#CanadianScreenWeek: The rise of online stardom #AcademySOCIAL


Move over Hollywood, it’s time to make room for young Canadian stars shining their light bright through the use of social media platforms.

As part of Canadian Screen Week, the academy hosted the #AcademySOCIAL an event at the Steam Whistle Roundhouse, Feb. 26 that featured some of today’s most groundbreaking online content creators and innovators.


Jordan Axani (Right)

One young Canadian attendee, Jordan Axani, 28, made waves in November 2014 when he used the Internet to find himself a travel partner.

Because Axani was unable to change the name on the plane ticket, the catch was the person needed to have the same first and last name as his ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Gallagher.

Axani posted his offer on the popular social media website, Reddit.

“I didn’t think anyone would read it,” said Axani.  It came as a complete shock to him when his post went viral.

“There were almost a thousand people that emailed me seriously willing to change their name.”

The only requirement that Axani asked for in determining the right Elizabeth to take on the trip around the world was that they pay it forward in their own way.

This led him to choose an Elizabeth Gallagher, who goes by the name of Quinn, who has not had the opportunity to travel for luxury very often.

Last year, Quinn volunteered in Thailand and she was eager to travel back to the school she taught at to bring the kids Christmas presents. This trip gave Quinn that opportunity.

Axani’s journey in finding a travel partner has inspired him to start A Ticket Forward, a charitable movement that sends deserving people on trips of a lifetime.

“It made me think of travelling in a different way, these are people that want to reconnect with their family that was ripped apart because of warfare, or people who want to take their kids on a trip before they die.”

Axani said his charity would help travel become less about luxury and more about a rite of passage for everyone.

Contributors Kristina Kirkaldy, and Julie Craig with Andrew

Contributors Kristina Kirkaldy, and Julie Craig with Andrew Gunadie

Andrew Gunadie, who goes by the name ‘Gunnarolla’, is another young Internet sensation that was invited to the Academy Social.  He is best known for his ‘Canadian, Please’ music video on YouTube.

“At the time I wasn’t thinking of developing an audience or being famous or making money off of it, but then we got really lucky with the ‘Canadian, Please’ video, which kind of just spread around the world.”

Gunnarolla’s YouTube channel has over 10 million views and he thanks this video sharing website for getting him where he is today.

“I discovered YouTube when I was doing my post-secondary studies, and at the time YouTube was this new thing. It was a great way for me to share what I was working on in class.”

YouTube allows Gunnarolla to be completely in control of his creativity. He makes videos he knows his audience will connect with.

“I love the feedback that I get from my audience, and I think this is one of the things that makes YouTube and social media so unique.  He added, “The feedback is instantaneous, we get to hear about them, we get to interact with them and we also get to incorporate their ideas.”

There are over one billion users on YouTube, and Gunnarolla’s advice for those trying to make it in the online video world would be to define what you want to make, what your voice is, and to ultimately create videos you would like to watch.

Matthew Santoro

Matthew Santoro and Contributor Kristina Kirkaldy

Matthew Santoro, another famous ‘YouTuber’ also lives by that advice.  Santoro loves facts; he makes videos like ‘10 Mythical Creatures that Actually EXISTED!’ And ‘10 CREEPY Urban Legends that turned out to be TRUE!’

Santoro prides himself on the authenticity of his videos.

“Viewers now a days are looking for authenticity, which is why YouTube has grown so quickly.

His advice for ‘Youtubers’ trying to make it big out there is,

“Don’t do it if you want to become famous or you want to make money because you will probably fail.”  Santoro added, “You need something greater than that to motivate you because it can take years. It took me four years to get anywhere on YouTube.”

The rise of Internet stardom is increasingly apparent as ordinary people are becoming famous without even leaving their house. It won’t be long until the media is knocking on their doors and rolling out the red carpet.


The Academy Social event celebrated Canada’s top social moments of 2014, in conjunction with the Canadian Screen Award Week.

The Canadian Screen Awards bring together Canadian productions and talent ‘who excel in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes in Canadian film, television and digital media.’

For more information about the CSA, visit their website at www.academy.ca/Canadian-Screen-Awards or follow them on Twitter @Academy_Net

Jordan Axani : jordanaxani.com and follow him on twitter @Jordanaxani
Andrew Gunadieyoutube.com/user/gunnarolla and follow him on twitter @gunnarolla
Matthew Santoro : youtube.com/user/MatthewSantoro and follow him on twitter @Matthewsantoro

Catch the live broadcast of the Canadian Screen Awards Sunday, March 1 at 8 p.m. ET on CBC

[Review and interview by Kristina Kirkaldy]


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