RB student an internet sensation

Video courtesy of Jill Lojas

Christina Antonyuk, Staff Reporter

Just this past weekend, one of Riverside Brookfield High School’s very own, senior Jalen Brooks, became an internet sensation. After his hilarious reactions to the live animals brought into his zoology class, one of his classmates, Jill Lojas, started filming him. As soon as these videos reached the internet, they were an instant hit!

Initially, Lojas posted the brief videos of Jalen reacting to the animals on her Snapchat story. Later on, she compiled them into one and put it on Twitter; that’s when people began to repost it, allowing the popularity to grow.

In the video, Jalen Brooks appears awestruck as herpetologist Jaime McInerney presents different animals to science teacher Dave Monti’s zoology class.

“Those animals were insane! They were really rare animals,” said Brooks. “At first, I was really just more intrigued, but after he started pulling out those giant lizards and that huge snake, I was like…wow!”

Brook’s reactions, although exaggerated, weren’t too different from everybody else’s in the class.

“I think everyone was pretty excited about it,” said Monti. “We go to the zoo all the time but you don’t get that close to the animals, and there were a lot of animals they got to touch.”

Jalen’s reactions were so comical, they were almost too good to be true, but they were, in fact, legitimate. Brook’s reactions were not for the sake of entertaining anyone.

“I was trying to take a video of the large duck… then I saw his face over the shoulder of the duck so I just zoomed in on his face and it kinda became a thing,” said Lojas. “Jalen’s very animated…He didn’t know I was filming so his reactions were genuine.”

After class, Lojas posted the video to her Twitter page.

“It was Friday night when Jalen and I realized it was starting to go viral,” said Lojas.

Despite the result, neither Jill nor Jalen anticipated anything of the sort to come out of a casual tweet.

“It was never planned to go viral,” said Lojas.

Within hours, more and more people started seeing the video.

“The next day I saw that it had, like, over a million views and that it made some huge Instagram and Facebook pages,” said Brooks.

It didn’t take long for their teacher to see that the video had flooded the internet either.

“I didn’t know it existed until Saturday morning…An alumni sent me a text saying, ‘Did you see this?’” said Monti. “And then I watched it and I was like ‘Oh my God! This is crazy!’ All day I was getting tons of messages…I got maybe 100 messages between that morning and early afternoon about that video.”

Because of the situation, both students have acquired a sort of fame. Many news companies and larger pages have reached out to Lojas in hopes that she’ll grant them permission to share the video of Brooks.

“A lot of news companies have been talking to us trying to get interviews. CNN just talked to Jill…and Good Morning America,” said Brooks. “I know that they’re airing our video on CNN and NBC and I think somebody from Ellen is coming in contact with people who wanted us on their show.”

Before news programs wanted the video, it was shared by more popular accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook that post other funny videos geared toward entertaining youth, like @Daquan on Instagram, which has 6 million followers, and @BestVines with 8.1 million followers. These two are just a couple of several of the big pages that have shared Lojas’s video of Brooks.

“When I go out in the public people have been stopping me and asking me for pictures,” said Brooks. “People from around the world have found my Instagram and Snapchat.”

Despite the instantaneous fame Jalen Brooks has to adapt to, he does not seem to mind at all.

“It’s really fun seeing all these people and it makes me happy other people are enjoying it,” said Brooks. “It’s unreal that really it…I have no words to describe it.”  

Just because Brooks is the face doesn’t mean Jill is not apart of the ordeal as well.

“He’s the face and I’m the name,” said Lojas. “Jalen and I have been like partners; he calls me his agent…anytime someone wants to put it up I have to check with him first, even though I know he’s gonna be like ‘Yeah! Do it!’”

Although the situation is relatively innocent and positive, there are always gonna be downsides. One major aspect of having something all over the internet is that people are free to give their input and share their opinions. Not many people have much to say besides the fact that it’s an entertaining video, but there will always be a few critics.

“The funny thing is,” said Monti. “there have been a lot of comments about the kids being on their phones and what’s funny is that I’m the strictest teacher on phones in the whole school. That’s the one day of the year I let them take pictures… because it’s such a great experience, so it’s ironic.”

“When you see these negative comments where people are like, ‘Haven’t they ever been to a zoo before?’ It’s like, really? When you go to a zoo, you don’t get a keeper talking to you personally one-on-one and to get that up close with an animal and hear some really great stories,” said Monti. “Hopefully nothing bad happens from it. They’re both great kids and I’ve always believed in 15 minutes of fame — soak it in and enjoy it”.

Besides the few negative factors of the situation, achieving such fame could pose some really great opportunities.

“That’s the thing, like, Damn Daniel, they were on Ellen; that’s our next big step. We really wanna get on Ellen,” said Lojas.