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Higa makes Forbes list of young, influential stars

  • COURTESY RYAN HIGA

    Former Hilo resident Ryan Higa was selected as one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 celebrities who are “using their fame to make a difference — and a fortune.”

In the span of 10 years, Hilo native Ryan Higa, 26, has gone from teenage “YouTube sensation” posting comedy bits and pop song parodies featuring his hometown buddies to a spot on Forbes magazine’s 2017 list of 30 Under 30 celebrities who are “using their fame to make a difference — and a fortune.”

Higa, who lives in Henderson, Nev., was labeled a “digital star” for his comedy channel on YouTube, which boasts more than 19 million subscribers. He also performs in a parody K-pop group, has launched his TeeHee mobile app and will publish his first book in 2017, according to Forbes.

As for the “fortune” part of the equation, the Washington Post in 2015 estimated Higa’s earnings at $641,000, much of that from ad revenue and shilling for companies like Lenovo.

Also on the 30 Under 30 celebrities list: Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, 24; Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, 19; and actress Elle Fanning, 18.

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