Under His Influence
By Kayla Marra
Imagine your sister posting a video of you lip-syncing in your bathroom to a TikTok account as a joke, then waking up the following morning to 10 million views and almost 100,000 followers. This is how 19-year-old Owen Holt kickstarted his social media fame.
In 2019, Owen’s sister posted that video to an account with zero followers. Not thinking anything of it, Owen went about his night as he regularly would. He had a very irregular start to his day the following morning – he had gone viral. Owen’s life would soon change from being a high-school student to a social media influencer.
After amassing millions of views and hundreds of thousands of followers on both YouTube and TikTok, Owen joined a content house called Project 305, which was comprised of about forty creators. Of those forty, AwesomenessTV selected eight of those influencers to compete in their original series Next Influencer. Owen won season one of Next Influencer and has gone on to host season two of the show, as well as a new series called Vibe Room, along with co-host Markell Washington.
We were lucky enough to chat with Owen about his sudden rise to TikTok fame, going from competing on Next Influencer to hosting the show, being a co-host on Vibe Room, and even advice for aspiring creators.
I saw that you started TikTok in 2019, what made you want to start creating videos?
It wasn’t really me who wanted to create videos. I made an account. It was mainly an accident. In late May of 2019, my sister had this really stupid idea of recording me in the bathroom lip-synching to a song that had an echo. It wasn’t me singing, I just lip-synced over this echoing audio, which made it seem like I was actually singing. The first-ever video that we posted [as a joke] ended up getting 10 million views right off the bat, and 90,000 followers off of just one video. After that took off, I just started doing it again. I posted another lip-syncing video a couple videos later, and that one got 10 million views. Then I just started posting more and more and just wanted to see where it would go. Now I’m here.
So you didn’t expect that you would get that big from that one video, you said it was a joke and went with it.
It was an absolute joke. I remember, I was playing Minecraft and I was so annoyed that my sister wanted me to get off of my couch and actually make a video. I had no clue – absolutely zero idea – that it would get even 1,000 views, or even 100 views. It’s pretty crazy to think about my life relative to that whole video. It’s crazy.
When you realized you had grown online as much as you did, who did you look up to as an influencer or creator?
I like being super brand friendly. I don’t like saying lots of cuss words and doing bad stuff. I like making good content for all ages. One person I looked up to was Brent Rivera. He makes content really similar to mine. I always look at his YouTube and TikTok videos and try to get inspiration. I would say Brent Rivera is a big role model of mine.
You won the first season of Awesomeness TV’s Next Influencer, which was hosted by Alex Warren of the Hype House. Tell us a bit about the show, and what your experience was like competing.
In season one it was a lot of fun. It was based in Miami, and it was with eight other contestants, so there are nine people in total. The difference between that and season two is that in season one, we all kind of knew each other going in. We were in a [content] house called Project 305 and we would have meetups before. We were all in a group chat before all this happened, we knew the cast going in.
As for me, I had a lot of fun competing. I am a huge game show and reality show fan. I love Big Brother and I watched The Circle. Season one was mainly those two of my favorite shows combined, so it was a dream come true competing in Next Influencer. I had to use a strategy, I had to use social skills, I had to use some physical skills in the challenges, it was a lot of fun. It was probably the most fun two weeks of my life. That’s how I feel about it. I know some other castmates have come forward and said, “Oh I didn’t like it.” I personally loved it, it was amazing, and I wouldn’t trade it back for the world – and I won!
What was the vibe like between you and other influencers?
It was very positive. I mean, sometimes there was more drama in the show, and people would be yelling at each other. I always tried staying out of that. I don’t like drama. Whenever an argument would arise, or some tensions would rise, I would always try and back away from that drama because it affects my game. I can’t be getting into a fight with someone because they’re probably going to end up ranking me low that day. My ranking would go down. It was all about the rankings and it’s all about the win. I knew if I were involved in some drama in any type of way, my rankings would suffer because of that. I just had to make sure to stay out of it [drama], but it was [a] positive [vibe] from my perspective. I still am cordial and good friends with everyone from season one. I don’t have beef towards anyone and we’re all cool.
