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“Don’t be afraid to make the big step & pursue what you want.”

As a young boy growing up in Reston, Virginia, Jacob Sartorius always knew he wanted to help people. Long before his debut single, “Sweatshirt,” hit #10 on iTunes, and way before he amassed 3.6 million Instagram followers, Jacob had three passions: basketball, musical theatre, and magic. “My whole mindset was that I wanted to make an impact on people’s lives,” he says. “That’s what motivated me.”

At just eight years old, Jacob attended a youth theatre program in his hometown and discovered his love of acting and performing. “I did musical theatre for four years before the social media stuff,” he explains. “I was practicing every day with coaches and in acting classes.”

But while he thrived onstage, things were different at school. “I was bullied,” he shares. “Seventh grade was the year that I was really bullied. I posted a video on Vine that was against bullying and sent a message to stop it.”

While the Vine – his first ever – went viral, it didn’t change the bullying he endured at school. In fact, Jacob’s newfound social media fame only made things worse. “I had to switch schools,” he says. “Everyone has their opinion. You can’t help but just do you.”

And so he did exactly that, posting videos every day, and refusing to let negative opinions or comments stop him. Now, he’s performing for thousands of fans every day – living his longtime dream of making an impact on people’s lives. “It always means the most to me when people tell me I’ve helped them through something,” he says. “I’m a 13-year-old kid, but knowing that just means the world to me.”

With success comes the usual drama, rumors and haters. “A lot of people say that I’m Hollywood or that I don’t appreciate it,” he says. “But you can’t appreciate it enough. Meeting my fans is probably one of the best feelings in the whole world. They’re my number one – over everything.”

And he wants those fans to know that they don’t need millions of followers in order to make a difference. “For me I’m in that situation where I’m helping a lot of people at once,” he says. “But it can be your sister, or your best friend, or your girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s just good to know that you’re helping somebody else.”

And while it’s always good to help other people, it’s just as important to help yourself by following your dreams and doing what makes you happy. “Don’t be afraid to pursue whatever you want,” he says. “Other people weren’t a big fan of the musical theatre, or the social media side, or the singing part. But just do what you want and over time, people will get used to it. At first, you have to make the big step, but you shouldn’t be afraid to make the big step.”  

Photos by Joe Magnani

Story and video by Colleen Broomall

Styling by Robiat Balogun

Grooming by Rachel Burney

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