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Justine Ezarik
Intel Insider Kickoff - Justine Ezarik.jpg
Ezarik at the Intel insider event (2008-06-24)
Background information
Born March 20, 1984 (1984-03-20) (age 25)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Nationality USA
Web alias(es) iJustine, iJ
Period active 2006–present
Host service(s) Justin.tv, Viddler, YouTube
Genre(s) Lifecasting, Video blogging
Meme 300-page iPhone bill
August 2007
Signature phrase "I am the Internet" [1]
Official site http://www.tastyblogsnack.com

Justine Ezarik (pronounced [iːˈzeɪ.ɹɪk], born March 20, 1984), is an American viral video comedienne, actress, freelance graphic/web designer and video editor originally based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is best known as iJustine, a lifecaster who communicated directly with her thousands of viewers on her Justin.tv channel, ijustine.tv.[1][2] She has made more than 200 videos, including satires on such subjects as Lost and parkour.[3] Her videos have received more than 25 million views, 16 million on YouTube alone.[4] Her popularity is such that a video about her wanting to order a cheeseburger got 600,000 YouTube views in a week. She is sometimes described as a "lifecasting star,"[5] a "new media star,"[6] or one of the web's most popular lifecasters.[7] In 2008, she relocated her base of operation from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Los Angeles, California.[8]

Ezarik is known for her "300-page iPhone bill", which followed the first month of service after the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. The viral video earned her international attention and celebrity.[9] The bad publicity that AT&T earned as a result of her video featuring her reviewing this bill and similar stories coincided with the announcement that detailed billing would become optional for iPhone users.[10] As of June 1, 2009, she had over a half a million Twitter followers, and nearly 100,000 subscribers to the iJustine YouTube channel.[11] By December 2009 these numbers had grown to about 1 million twitter followers and 300,000 YouTube subscribers, and USA Today estimated that her videos have attracted a total of 64 million viewers.[12]

Contents

Background

Ezarik with lifecasting equipment

The daughter of a coal miner and gym teacher, Ezarik grew up in Pennsylvania.[13] Her parents are Michelle and Steve Ezarik.[14] At the time of her high school graduation, she resided in the Scenery Hill area in Washington County, Pennsylvania.[15] She and her younger sister Breanne, who was three grades behind her, were honor students at Bentworth High School, where Justine was a member of the class of 2002.[16][17][18] Breanne (Bentworth class of 2005) went on to be one of the school's best volleyball players, and class president.[14][19] Justine's youngest sister, Jenna (Bentworth class of 2008) was an All-state volleyball player as well as an honor student.[20][21] Upon graduation from high school, Justine earned the annual scholarship from the Washington Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals.[15]

Early career

After graduating from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute in 2004, Ezarik landed several jobs in graphic design and video editing before starting her own business.[13] In December 2006, she was named one of five finalists in the "Yahoo! Talent Show", a Yahoo! sponsored competition for best online videos,[22] finishing second to Rex Hermogino, who won the US$50,000 prize.[23] In April 2007, Ezarik made a one-day guest appearance on Justin.tv while Kan was conferencing with venture capitalists. During the appearance, she spent the day at Union Square and shopped at Apple and Old Navy. At the Apple store, she jested that she had to wear the life-casting apparel because she was visually impaired.[13]

Screenshot from the iJustine lifecast video showing WPXI-TV reporter Andy Gastmeyer pointing to the webcam while discussing the live webcast of his interview with Ezarik on August 15, 2007.

She played a photojournalist covering a bank robbery in downtown Pittsburgh on the television series The Kill Point from Spike TV filmed in May 2007. The show, which starred John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, was shot over the course of two weeks ending on May 25, 2007.[13] In 2007, she was an occasional co-host and panel member on MacBreak and MacBreak Weekly with Leo Laporte.[24][25][26]

Ezarik appears live on the Internet through the use of a wireless webcam and microphone on her own iJustine [2] lifecasting channel on Justin Kan's Justin.tv, where she began transmitting her life via the Internet on May 29, 2007.[13][27] She was never paid for any of this volunteer work on Kan's channel as a beta-tester.[8]

Her reality-video blog was the first one launched on Justin.tv.[28] Kan had been encouraged by fans and followers to allow someone else to make a guest appearance on his lifecasting channel.[29] On May 31, 2007, she explained how her initial contact with Kan and his team led to her lifecasting channel to Asher Moses of The Sydney Morning Herald:

Justine, a 23-year-old freelance graphic and web designer from Pittsburgh, said the camera-equipped baseball cap - and the legions of fans watching online - would follow her almost everywhere, except on visits to the bathroom. "I'll basically have the camera on 24/7 but if there is something I can't do [meetings, etc] with it on, i'll just leave it at home or let someone borrow it," she told smh.com.au. Justine is certainly no stranger to web video, having posted a plethora of short clips on video sharing sites Revver and Jumpcut... Justine said she first met her male counterpart at the San Francisco Macworld conference in January, and in April wore his camera for a day as a favor. "We briefly talked about me having a camera then and pretty much started finalizing things in the past week or so. I had the equipment on Thursday, and we tested it out Sunday-Monday and went live this Tuesday!"[30]