Did you become closer with any of the creators you competed with? What was the dynamic like?
Going in, I knew everyone. I [had] met most of them in person and if I didn’t, I would talk to them and Snapchat them, but we weren’t good friends. I didn’t know much about them. I just would have some conversations with them prior. When you’re living together in the same house with people for two weeks, you’re going to get close with these people. You’re going to learn how they work. You’re going to learn their icks that you don’t like, but you’re also going to learn things that they do. You’re going to bond either way, whether it’s a good or bad bond. I one hundred percent became closer with everyone. They’re always going to be a part of my life no matter what just because of those two weeks that we spent so close together. I would say that we got closer, although I don’t talk to people as much. It’s not in a way where I don’t like you, it’s more of like, “Oh we spent two whole weeks together, let’s take a break a little bit and not talk every day.” But I’m still close with everyone I would say, close is a good word.
I’m glad there’s no animosity, and that you guys just needed your space after that time.
Well, there are some people where there is animosity. From my perspective, I’m cool with everyone. But some people in the house, it’s so bad.
What was the biggest challenge you had to face on the show? Whether that be a challenge you were given on the show or personal obstacles you overcame?
The biggest challenge was probably trying to win and trying to convince people to rank me high. The way that the winner is determined is by whoever has the highest average ranking at the end of the show. I’m not going to lie, I was lying to some people about their ranking like, “I’ll rank you high if you rank me high.”
It was really hard to do everything I could to win. It was really hard going the extra step, like lying to some people, because these are my friends. Even when the cameras were off, I would be just telling these guys what they wanted to hear so it could help me in the end. That was the only thing I was totally relieved of when Alex Warren announced that I was the winner. [I was relieved of] All this hard work and lying and stuff, because I don’t like lying. It’s a game show and people have to understand that. I saw some comments that were like, “Owen’s a liar, he shouldn’t win.”
Guys, it’s a game show. It’s not that deep. I had so much relief and all my hard work had paid off. I’ll tell you it was a challenge.
After winning the first season of the show, you then hosted the following season. Tell us a bit about that experience and some differences between hosting and being a part of the actual show.
Even though I love season one and competing, hosting season two was so much fun. It was crazy. I didn’t have to worry about rankings. I didn’t have to stress. I got to step back and take control of things and watch everything unfold in front of my eyes. Hosting was so much fun. Some differences were like I said, I didn’t have to stress a lot every single second about trying to win the game again. It was just overall a great experience, and I would much rather host than compete again. It was a lot of fun. It was also another great experience of my life that I’ll never forget.
What drama and challenges can we look forward to this season?
There is a lot of drama coming up. I can guarantee you that I think it’s more [drama] than the first season. Some things do get spiced up in the second season. The challenges are really cool coming up. The first two [challenges] were already really cool in the first two episodes that have already come out. Coming up, there are some very fun challenges that I was able to host and to see happen, and I’m laughing, I’m in awe. Some crazy things happen, can’t say yet, I guess you’ll have to tune in to find out what I’m talking about. Watch to find out. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.
Are there any similarities between this season and the last season?
The drama and challenges were basically a level up from season one.
I bet you’re glad that you’re not competing this season, considering the drama is turned up.
I don’t know how I would be competing, how I would be able to try and survive. I feel like if I were in the second season, it would be really hard not to involve myself in drama because there was a lot that would just happen out of nowhere. I don’t know how people did it. I don’t know how they got through it alive.
You are also hosting Awesomeness TV’s Vibe Room with Markell Washington, where you hang out with creators and get to hear and witness drama first-hand. How has this experience been hosting Vibe Room?
