Lauren Siebert | Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2016 8:00 am
Highland High School senior Nathan Triska is an Internet sensation. His biggest fan, his mother Debra Faulkner, has watched her son’s hobby turn into a career. Triska regularly travels on comedy tours working for his social media company and partner YouNow.
The Spring River area is no stranger to being called home to many celebrities. Some having made their fame through music or art, others on the big screen, but for Highland High School senior Nathan Triska, his fame was found on the Internet.
You might not know it just by passing him on the street but Nathan, a 17-year-old Hardy resident, is a funny guy. So funny in fact, he has become an Internet sensation, creating videos on YouNow, a live stream video site. Nathan has been so successful just by doing what he loves, he has actually found a way to make a living and frequently tours the country performing.
Originally from the Seattle area, Nathan relocated to the Spring River area as a child with his mother, Debra Faulkner. He began attending Cherokee Village Elementary school in the second grade. It wasn’t until he became a teenager he was able to find and pursue his passion.
“I started making YouTube videos in seventh grade. One day I decided to try social media and I took off from there and didn’t ever want to stop,” Nathan said. “My first video was a YouTube video of me and I would walk from one side of the camera to the other and cut the video, run to the other side and walk by again to make it look like I was teleporting. It was terrible, but it was fun.”
Since making his first video which received only about 200 views, Nathan has come a long way, with his average video receiving over 10,000 hits on YouTube, but far more on other social media venues such as YouNow.
He says now that he is employed and partnered with YouNow, he finds himself making videos at the request of his fans, rather than trying to do it all alone.
“Companies will hire you if you’re good and have a lot of traffic and it happened to me on an app called YouNow and I make a steady living every month plus merchandise and touring,” Nathan said. “Most of my videos I don’t come up with on my own, I let them choose what they want me to post and then I film it and do it. It’s fun. You get to meet new people and travel and it’s an enjoyable experience all-around.”
Nathan’s mom, Debra, says she was unsure of her son’s use of social media, until she really began to become involved in helping him.
“Well, it started out that I just gave him a nod as far as when he said he was going into social media professionally and then I realized he was broadcasting live. I got kind of nervous about that. It was a view inside of our home and I was nervous being a cautious parent,” Debra said. “He would pull me in for some of the broadcast and I got to know some of the kids and it made me more comfortable.”
Debra’s inside look into her son’s social media world eased her mind a bit, but it wasn’t until she attended an actual social media gathering hosted by Playlist media that she began to feel more comfortable.
“As time went on he wanted to go to some of the different things that social media has going on and the very first thing I went to was Playlist. It’s where the social media people gather. I could see it was such a good and positive thing and the people who did social media that were successful at it had a great attitude. They had good concept and their following was genuine and they were good people,” Debra said. “Like I’ve told people in the past, I’ve never seen so much happy in one place. There was screaming, there was happy, hugs, he’s (Nathan) a professional hugger now.”
Debra says as her son’s career began to develop, she saw the impact he was able to have on his viewers and because his acts are squeaky clean, noticed the positive energy he generated and shared with others.
“That’s what we’re looking for is positive, because there are so many kids out there that don’t have that or the ability to have positive energy in their lives for whatever reason. Then they tune in to see him who will give them a smile or something to laugh at. There is so much good feedback on that and that’s where my support comes in,” Debra said. “There is a lot of travel involved and as he’s become older and is now 17, I’m starting to back off on the traveling. He’s old enough to do this on his own. He’s got a manager who helps him, meets him and travels with him so I’m going to take more of a back seat this year.”
On July 4, Nathan embarked on a YouNow tour which consists of 31 cities in 41 days. Nathan says the tours allow him to interact one-on-one with fans.
“On tour we do funny things on stage, there’s musicians but there are also the social media guys. With the supporters we’ll play games and bring them up on stage, we’ll have lip-sync battles and do things to keep the crowd entertained and having fun,” Nathan said. “It’s fun. I’m used to it now though and you just treat them (fans) like they’re the only person in the room and they’ll do the same for you.”
Because of his touring schedule and career, Nathan will be attending his senior year at Highland High School predominantly online. Debra says generally, teens in his profession are forced to drop out for one reason or another, but Nathan’s priorities are where they should be.
“He’s going to be doing Arkansas Online next year so he doesn’t have to slow his travels down,” Debra said. “This way, when he’s here he can be here and when he’s not, he can do it on the road. He wants to walk with his class and that’s important. It keeps him grounded here in this school and his church.”
When asked what advice Nathan would give to others looking to get into his profession, it was evident he was sincere when he said being yourself was key.
“Be positive, stay happy, because if the viewers see you’re happy they will be as well. Spread positivity, don’t spread hate. Be yourself. Be original. There will be a lot of people out there that are going to try and use you, don’t let that happen. You’ll be able to tell easily if that’s what is happening,” Nathan said. “Stay true to yourself, make real friends and keep them close.”
If you would like to see some of Nathan’s videos, you can check him out on YouTube, YouNow, SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and most any other social media site.