At first Ezarik was considering producing a video series for the technology audience because they had been the most captive audience for online video series.[31] She stated that she did not intend to broadcast what she considers private moments, noting "That shouldn't be a problem. I am going to try as much as I can to do 24/7."[13]

When the iPhone debuted in June 2007, Ezarik covered the device's debut at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota a suburb south of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She had been invited by Technology Evangelist to film her Internet TV show at the mall instead of covering its debut at the Shadyside Apple store as she had originally planned.[32]

She covered the July 22, 2007 "The Kill Point" series premiere party live on her lifecast video stream.[33] Ezarik has been cited as being among the website's most popular lifecasters in October 2007 issues of both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.[34][35]

300-page iPhone bill

Ezarik and iPhone (2008-11-14)

In August 2007, she created "300-page iPhone bill", a viral video which quickly became an Internet meme. Stories of unexpected billing issues began to circulate in blogs and the technical press after the Apple iPhone's heavily advertised and anticipated release, but this video clip brought the voluminous bills to the attention of the mass media. Ten days after its initial posting, the video had been viewed more than 3 million times on the Internet, and had received international news coverage.[36][37] The video was later reported to have reached over 8 million total views as of December 2007.[38] The video earned Ezarik a $5,000 payout from the video hosting service Revver.[39] She was interviewed by several media outlets in connection with her iPhone bill video, including USA Today,[40] ABC News,[41] CNN,[42] Fox News Channel,[43] WTAE-TV,[44] and WPXI-TV. In the WPXI interview, the interviewer was surprised to learn that his interview was being shown live on the iJustine webcast.[45] In a live telephone interview on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" program, the interviewer discussed being able to see Ms. Ezarik's lifecast video stream of the interview on his computer while he was interviewing her.[46]

The original format of the iPhone bills itemized every call, every Internet use, every text message or every sent e-mail. The detail included information about every time users updated the weather or checked the stock market. Many customers had bills that were so lengthy that they arrived in boxes like Ezarik's did. After the publicity surrounding the bills, especially Ezarik's, and their formats, AT&T announced that bills subsequent to September 28, 2007 would be default to a summary format, with detail provided upon request for a fee. Company spokesmen said they had been planning to make the change to summary format regardless of the publicity.[10] Customers had the option of online billing, summary or detailed with the change.[40] Ezarik switched to e-billing.[9] However, the original iPhone software, like other smartphones such as the BlackBerry or the Palm Treo, did not include functionality to switch off data roaming. This means automatic updating means heavy data users travelling overseas will have costly bills regardless of the billing format.[47]

Viral video career and Internet celebrity status

Ezarik was also featured in the August 28, 2007 weekly installment of Kevin Sites' People of the Web series on Yahoo! News along with Justin Kan, the creator of Justin.TV. Sites called her "the star of this network so far," and said "she has model good looks and easy cyber savvyness that attracts both technophiles and casual users alike." The final cut of the interview video included footage from the live web cast of the interview that showed Ezarik's webcam viewpoint. When Sites asked her to turn off her lifecasting equipment later in the interview, he noted that "at once the conversation seemed more relaxed and natural," and she discussed the difficulty of having people watching and publicly judging her all day.[48]

New Media Expo 2008
Left: with Gary Vaynerchuk and Leo Laporte; Center: with Vaynerchuk, et al.; Right with Sarah Austin, Amber MacArthur, and Laporte

In an interview published September 21, 2007 she discussed her lifecasting activities with a reporter for TG Daily, telling him that she has tried not to change her personal routine, except that she now vocalizes her thoughts by talking to herself for the benefit of the audience. She also now concerns herself with what the people around her are saying, especially if they try to share private information like phone numbers. In discussing her personal safety concerns, she said, “I've had a lot of people show up places that I am, call hotels and restaurants that I'm at. Everything has to be taken into consideration. I'm also very lucky that nothing bad has happened so far. Makes me think I should quit before it does!”[49]

In early September 2007, she was featured as the lead story on the Yahoo! homepage, which boosted her ratings up to as high as 4000 viewers at any given moment.[9] As of late September 2007, she was living in Pittsburgh and held a position as spokesperson for Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto. She also landed a job with Xtrain, which was a firm that specializes in new media expert training. Although her father remained supportive, her friends were beginning to tire of the intrusive nature of her activities by the end of 2007.[9] In October 2007, she was described as one of the web's most popular lifecasters in Tribune Company affiliates such as the Chicago Tribune.[7]

Ezarik at MySpace party (2008-11-06)
Ezarik at Podcamp AZ (2008-11-02)

By April 2008, Ezarik had largely reduced her lifecasting productions to a less frequent basis. She had resumed pursuit of her web designer and video editor career and was living in Carnegie. Her new equipment by Nokia enabled her to lifecast and produce streaming video live without a computer connection. She continued to make weekly appearances on her own iJustine website at www.ijustine.tv.[50] Still a Carnegie resident at the time, Ezarik planned to be vacationing in North Carolina when the iPhone 3G was released in July 2008 and hoped to find an AT&T wireless store to upgrade while on vacation.[51]

