Before video-based platforms like TikTok and Instagram existed, YouTube was the go-to place for quality video entertainment. It was this giant online video sharing and social media platform that enabled popular American YouTuber and internet personality, Ryan Higa, to become one of the most popular video influencers of the past decade. Best known for his viral ‘How to Be’ comedy series, His channel NigaHiga was the first YouTube channel to hit 3 million subscribers, and at some point, he even had more subscribers than THE pop singer, Taylor Swift– so yes, he was really quite a big deal.
Ryan is also famous for his rib-cracking music video parodies and his ‘Off the Pill’ rants. So far, his comedy videos have accumulated over 4 billion views in total since he created his channel in 2006. Many others have since surpassed Ryan’s numbers, but you cannot deny that NigaHiga was one of the pioneers of video blogging in America and very likely in the world as well.
Ryan Higa’s Profile Summary
- Name: Ryan Higa
- Date of birth: June 6, 1990
- Age: 31 Years Old
- Place of Birth: Hilo, Hawaii, USA
- Nationality: America
- Ethnicity: East-Asian
- Zodiac sign: Gemini
- Occupation: YouTuber, Comedian, Actor, and Musician
- Height: 5 feet 8 inches
- Weight: 65 kg
- Net worth: $12 million
- YouTube: NigaHiga, Higa TV
- Twitch: ItsRyanHiga
- Website: www.higatv.com
- Years Active: 2006 – date
Ryan Higa’s Early Life
The 31-year-old YouTube celebrity was born on June 6, 1990, in the small county of Hilo on the Island of Hawaii in the United States of America. His parents, Wendell and Luci Higa are of Okinawan descent and are originally from Japan in East Asia. He grew up with an older brother named Kyle who is a radiologist and now lives in Las Vegas.
Ryan attended the Waiakea High School, a public co-educational secondary school located opposite the University of Hawaii. In high school, he was very athletic and performed in the school’s wrestling and judo teams- he happens to hold a black belt in the latter sport. After graduating in 2008, he moved to Las Vegas for his college education. At Vegas, he got admitted to study Nuclear Medicine but pulled out after a year because he found the course tedious and unfulfilling.
By this time, he was already a famous vlogger and his first YouTube video had gone viral worldwide. He contemplated reviewing his medical career path and finally decided to follow his true passion. So Ryan went back to college, but this time to study filmmaking.
A Timeline of Ryan Higa’s Career
Ryan’s YouTube career began as far back as when he was in junior high school. When he was younger, he and his friend, Sean Fujiyoshi, would lament about the lack of recreational facilities in Hilo. They soon decided to stop complaining and they made a video, just for the fun of it. When he first started making short videos, he never took them seriously and would only show his parents and close friends. He only began uploading to the newly created streaming platform, YouTube, after receiving lots of encouragement from people who had seen his amateur videos.
Ryan’s Kicked Off His YouTube Career In 2006
On the 20th of July in 2006, Ryan created his first YouTube channel with his friends Sean, Tim Enos, and Tarynn Nago. They named it NigaHiga which means “rant Higa” when loosely translated from Japanese to English. Ryan and his friends made a formidable team and in no time, they had begun to attract some public attention. Initially, they were uploading lip-sync videos but they later switched things up and decided to make comedy skits instead. The results were mind-blowing and before one year, they had created their first viral video, ‘How to be ninja’.
The success of this video spawned other ‘How to be…’ videos including ‘How to be Gangster’ and ‘How to be Emo’. By the year 2010, NigaHiga had amassed followership of over 3 million subscribers, making it the first YouTube channel to achieve the feat. Ryan went on to create more parody videos including the Skitzo series, ‘Dear Ryan’ series, ‘Off the Pill’ series, and the ‘Rant’ series. All of these videos had millions of views.
At the height of his YouTube career, Ryan had received multiple Teen Choice Award nominations, three Streamy Awards, and a Young Hollywood Award. In 2016, he was awarded the YouTube Creator of the year. He also created a backup YouTube channel called Higa TV which has amassed over 3 million subscribers.
