Kendall Gray is your typical eastern Kentucky teenager. He likes to fish, hunt and do practically anything outdoors.
There is one difference, however. He broadcasts his outdoor adventures to more than 1 million YouTube subscribers and his videos have been viewed more than 153 million times.
“We went on vacation out west about four years ago and we bought him a GoPro,” said Brenda Gray, Kendall’s mother. “That’s when he started making videos.”
The recent graduate Knox Central High School in Knox County has amassed quite the following on YouTube in large part to his relatability and infectious personality, but this success wasn’t anticipated.
“I just started making videos because I was bored,” Kendall Gray said. “It’s not what I expected, but it’s good.”
Kendall Gray said the business classes he took at Knox Central played a pivotal role in getting him to where he is now. Not only does Gray run a successful channel, he also has a merchandise website where his fans can purchase items ranging from shirts to hats to binoculars.
Despite his large following on YouTube, Kendall Gray said he may want to try his hand at other media in the future.
“YouTube could possibly be a long-term career goal,” he said. “But I’d like to branch out from YouTube a little bit and get into entertainment.”
He said his best advice to Kentuckians that may be interested in YouTube or entertainment is to give it a try.
“Worst case scenario is nothing happens,” he said. “Best case scenario is a lot will happen. So go ahead and try it.”
Brenda Gray takes great pride in her son’s success and said the GoPro she bought for him four years ago has turned out to be a tremendous investment.
“He once told me ‘Mom, this is my job but the best thing about it, I’m having fun working’” she said.
One of the most impressive aspects to Kendall Gray’s YouTube success is that he also excelled in school while operating the channel.
“He graduated in the top 10% of his class,” said Brenda Gray. “His GPA was over 4.0 because he took several AP classes as well as college classes.”
Kendall Gray will be attending Union College this fall and is planning on majoring in business with a minor in media.
This story first appeared in Kentucky Teacher, a publication of the Kentucky Department of Education.
Read an earlier story about Kendall Gray at our sister publication KyForward.com