Ezarik posted a video about wanting to order a cheeseburger on YouTube. It got 600,000 views in its first week.[8] Ezarik has come to view iJustine as a character. As a result, she does not curse or drink on any videos she releases.[8] By April 2009 she reduced her lifecasting a few hours a week.[52] When Ezarik first moved to Los Angeles, she was managed by Richard Frias, who also manages YouTube celebrities HappySlip and KevJumba[8], but according to a post on Ezarik's alternate Twitter account, she is currently unmanaged and earns money for appearing at conferences and in online promotional spots.[53] She believes that her fanbase is predominately between the ages of 11 and 18.[8] In a few of her YouTube videos, in addition to her common persona as iJustine, she played the role of an additional character eJustine, who acts as a sort of antagonist against protagonist iJustine. In contrast to iJustine's blond hair and normal looks, eJustine is portrayed as a brunette with a wild hairstyle and strange-looking eyeglasses.[54]

In October 2008, she became the host of an online, twice weekly music and lifestyle program produced by PluggedIn.com called The PluggedIn 5.[55] She now resides in Los Angeles, California.[8] She has a series of advertisements by the name of "Lost in America" appearing on AT&T's website.[8] The series of ads, which features Ezarik and Karen Nguyen who is a well-known blogger, has not been viewed as successful in the advertising industry. The series has Ezarik and Nguyen getting lost in various locales and solving their problems using AT&T equipment. After the first eleven episodes over the course of two weeks in November 2008, the series only registered a total of 31,000 views according to Tubemogul.[4]

Ezarik was also hired to appear in three commercials for a national TV ad campaign for Mozy, an award-winning online backup and recovery system.[56] She has also been hired by MTV and Dick Clark Productions to host online preshows for awards broadcasts.[12] In April 2009, she had approximately 50,000 MySpace friends and the system limit of 5,000 Facebook friends.[52] An April 2009, USA Today article credited her with 386,000 Twitter followers.[57] By June 2009, she had 590,000 Twitter followers, 94,000 subscribers to the iJustine YouTube channel and 25,000 Facebook fans.[11] The USA Today story goes on to describe how she has scaled down her lifecasting because of its deleterious impact on her life.[57] Carl's Jr. has hired a team of YouTube stars, including Ezarik to produce made-for-web ads for their new Portobello Mushroom Six-Dollar Burger on the Carl's Jr. YouTube channel, each endorser's YouTube page, and other Google-related media outlets.[11] Following the August 6, 2009, Twitter Denial-of-service attack, Ezarik was featured in The Wall Street Journal describing her coping mechanisms, such as repeatedly tapping the F5 function key (the refresh button), for Twitter outages.[58] On November 4, 2009 she appeared as AJ, a 16 year-old crime victim, in an episode of Law and Order: SVU.[59] She was also shown as a contestant on the 7,000th episode of The Price is Right the day after.[60] In December 2009, USA Today reported that Ezarik earns about $75,000 annually from YouTube, and claims she has nearly a million followers on Twitter and 300,00 YouTube subscribers. The same article estimated that she has been viewed on YouTube a total of 64 million times and that her spoof on the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" drew 4.8 million viewers.[12] The article notes that Ezarik does her work with a $400 Canon Powershot digital camera and a $12 green rug from Ikea to create her green screen.[12]

See also

References

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  2. ^ a b Ezarik, Justine; iJustine on Justin.tv
  3. ^ Tady, Scott. "Girls To Watch: Justine Ezarik". Go Magazine. http://www.goburgh.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=76&Itemid=69. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
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  19. ^ "Bentworth not settling for second". Observer-Reporter. Newsbank. 2005-10-14. http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:NewsBank:WORB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=10D3E24DC2A2F510&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=0D0CB579A3BDA420. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
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  21. ^ "Volleyball all-state team". Erie Times-News. Newsbank. 2007-12-23. http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:NewsBank:ETMB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=11DB8572876251E0&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=0D0CB579A3BDA420. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
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  23. ^ "Filam wins top Yahoo talent show - U.S. News". Manila Mail, Philippines. Maya Media, Inc. 2007-01-14. http://manilamaildc.net/article1493.html. Retrieved 2007-09-04. "Hermogino, a 31-year-old singer and songwriter ... edged out Justine Ezarik, a filmmaker from Pennsylvania, to earn $50,000." 
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  25. ^ "MacBreak Weekly 89: Shrimp Torrents (106:08)". Last.fm Ltd.. http://www.last.fm/music/Hosts:+Leo+Laporte,+Andy+Ihnatko,+Justine+Ezarik,+Alex+Lindsay,+and+Merlin+Mann/_/MacBreak+Weekly+89:+Shrimp+Torrents. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
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  33. ^ Hentges, Rochelle (2007-07-23). "Hundreds pack Altar Bar for 'Kill Point' premiere". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/cityregion/s_518584.html. Retrieved 2007-09-14. "Ezarik held her digital camera over her head, taking pictures of her mirror image on screen, as she played a photojournalist reporting on the bank heist." 
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