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State of Wonder

Sunshine Girl, Oregon's Surprise YouTube Star, Conquers Books and...TV?


Paige McKenzie as Sunshine Girl in her film "THR33 - A Haunted House."

Paige McKenzie as Sunshine Girl in her film “THR33 - A Haunted House.”

YouTube

In 2010, a series of videos started appearing on YouTube called “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl.” They were DIY, Blair Witch-style episodes following a charismatic 16-year-old who wanted to prove the existence of ghosts to her mom. Consider it “Paranormal Activity” meets “Gilmore Girls.”

With no promotion whatsoever, the first few episodes quickly racked up five million views. The series now has had more than 140 million views, making Sunshine Girl one of the most successful YouTube stars in the Northwest.

And all this has been accomplished by a mother-daughter duo and a producer friend with a flip cam.

From the episode 16, "Escaping the Ghost," in the season "The Woodsman."

From the episode 16, “Escaping the Ghost,” in the season “The Woodsman.”

Now the actor behind sunshine girl, Paige McKenzie, has a YA book out and a TV deal with the Weinstein company. She’ll read from “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl” on Saturday, May 9 at 4 p.m. at Jacobsen’s Books in Hillsboro.
 
McKenzie inhabits a virtual world of contradictions only possible in our digital age. She is on one hand wholly authentic and unfiltered, and yet her very nature is utterly calculated. She is intimately accessible, broadcasting from her bedroom and talking with fans via social media, and yet she’s incredibly cloistered. Nobody except her blood relatives even has her cell number. In a way, she’s a ghost in the machine, tethered to her flip cam and haunting her own Youtube network.

Aaron Scott has the story.

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