Born In: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
One of YouTube’s earliest stars, Ray William Johnson is an American actor, director, comedian, scriptwriter, producer, and rapper. He shot to fame in 2009, with the now cult show Equals Three. Since then, he has tried his hands at various related fields with a fair amount of success in most of them. However, his talent has not been limited to just YouTube as he has acted, or been associated in other ways, in various web series and documentaries. Although dark and often raw in many ways, his unique content has managed to enthrall all age groups across the globe. As a result of his popularity, he has worked with a number of celebrities and other YouTube stars such as Snoop Dogg and Robin Williams, to name a few.
Born Country: United States
U.S. State: Oklahoma
City: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
education: Columbia University
Ray William Johnson was born on 14 August, 1981 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He spent his childhood there and attended the Norman North High School in 1999.
After graduating from high school in 1999, Ray attended the Columbia University with a major in history. Initially, he wanted to be a lawyer but that never materialized.
The creative streak in him manifested as early as his college years. He started a YouTube channel and published video blogs encompassing various subjects. The channel was not a big hit at that time, with only 30 people following it.
Ray’s YouTube career started with his namesake channel in the April of 2009. He started publishing videos in a series called Equals Three (=3). It became instantly famous making Ray an overnight celebrity. The series contained a string of videos commenting on popular YouTube videos. Funny, sarcastic, and often dark, his commentary immediately connected with millions of people worldwide.
The series went on to create many landmarks and records at the time. His channel Ray William Johnson became the first channel to cross the five million subscribers mark on YouTube. The number of followers on his channel has been on a constant upward spiral ever since. The total views on his channel has crossed a whopping 5.7 billion. The popularity of Equals Three was such that for almost two years (2011-2013), the channel had the highest number of subscribers on the site. In the early months of 2012, Ray created history by being the first YouTube millionaire.
It was not a walk in the park for him. His videos faced extreme criticism and negative reviews from a particular section of critics who found it extremely crass and not suitable to be called comedy. However, these critiques were few and far between to stall Ray William Johnson’s meteoric growth.
Notwithstanding these criticisms, some of which even claimed that he does copyright infringement by creating content on already viral videos, Ray continued to do what he does best, make videos. He even partnered with a studio, Maker Studios, who provided him with a set in Culver City, California in 2011. Before then, Ray William Johnson used to make the videos in his apartment in New York City.
Later that year, Ray did a Spanish version of his hit show Equals Three, namely, Igual a Tres. Although it did not break the ceiling like the original show, this show was well received by the Spanish speaking populace. Around the same time, they created another YouTube channel Your Favorite Martian, where they made funny animated videos.
However, there was soon trouble in paradise as Ray had a massive fallout with the producers at Maker Studios, majorly over the stakes at the channel. The studio allegedly wanted to take a 40% cut from his previous shows and a 50% stake of the Intellectual Property of Your Favorite Martian. Ray, quite understandably, refused to sign the agreement and hence, they parted ways in October 2012.
Soon afterwards, Ray William Johnson laid the foundation of his own studio, namely, Equals Three Studio. However, the fallout between him and Maker Studios added to the diminishing quality of his content and videos, and that saw a plunge in Ray’s growth curve for the first time in years.
The show Equals Three was discontinued from March 2014, with Ray venturing into new fields. The show was later aired again with Robby Motz as the new host.
Next on Ray’s list was a video series of five episodes called Riley Rewind. Released exclusively on Facebook, this series was extremely well received by fans and critics alike. As of 2022, his Facebook profile has more than 7.7 million followers.
He was simultaneously working on a podcast called Runaway Thoughts with his then girlfriend, Anna Akana. The podcast was successful, earning a place in Variety’s list of Top podcasts of 2013.
In the years that followed, Ray has been busy with numerous productions under his banner. He has been associated with various projects in various capacities including actor, director, writer, and producer. The shows that aired under his banner include Booze Lightyear, Top 6, Comedians on, and Date Debate.
Apart from his own productions, Ray has also been a part of a number of productions from different studios. He did the voice role of Boba Fett and a full portrayal of Goku in Marker Studio’s Epic rap Battles of History. He has also featured in movies such as Who’s Driving Doug and Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie. Other movies that he has been associated with are The Professionals, The Annoying Orange, Breaking NYC, Breaking LA, The Fluffy Movie, Manson Family Vacation, and We Love You.
In 2015, Ray partnered with his former colleague at Equals Three, Kaja Martin, to establish the Mom & Pop Empire, a film production house.
Ray William Johnson won critical acclaim with his web series Riley Rewind, which earned him the seventh spot of Variety magazine’s Best Web Series of 2013 list.
He also got a place at the prestigious Hollywood Reporter’s list of Comedy Class of 2013.
Despite being one of the most widely followed YouTube personalities, Ray William Johnson has managed to keep his personal life relatively low profile. He does have a younger brother with whom he is quite close.
He once dated his YouTube co-star Anna Akana but they soon parted ways.
At present, it is rumored that he has been dating Kelly Farral since 2016. In May 2022, Ray William Johnson announced that he got engaged to Kelly Farral.
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