When his grandmother’s car pulls into the driveway after school, Brendan Jordan hops out of the backseat in black knee-length shorts, a polo emblazoned with his school’s logo, and low-top lace-up sneakers covered in glitter. Across the street, a young girl spots him and snaps a photo on her phone.
“Did you see that?” Brendan squeals, his hazel eyes widening. He says he could see the girl’s fingers pinching outward to zoom.
“People are sometimes nervous to come up and ask for a picture,” he later tells me. He prefers when fans approach him — he says they will leave with better pictures of him that way.
Fame seems to come easily for the 16-year-old, who about a year ago woke up an internet celebrity.
Here’s how it went down: Brendan and his little sister Hailey convinced their mum Tracy to drive them to the grand opening of a massive mall erected near their home in Las Vegas, Nevada. When a crowd gathered behind a local live news broadcast, Brendan shimmied his way to the front and danced to Lady Gaga’s pop anthem, “Applause.”
You might have seen it.
Overnight the footage blew up, amassing a collective 10 million views on YouTube and catapulting the copper-haired high schooler into viral internet lore.
Brendan, who identifies as gay and transgender, has since collected half a million followers on Instagram, landed a contract with Fullscreen Creator Platform, and emerged as the face of LGBT youth in America through partnerships with American Apparel, the NOH8 Campaign, and the Happy Hippie Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Miley Cyrus dedicated to supporting young trans people.
All while keeping up his YouTube channel, Brendan’s choice outlet for dispensing makeup tips and life advice.
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