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Summary:

Five years ago today, the first ever video of lonelygirl15 was published on YouTube. Back then, many YouTube users thought lonelygirl15 was just an average teenager — but the character was part of a scripted show, which eventually became the first major web series success story.

lonelygirl15

Updated. Yes, it has really been five years since a teenage girl called Bree Avery uploaded her first video on YouTube. Bree continued to upload videos almost daily in the following months, buddying up with the YouTube community and sharing everyday moments of teenage angst. Check out that very first video one more time:

Of course, Bree turned out to be a fictional character played by the Australian actress Jessica Lee Rose. Her YouTube moniker lonelygirl15 turned into the first major web series success story, amassing more than 257 million views on YouTube, when counted together with various spinoffs. Her identity was revealed by a journalist three months after that first video, and her story took a turn for the surreal, complete with crazy cults and mysterious disappearances, once the illusion of authenticity was off the table.

Bree was killed off her own show in August 2007, but the production studio EQAL continued the format without her, and with various spinoffs like LG15: The Resistance. EQAL eventually morphed from a pure content production company into an agency that helps brands and celebrities like Kraft and Paula Deen with distribution of their online video assets. EQAL recently raised $3.5 million to grow this new part of its business.

As for Rose, she’s been starring in other web series productions, as well as on the TV shows Greek and Sorority Forever. Check out her thoughts on lonelygirl15 five years later:

Ed.: According to LGPedia, Rose isn’t Australian, but was born in Maryland and grew up in New Zealand.

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  1. We miss you Bree!!!!

    meep

    e^(i*pi)=-1

    WHOA!

    WE WILL NOT BE STOPPED

  2. By the way, Bree’s birthday is October 26th.

    :):):)

    1. spoken like a true fan :)

  3. Also, it has never been proven that Bree is actually dead!!!

    Bree LIVES!!!!!!

    meep

  4. Australian? Really? You might want to check your facts:

    http://www.lg15.com/lgpedia/index.php?title=Jessica_Lee_Rose

    :):):)

    1. Thanks for the note. We’ve updated the post.

  5. Miles Beckett Thursday, June 16, 2011

    I can’t believe it’s been 5 years! Fun fact: Bree’s actual birthday, October 26th, is my brother Graham’s real birthday.

  6. Feels like 10 years, or more, have gone by. . .

    Remember back when independent online video series held so much promise? Back when companies like VEOH were raising whack-loads of cash? When it looked like a new industry would arise, outside of the traditional Hollywood system (find any online video series now that isn’t a marketing tool for another medium?).

    Sure, there’s more online video now than ever, but the promise that Brightcove et al offered (then abandoned, yet succeeded in another direction) for offering platforms for a new breed of filmed storytelling is sort of sad to reminisce about.

    Today, everything’s an ad-unit, not a story.

    It would be interesting to get perspectives of those from “back in the day” about why it didn’t evolve as many had hoped? I’d say it was a failure to understand distribution rights, international licensing, etc. I only remember one online series that also had a small broadcast window in a few regions. The Veoh’s and Brightcove’s needed to bring in film and television distribution personnel to create a sustainable industry…that wouldn’t devolve to being ad unit snippets.

    1. Couldn’t have said it better myself. How did entertainment get lost in all of this?

  7. What we really want to know about is the scar on Bree’s back from the “Swimming” video.

    e^(i*pi)=-1

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