13 DEC 2022

Who are Gen Z’s favorite actors and content creators?

Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 were asked their opinions of 35 film actors and 35 internet content creators in a new Morning Consult survey set out to determine which stars they most like to see on their screens.

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Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 were asked their opinions of 35 film actors and 35 internet content creators in a new Morning Consult survey set out to determine which stars they most like to see on their screens. Wrestler-turned-movie star Dwayne Johnson earned the highest net favorability rating among the former group, and YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, took the top spot among the latter.

While both significantly outperformed all of their tested peers, MrBeast did so by an extremely wide margin — his net favorability rating was nearly double that of the next most popular content creator, Zach King. Among actors, Tom Holland and Johnny Depp followed Johnson in a closer fashion.

The survey also found that Gen Zers may look to further blur the lines between more traditional celebrity and internet-driven fame in the future. Half said they are interested in seeing online creators play acting roles in Hollywood movies, and 48% said the same of seeing creators in television shows.

●  ACTORS VERSUS CREATORS

Overall, Gen Zers reported higher favorability ratings toward actors than creators. For example, the rating of Scarlett Johansson, who is number 10 on the top actors list, is more than six times that of the creator in the same position on the creators list (Loren Gray).

Furthermore, the study revealed that Gen Z favors actors known for superhero roles and content creators known for gaming or stunts. In fact, seven of the top 10 actors have played a superhero at least once in their careers. Meanwhile, an equal number of the top 10 creators are known for video game streaming or large-scale stunts. Donaldson, considered a pioneer of such content, is reportedly raising money for his offline merchandise and restaurant businesses at a US$1.5 billion valuation.

Moreover, Gen Zers want to see their favorite creators in the media they consume. In fact, half of Gen Zers want to see creators act in a movie, followed by music videos (49%) and TV shows (48%). TikTok creator Addison Rae starred in Netflix’s 2021 gender-swapped remake “He’s All That,” while Charli D’Amelio was recently cast to lead a supernatural thriller film. Meanwhile, Rae and fellow TikTokers Bella Poarch, Chase Hudson and Charli’s older sister, Dixie D’Amelio, have all signed record deals and released songs and music videos in recent years.

Morning Consult data shows that 45% of Gen Zers want to see creators in movies and TV shows as themselves. Popular gamers such as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins made an appearance as himself in the Ryan Reynolds-led film “Free Guy,” while the D’Amelio family has their own reality series on Hulu. Charli, a competitive dancer before gaining fame on TikTok, also appeared on and won the latest season of “Dancing with the Stars.”

●  THE CHANGING NATURE OF CELEBRITY

Traditional actors still generally have higher favorability ratings among Gen Zers than their creator counterparts, and many of them, including Johnson, Reese Witherspoon and Selena Gomez, have jumped on platforms like YouTube and TikTok to stay relevant with that audience. As Gen Zers continue to look for internet influences in more of the content they consume, Hollywood will likely continue to experiment with ways to include popular creators, either through direct collaboration or via a stylistic approach that caters to how Gen Z sees the world.

According to Morning Consult, NBCUniversal’s recently launched Creator Accelerator is an example of what this kind of intertwined media ecosystem might look like. The yearlong program pairs its cohort of 11 creators with a development mentor who will help them produce both scripted and unscripted content.

But the crossover will not succeed automatically. Rae’s performance in “He’s All That,” for instance, was mostly panned by critics and audiences. A creator’s popularity might be enough to get Gen Z initially interested, but in order to build the franchises that sustain modern Hollywood, content creators will have to demonstrate some actual talent, Morning Consult noted.

The November 2-8, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1.000 Gen Zers in the United States between the ages of 13 and 25, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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