Stevie Ryan, the Los Angeles actress whose tough-chick character, Little Loca, emerged as one of the first stars of YouTube, is making the leap from the desktop to the small screen.
Ryan was named Thursday one of four hosts of the new CW reality series “Online Nation,” making her the first YouTube star to land a paid TV gig.
“This was inevitable,” said Josh Bernoff, an analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. “There is going to be a two-way membrane between television and the Internet, and you’ll see people flowing in both directions.”
Ryan will join a familiar online comedy duo, Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal (Rhett & Link), and a relative newcomer, Joy Leslie, on the half-hour, which will feature the best, funniest and most bizarre amateur Internet video clips.
The deal shows that Hollywood has started mining online video for talent, looking at budding actors and videographers who have gained recognition on sites such as YouTube, MetaCafe and Revver.
A native of Victorville, Ryan launched her Web career dabbling with a video camera and posting characters online. Little Loca, who she says was inspired by “tough chicks” she knew growing up, became a YouTube hit.
Ryan’s budding career mirrors the path taken by some musicians. The popular band Fall Out Boy carefully cultivated an online following through YouTube and MySpace before signing with Universal Music Group’s Island Def Jam.
Ghen Maynard, executive vice president of alternative programming for the CBS Paramount television group, said “Online Nation” attempts to not only capitalize on the popularity of Internet video but the hosts will epitomize the fresh and candid style of the show.
“If they’re a little green or a little raw, we’re OK with that,” Maynard said. “The idea was not to find the polished person who knows exactly which syllable to emphasize in the sentence.”