Mike Smalls Jr: MSU Freshman turned his fame into opportunity!

April 4, 2017
  • Ever wondered how social media could be helpful towards college? Learn about Mike!
  • Mike Smalls Jr. has become famous on internet and turned his popularity into an opportunity to go to MSU. 
  • Continuing to make comedic videos, Smalls Jr. dreams of becoming a famous live broadcaster. 

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Mike Smalls Jr. at MSU Library. Photo by Noushin Mahmood

Mike Smalls Jr. at MSU Library. Photo by Noushin Mahmood

You may have never heard of Michael Isadore Small Jr.

But perhaps you have heard of the internet star known as “Mike Smalls Jr.”

Smalls (that’s what he prefers), a Michigan State University freshman from Kalamazoo, Mich., majoring in advertising, has gained fame and academic fortune for his experience in video entertainment and live broadcasting, all of which has allowed him to pursue his studies at MSU.

It all started with making funny videos on Keek when Smalls was a high school freshman, and soon he had grown thousands of followers.

“Growing up, I was a shy kid with random and weird ideas,” he said. “One day, I just thought about making videos for them and that changed my life.”

His first video was about an evil Elmo and it was uploaded on Keek for 36 seconds. It got multiple views and inspired him to continue.

“At first, it was just for myself,” said Smalls. “My parents didn’t know about it either. I didn’t think about money or fame, it was just for fun.”

His comedic video won the contest “Discover Me” on Keek and he became one of the most popular broadcasters. That landed him an opportunity to co-host the 2014 Teen Choice awards in Los Angles, Calif.

“It was a lifetime opportunity for a high school kid, and definitely one of the most exciting moments in my life,” he stated. “In L.A., I tried to act cool at first. But soon I realized I might not get another chance like this. I started talking to people. I interviewed Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian, Jason Derulo and some famous Viners.”

Smalls said that his parents weren’t always sure of what he was doing, and he experienced some criticism from his friends at school, too. But as his popularity grew, his friends and parents alike became more and more supportive.

Later, he joined YouNow, a recently launched live broadcasting platform that is growing in popularity. “I like the idea of live videos, unscripted and unedited,” continued Smalls. “It’s harder, but a fun challenge.” Soon he got over 200,000 fans, became a partner in YouNow and started making money for his videos.

A February 17th live broadcast on MTV’s YouNow channel garnered Smalls 54,000 views.

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Screenshot of Mike's YouNow Channel. Screenshot taken by Morris Arvoy

Screenshot of Mike's YouNow Channel. Screenshot taken by Morris Arvoy

In high school, Smalls had planned to attend community college given the cost of tuition. But his growing popularity helped him to get noticed by the MSU admissions staff and he received a $52,000 scholarship from the Media Sandbox at MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

“I never even dreamed of being somewhere so big as MSU,” he said. “I love it here, and I am so grateful for the help I got.”

Smalls Jr. chose advertising as his major to continue peruse his passion for making videos and broadcasting. He likes to learn about social media marketing and creative advertising.

Considering his unique personality and fame, Media Sandbox launched a project featuring him and another freshman and Vine star, Miles Hampton, called “Mike and Miles.” The show features their funny and candid videos shot on campus, along with them interviewing students, faculty and staff.

“People—especially parents—are mostly suspicious about social media, and they have reasons to be,” said Smalls. “But if you use it for a better cause, it can actually help you. I didn’t just get scholarships for my videos. I worked for advertising Uber in my live broadcasts, and they offered me free rides, anytime and anywhere.”

He said his faith, consistency and hard work keep him balanced as he aims for a career in broadcasting, perhaps becoming a TV show host like Ellen DeGeneres or Jimmy Fallon.

According to this freshman, it’s very important to keep working towards someone’s passion, and have a work-life balance. “Talent alone can’t get you very far,” Smalls said. “Everyone has creativity, but not everyone pushes it. People have good ideas but they don’t try hard enough to execute it. The truth is, the more you’ll try to think about creative ideas, the more you’ll get them. And the more time you’ll work to make them come true, the more you’ll succeed.”

“But success alone don’t identify you as a person,” he continued. “I know the importance of being humble and I want my actions to define me, and I want to be loved for my works.”

Smalls Jr, working on YouNow at MSU Library. Photo by Noushin Mahmood

Smalls Jr, working on YouNow at MSU Library. Photo by Noushin Mahmood

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