He Ventured Into The Movie Industry In 2008
Ryan has enjoyed a booming acting career for about thirteen years. He launched into acting almost immediately after his YouTube big break. In 2008, he was approached by Los Angeles-based producer and director, Richard Van Vleet, who made them an offer to help them create their first feature-length movie titled ‘Ryan and Sean’s Not So Excellent Adventure’. It was released in November 2008 and sold out in theatres across Los Angeles and California but didn’t perform too well outside the US.
From 2008 to date, Ryan has featured in numerous movies and TV series including, Electric Spoofaloo, Supah Ninjas, Saved by the Bell, and Love Vampires. He ventured into the horror genre in the 2016 movie Tell Me How I Die. As a producer, Ryan Higa’s movie credits further expanded to include, Ninja Melk, The Last Skitzo, and Agents of Secret Stuff. Most recently, he appeared on the Netflix original movie, Finding Ohana (2021).
Ryan’s Foray Into Business
Ryan didn’t just spend all his time creating video content for YouTube, there was a business side of himself that he needed to explore. In 2012, he created the YOMYOMF network to promote video-making competitions among YouTubers. He became one of the judges of the Internet Icon show alongside Timothy DeLaGhetto and Christine Lakin. In 2015, he and Sean created a production company called the Ryan Higa Production Company. It was located in a studio in Henderson, Nevada. The network was created to edit the videos uploaded to his YouTube channels. They headed the company together until 2018 when Sean had to leave for college.
Ryan also co-founded another company, this time with friends Kathleen Hahn and Kyle Schroeder. The company name, Ninja Melk, LLC was inspired by Ryan’s 2009 short film of the same name. Together, the three developed an energy drink which was launched in May 2019. Higa promoted the drink on his YouTube channel to his over 21 million subscribers in a short stop-motion video. The drink is an extremely popular one, with over 850 reviews on Amazon and nearly 500,000 cans sold worldwide.
Leveraging His Internet Popularity, Higa Launched His Music Career
Ryan’s venture into music might have seemed like overkill at this point but he surprised us and outdid himself once again. In 2016, Ryan formed a K-pop boy band called ‘Boys Generally Asian’ aka BgA. The group was made up of himself and his fellow YouTubers, David Choi, Philip Wang, Justin Chon, and Jun Sung Ahn. Their debut single called “Dong Saya Dae”, was meant to be a parody of Korean pop songs but turned out to be an unexpected hit, and peaked at No. 2 on the official iTunes K-Pop chart with over 20 million YouTube videos.
The group released a second song called, “Who’s It Gonna Be” in 2017. This song was a more serious effort than the first; it was also a bigger hit, clinching the number one spot on the Korean iTunes chart. “Who’s It Gonna Be” also reached No. 3 on the World Digital Song Chart and charted briefly on two Billboard charts, as well as the Spotify Viral 50 Chart in 2017. As a solo artist, Ryan Higa has dropped singles such as “I’m Hardcore” featuring David Choi and JR Aquino in 2011, “Millennial Love” featuring Kina Grannis in 2017, “8 Grapes”, released in 2018, and “Exposed” featuring David Choi in 2019. They all gathered moderate commercial success.
Why Was Ryan Higa Banned From Twitch?
By now we are familiar with the fact that Ryan loves to try new things. He stopped uploading videos to his YouTube channel in early 2020. Before his fans could begin to panic, it was discovered that he had migrated to the live streaming gaming network, Twitch. He joined the platform in the April of 2020 and he has over 500,000 followers already. While this figure is significantly lower than that of his YouTube channel, it is clear that Ryan hasn’t lost his ability to grab people’s attention –no matter the platform.
On the 25th of March 2021, Ryan encountered a small problem on his new platform. It happened that the internet star was banned midstream and immediately logged out of the platform without warning. The reason for the ban was cited as “hateful conduct” and this left his fans confused and indignant. The ban did not last very long, however, as his account was restored in less than 15 minutes, making it Twitch’s fastest unban ever. This was probably due to Ryan’s sheer star power –because his fans were ready to shut Twitch down and the issue just couldn’t be ignored any longer.
The reason for the ban was said to be a system glitch, however, some people believe his account was flagged because of his name “NigaHiga” which could sound offensive to people unaware of his Japanese origin. Thankfully, he got unbanned and was issued an apology from Twitch’s management who said that the ban was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened. That’s right Twitch, it shouldn’t.
