Defying the laws of physics and making goldfish appear from a dollar bill are just some of the amazing illusions Cal State Fullerton alumnus Paul Vu performs as a full-time magician and social media content creator.
With more than 1.4 million followers on his Facebook page and 35 million views on one of his videos, the 22-year-old has amassed a large following. However, founding such a large audience did not happen overnight
After graduating last semester, Vu was struck with the reality of how to make a living as a magician.
The influencer made an appearance on “The Next Great Magician,” and auditioned for shows like “America’s Got Talent” but soon realized that it made no significant impact on his career.
“Here I thought this one big moment, this one big TV performance, what every single magician says is their big break,” said Vu. “Once you make it on TV, you are next level.”
It didn’t help that there was another person who overshadowed Vu’s performance.
What did impact his career was a pitch from his family member.
“My brother said, ‘Paul you should start YouTube,'” Vu said. “I never thought I could do it. I realized the more I looked into it, I was like ‘Oh, I can make money doing something I love and I would be in charge of it.’ I wouldn’t have some producer, some executive telling me what I can or cannot do on my own content. I can be my own agent in 2017.”
Even though his first video only received about 200 views, it steered him toward a different platform: Facebook.
When Vu switched to Facebook, it shocked him because his videos went from a mere 200 views, to 10,000. Later producing a video that jumped Vu from 800 to 730,000 followers.
Although he was displaying glimpses of success, worries from his parents were still present.
“I told them in the middle of the school year, ‘Hey, I want to make videos, I can grow a following like this,’” Vu said. “They didn’t believe in me because my parents worry about me… Being a freelance video content creator isn’t the easiest job. A lot of people fail. They were doing what any parent would do by being protective of their child.”
Even though becoming a full-time magician and content creator was a challenge, it was Vu’s passion that fueled his fire. His love for entertaining others while providing an exhilarating and unique experience for viewers was enough to make Vu flourish in his career.
“Magicians, in a way, are selfless because once they learn a secret, once they become a magician, they are no longer able to experience magic the same way anymore,” said Vu. “You create this moment of magic, practice it for 10 or 20 hours trying to learn this one trick. You show it to someone and you give them the gift of that experience and you leave it with them. And you don’t do anything to hinder that experience.”
Joseph Zavala, a 22-year-old acting major who is Vu’s cameraman and longtime friend, believes that Vu is a man that “knows what his path is.” Zavala sees him as an inspiration for following his dream straight out of college, and thriving while doing so.
Vu’s passion can be seen in every trick and the reactions he gets from his audiences. He often finds himself laughing after receiving looks of disbelief when he realizes he just blew someone’s mind.
“Should people pursue what they love? Yes. Because it’s what you love,” Vu said. “The main thing that is holding people back is hesitation. People are always hesitating as to whether they should pursue their goals. Is it going to make them money? Is it going to work out in the long run? Is it a safe career choice? All those thoughts are never going to make you chase your dreams. They are just holding you back. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable to really get where you want to go.”