When 20-year-old social media star Addison Rae Easterling began hanging out with 41-year-old reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian, fans suspected it was a sort of passing of the torch.
Kardashian, who starred on E!’s Keeping Up the Kardashians since 2007, became vocal about her disdain for the constant presence of cameras and a lack of privacy, even refusing to film some episodes. It got bad enough that the Kardashian family and E! announced in September that the show would end in 2021 after 20 seasons. If fans were right, it seemed like Easterling—who is the second most-followed creator on TikTok after 16-year-old phenom Charli D’Amelio—would be the perfect person to step into those shoes. Besides that she has the Kardashian look with her long, dark hair, pouty lips, and curves, she also has a family that’s ready for stardom. Easterling’s mom and dad, Sheri Easterling and Monty Lopez, signed to WME when Easterling did and Easterling’s two little brothers, Lucas and Enzo, have a combined 700,000 Instagram followers. Put it all together and you have Livin’ the Lopez Life, the family’s YouTube channel, which has more than 200,000 subscribers.
Family channels aren’t anything new, but with popular channels like The Ace Family and The LaBrant Fam, it was the parents who got famous on social media first. Once they had kids, they added them to the YouTube content farm. Easterling, on the other hand, is carrying the weight of the fame while her parents and siblings get in on the action in the background. (You’ll notice videos that have Easterling in their accompanying thumbnails on the family channel have more views than those that don’t.)
“It is appealing because it is different,” says Joe Gagliese, CEO of Viral Nation, an influencer marketing agency. “We live in a world where there’s millions of influencers and tons of them on the come-up, so anything unique you can do to stand out and be different is what’s going to give you the attention and opportunities.”
The D’Amelios also seem to want a shot at making viral stardom a family affair. TikTok sensation Charli D’Amelio has a family YouTube channel with her sister, Dixie, and their parents. Their YouTube channel has more than 1 million subscribers, and when the family was recently got some bad press (fans accused Charli and Dixie of being spoiled brats), it only helped propel their notoriety, Gagliese says. It’s a phenomenon the Kardashians are more than a little familiar with.
“The reality is when you go viral through the news with something like that, it actually introduces them to a whole new group of people,” Gagliese says. “You look at the Kardashians and I can promise you there’s a large chunk of that audience who can’t stand them but engages with all of the things that they post. Unfortunately, you’re just never going to have 100 million people who all love you.”
Right now rumors that the D’Amelio and Lopez families could land respective reality TV deals are just that, rumors, but Gagliese says YouTube might be more lucrative anyway. Families can make millions off brand sponsorships, which is more than a network would offer.
“We’re living in a time where the YouTube subscriber base and the YouTube channel could be in the next four or five years more fruitful financially than a reality TV show on TV,” Gagliese says. “In a worst-case scenario, the YouTube channel is incredible support for the TV show itself. They play off each other and I wouldn’t say either of them is more important, but I think for sure they could have a shot at the reality TV space.”
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.