Missoula resident and YouTube star Hank Green will interview President Barack Obama on Thursday as part of a post-State of the Union address campaign to tout the White House’s strategies to a broad Internet audience.
Green will join other social media gurus Bethany Mota and GloZell Green for the question-and-answer session called “YouTube Asks Obama.” It will be live-streamed at 3 p.m. MST at youtube.com/whitehouse.
The White House selected the three candidates, each with different claims to YouTube fame, and they will ask the president questions sourced from social media.
Green, 34, lives in Missoula with his wife. He and his brother John Green, who wrote the novel “The Fault in Our Stars,” operate the YouTube channel Vlogbrothers, which has more than 2.4 million subscribers.
The Green brothers have a loyal fan base known as the “Nerdfighters,” and Hank Green has produced videos for NASA and the Discovery Channel as well. He’s also written for the New York Times, Scientific American and Mental Floss magazine.
He’s the co-creator of VidCon, the world’s largest online video convention, and is involved with other popular channels on YouTube like SciShow, Crash Course, Brain Scoop, Animal Wonders and Sexplanations. Green also makes music through his DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome) label, and he created the environmental technology blog EcoGeek.
John Green has already spoken with Obama on YouTube. In 2013, he asked the president to name his unborn child, but Obama politely declined, joking that he didn’t want to “traumatize” the kid if John and his wife Sarah picked another name.
Mota, 19, has 8.1 million YouTube subscribers. In her videos, she goes through do-it-yourself projects and showcases her own clothing line, Aeropostale.
GloZell Green, 52, is a Los Angeles-based comedian who often wears bright green lipstick. She has 3.3 million subscribers on YouTube, and she usually tapes herself doing something ridiculous, including hilarious impressions of Obama.
Hank Green, who describes himself as an “Internet guy” and has more than 534,000 followers on Twitter, has been live-tweeting his experience at the White House for the past couple of days.
On Wednesday, during the State of the Union address, Green tweeted: “Also, Obama was so relaxed and casual that I feel much less nervous about interviewing him. Mr. President? Boxers or Briefs?”
On Thursday, he posted: “Arrived in DC for rehearsals and a tour of the West Wing! Still freaking out, but keeping busy helps.”
A little while later, he posted: “Just had a fake interview with a fake president. Still very scary!”
Green also wrote on Twitter that the questions aren’t pre-screened, and that the event is being organized by Google, which bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006.
Green declined to be interviewed for this story, saying that news coverage before the event is being “pretty tightly controlled” by Google.
To watch a preview of the event, visit youtube.com/watch?v=awU8M3qVgZQ.