Vibe Room is amazing, I love Vibe Room, and I got an amazing co-host, Markell Washington. It’s like a talk show and we just bring different guests on. So far, it’s been people from Next Influencer. Hosting the Vibe Room has been awesome. It’s really cool and it’s in my element. I love it. I feel like it’s a good fit for me – talking about Next Influencer and just TikTok drama in the world. It’s a lot of fun, Vibe Room is definitely a vibe.
Would you rather be in on the drama (like when you competed on Next Influencer) or watch from the sidelines (like hosting Vibe Room and Next Influencer)?
As much fun as it would be to get my adrenaline pumping to be in the drama, it’s just not me. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like it when it comes to that stuff. I would definitely watch from the sidelines. I would definitely rather be a host and watch the drama instead of being in it.
Both Vibe Room and Next Influencer are featured on AwesomenessTV, what has it been like working with them? How did you initially begin working with them?
Awesomeness has been amazing so far. They’re an amazing company and I love them to death. Shoutout AwesomenessTV! How I became a part of the Awesomeness family was that AwesomenessTV reached out to a bunch of different houses to be included in season one for Next Influencer and they ultimately decided on Project 305 and luckily enough, I was in Project 305. So they just reached out to Project 305, we had a lot of people in Project 305. I know there were only nine people competing in season one, but there were like thirty or forty people [in Project 305] and they had to choose and narrow it down to just less than 10. I sent in a really good casting tape and luckily, thank the Lord I was picked, and the rest is history. So that was my journey of joining AwesomenessTV.
What are the pros and cons of being an influencer?
Here’s a con: There’s a big spotlight on you. People are going to follow you with what you do, so you can’t say anything bad or you can get canceled. You can’t post anything bad. No matter what, you always get those comments. No matter how much of a positive person you are. No matter how good-looking, or whatever. This goes for any influencer, not just me. You’re going to get negative comments. You’re going to get hate comments and it just depends on how you react to them. You can’t take them to heart, or else it’s going to be really hard to survive in that influencer field. You really just got to brush it off. A lot of other people can vouch for me. Some pros are that it’s a lot of fun. I’m in LA right now. I just moved here, which wouldn’t be possible without Awesomeness and these whole last two years of being on social media. The people you meet are amazing also through social media. I’ve met some of the best friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life. For example, my roommate right now. I met him through social media and he’s going to be a friend of mine for life, and that would have never happened if I weren’t on social media posting content. Just the simple things like that I wouldn’t take back for the world . [They] are a huge pro in this industry.
Do you feel like the pros outweigh the cons?
Yes, a thousand percent the pros outweigh the cons. That’s for me, though. Like I said, brush off the negative comments. Some people though, it’s just not for them, so it could not be worth it. For me, I am totally in it for the right reasons.
Do you have any advice for aspiring creators?
Some advice I would give to aspiring creators who want to have their job on social media and making content is to post the content that you like, and that you want to do. Let’s say you start on TikTok and it’s getting low views. Do what makes you happy. Do what you want to do. The last thing you want to do is to do something that gets views, but you don’t really like doing because then you’ll fall into this place of, “Oh I have to post this. I don’t want to, but I have to.”
I went through that a little bit, and then I switched my content into something that I liked, and that just helped me so much. It helped my attitude. It was so amazing just to post content that you really want to do and make for yourself, not for anyone else. Eventually, it’ll happen.
Do you have anything you’d like to say to your supporters?
Yes, I do thank you guys so much for supporting me. I love you all. You all are amazing. The Owen Army is strong, it’s stronger than ever. I love you guys forever. I interact with most of them through DMs and Instagram and stuff like that, so just thank you guys for supporting me and being a part of this journey. It’s not my journey, it’s our journey, and I’m glad you guys can be a part of it.
Make sure to check out Owen on Next Influencer as well as Vibe Room, streaming on AwesomenessTV’s YouTube channel now!
Copyright ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 24, 2021.
Photos #1-2 ©2021 Kayla Marra. All rights reserved.
Photo #3 ©2021. Courtesy of AwesomenessTV. All rights reserved.