HONOLULU, Hawaii (KHON) — Ryan Kaji was only three years old when his parents started their YouTube channel in 2015. Back then, his parents recorded Ryan on their cellphone just to keep their own parents updated on their family adventures.
Fast forward to 2022, Ryan is now a 10-year-old millionaire living in Honolulu.
“We had no idea Ryan’s videos were going to be such a big hit, and we’ve been putting out fun videos ever since!” said Shion Kaji, Ryan’s dad. “It’s so much fun getting to film videos as a family.”
Ryan has twin sisters, Emma and Kate, who he loves to play with. They’ve already made appearances in his YouTube videos, which have a demographic of kids and parents.
When Ryan’s family first started making videos, their YouTube channel was called “Ryan ToysReview.” Ryan would open boxes and review the toys. It didn’t take long for a video to go viral, and within months, the number of subscribers kept going up. The Kajis soon quit their day jobs.
“With the success of the channel, we both decided to pursue Ryan’s World full-time to build the channel and brand even further!” said Loann Kaji, Ryan’s mom. “I think my teaching skills were a natural fit for the channel in creating kids’ educational and science content.”
Loann used to be a high school chemistry teacher, and Shion was a structural engineer. They think Ryan’s channel is so popular because of his positive attitude, and he makes kids feel welcome, as if they are on actual playdates with him. Ryan calls his fans his friends.
“Back in the day when YouTube was fresh and new, we didn’t have the camera technology and equipment we have today,” said Shion. “We think that our authenticity is what led us to having such a loyal following, and we are so lucky our amazing viewers enjoy our content for how it is and how we are growing as a family with the new adventures we share with them!”
Today, “Ryan’s World” has over 32 million subscribers, with 10 total YouTube channels. The videos, which average over a million views, offer a variety of content, including science experiments, skits, family challenges, cartoon animations and more.
“We have been spending much less time filming videos,” said Shion. “We have a production studio called Sunlight Entertainment, which allows us to help streamline the workflow around Ryan’s World and start minimizing Ryan’s on-camera participation.”
With Ryan-hosted videos that use animated characters, such as Gus the Gummy Gator and Combo Panda, his on-camera appearance isn’t required. This allows the family to create more stories that still reach kids and their families.
“Even as Ryan gets older, the universe that Sunlight Entertainment created will continue to provide our audience with the same type of content they love!” said Shion. “Right now, Ryan enjoys learning about space, science and coding. He also loves playing video games, and I love playing video games with him, too.”
While he has many interests, Shion shared that Ryan has thought about being a comedian when he grows up. With the way things are going, he certainly has time to decide. Ryan is at the top of the highest-paid YouTube stars list, and beyond that, he gets income from his consumer products line and the “Ryan’s Mystery Playdate” show on Nickelodeon. The earnings go to Ryan and the kids’ college and savings funds.
And when they’re not filming, the family likes to spend time together. On a typical day, they go on hikes or play at the beach. They moved to Hawaii last year to be in a place that allows them to get a lot of exercise and movement, as well as the opportunity to explore new places.
If you’re thinking about following in their footsteps, Shion has this advice to share: “Always stay true to who you are and put family first! That has been our family mantra throughout this entire YouTube journey. Most importantly, make sure you’re having fun.”
To keep up with Ryan and his family, click here.