What is Ryan Higa’s Net Worth?
Ryan has an estimated net worth of over $12 million. A very large percentage of his earning comes from his YouTube channel which receives close to 20 million views per month. YouTube usually has a payment rate of $3 – $5 for every 1000 monetized views. A rough calculation reveals that Ryan’s income from YouTube alone averages an amount of $80 000 monthly, bringing his YouTube yearly earnings to almost a million dollars. For an influencer of his caliber, that is no surprise at all. Ryan’s influence is so powerful that even after leaving YouTube since 2020, his channel NigaHiga still records an average of 5 million views monthly.
Ryan also earns sizeable royalties from the sale of his autobiography, ‘How to Write Good’, released in 2007. His energy drink brand, Ninja Melk has sold considerably well. In 2021 business directory company, Dun & Bradstreet reported that Ninja Melk, LLC has recorded a revenue of over $300 000 annually.
Is The YouTube Star Married or Dating Anyone at The Moment?
Sometimes, it could be quite lonely at the top. This is why most successful people have a closely-knit network of friends who support them in their careers. Ryan’s gang was made up of his friends Sean, Tarynn, and Tim. They called themselves the ‘Yabo Crew’. When Sean left for high school, the friendship became strained due to distance but they still remained friends.
One of the crew members and fellow YouTube star, Tarynn Nago, was Ryan’s first love and girlfriend. The two Hilo-born friends began dating in 2006. During this period, Nago featured in many of Ryan’s video productions and is especially known for her role as ‘Gina’ in NigaHiga’s popular short film, Ninja Melk. They were always together because of their jobs and were one of YouTube’s most talked-about couples in the mid-2000s. They broke up in 2010 and while nobody knows the exact cause of the breakup, it was believed that they had silently begun to compete with each other as Tarynn had her own YouTube music channel that she was trying to promote.
They never discussed their breakup in any interview or video and it is not clear if they are still friends. Tarynn got married to a realtor named Larson Oliva in October, 2012. At the beginning of 2010, it was alleged that Ryan had begun dating a woman called Andrea Thi. It’s not clear who she is or how they met but the relationship (if the rumors were true) was very brief and lasted for only a year.
Ryan Higa’s last publicly known relationship was with Teen Wolf actress, Arden Cho. Arden has featured in a couple of NigaHiga comedy skits and short videos. In 2010, she played Ryan’s love interest in his short film, ‘Agents of Secret Stuff’ and from that moment, fans began to hope for the two actors to begin a real-life relationship. It appears they listened because they began to appear on each other’s social media pages and traveled together numerous times.
They, however, didn’t make any official announcement about their relationship status until 2019 when Ryan announced in a video uploaded to his channel that he and Cho celebrated Valentine together. He also revealed that the relationship started as far back as 2015, but they decided to keep it private. After Ryan’s video announcement, Arden became a regular guest on his podcast series, as well as his comedy series. The couple was notorious for their sweet displays of affection in public and on social media.
By November 2019, fans had discovered that they were both noticeably absent from each other’s social media platforms, including on YouTube. And in March of the following year, Ryan made another announcement, this time confirming his separation from Cho. He did this in a video titled, ‘My Mid-Life Crisis’. He went on to clarify that he wasn’t seeing anyone at the moment and that his breakup with Cho was an amicable one.
Did Ryan Higa Really Cheat on Arden Cho?
It might seem that there was a little more to the infamous breakup than Ryan was willing to admit because exactly a week after that video was uploaded, Arden posted a series of mysterious messages on her Instagram story. The messages implied that Ryan had not been totally honest in their relationship and she topped it all up with a piercing caption that said, “Writing another sad song, I wonder if I should finish it or go to sleep?” Fans immediately concluded that she was referring to her recent ex-boyfriend and soon enough, rumors about Ryan’s alleged infidelity saturated the media.
He clapped back immediately with a response of his own on Twitter, vehemently denying the rumor and teasing fans for being “bored” because of the coronavirus lockdown.
The rumors quickly died down but lingering traces of doubt still remain in the minds of the fans of both. It was never clear whether the rumors were true or if they were created out of spite. Nevertheless, Ryan Higa is currently single and has been since his relationship with Cho ended in 2019.