dancing, music and rapping. I'm so theatrical in person and on YouTube, so I didn't force anything and took it everywhere with me.

I've heard that you considered yourself very shy at first. What was that inner development like for you as you started to show yourself more on YouTube?

In high school and middle school, I was the complete opposite. If I were to meet my younger self, it would be a completely different person physically, emotionally, and mentally than I am today. I felt like I was locked in this cage where I couldn't express my personality or tell anyone I was gay. Eventually, I got to the point where I felt like I needed to make a change. I started losing weight and cutting myself off from people who were very negative. Then I made the videos and my life changed 180 degrees.

YouShouldKnow is a column that highlights rising social stars. Check out more past interviews here. And come back at 12pm EST for more exclusives on Twaimz, including his latest video series, “Sour Patch Kids Prom Project.”

By BANU IBRAHIM

To learn more about past YouShouldKnow stars, scroll through the gallery below!

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