by Max Miller
According to Famous Birthdays, the most popular celebrity I share a birthday with is Josh Peck, former star of The Amanda Show and Drake and Josh. He’s ranked 303rd most popular celebrity overall on the site, but #2 among all profiled Joshes. That’s just one example of the kind of clickhole you can find yourself falling into on the site, which was founded three years ago by Philadelphia-born Evan Britton.
“We wanted to create a simple and entertaining place to learn about famous people,” Britton tells me over the phone from his current home base of Santa Monica, CA. “People are always surprised at how many famous people were born on their birthday. But if there’s, say, 700 big time celebrities, there’s a chance you should have at least two on your birthday. A lot of people are fascinated by that.”
That fascination draws over 6 million users to Famous Birthdays each month, where they can filter celebrities by their age, star sign, birthplace and more.
“Wikipedia’s a great way to learn about famous people, but it’s a lot of information. What we do is give a fantastic experience on the mobile device,” Britton says. “You can learn about famous people in an entertaining format and get the key highlights of why they’re famous and what they’ve done.”
Users can “boost” celebs they like, allowing Famous Birthdays to rank its database of actors, musicians, Internet stars, athletes and more by popularity, and adding an interactive social media aspect to the site’s appeal. (Justin Bieber, perhaps predictably, is ranked highest overall.)
“One challenge here is that a lot of our audience is younger. I’m 36, so I might be out of touch with that. But by using our user data, I’ve been surprised to see that Leonardo DiCaprio ranks lower than some YouTube star,” Britton says. “By letting users dictate popularity, it makes the experience so much more fun.”
Celebrities, especially online sensations or indie pop stars, can also benefit from the attention their fans give them on Famous Birthdays. Britton says famous folks will often Tweet shout-outs to the site when they see their fans giving them a boost and showing interest.
“A lot of times, people are excited to brag to their fans that they’re on our site,” Britton says. “We’re really targeting up-and-coming celebs, which are often YouTubers, Viners and up-and-coming musicians. And the good thing about them is that they’re very approachable.”
Although Britton founded the site after moving to California eight years ago, he says his Philly upbringing has been an important part of getting him to where he is now. He mentioned Will Smith and Kobe Bryant (who is the same age as him) as some of his favorite Philadelphia celebs. When he is able to make it back to Philly for a visit, Britton loves to revisit the city’s history, which he took for granted when he lived here, and to hit up areas like South Street or Rittenhouse Square, where he lived for a period after college.
“I definitely miss taking the subway down to see the Eagles or going to the ballpark to see the Phillies,” Britton says. “I was at the game when the Phillies won the World Series.”
So how does Britton’s own birthday of May 26 rate on Famous Birthdays? He mentioned John Wayne, Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Nicks and Brent Musburger among his personal highlights. Confirming his own assessment of being potentially “out of touch,” however, the #1 celeb he shares a birthday with is Niomi Smart, a 22-year old fashion and lifestyle vlogger on YouTube.
“I’d give my birthday maybe a B- in terms of the clout of celebrities on that day,” Britton says.