Mount Pleasant’s Austin Porter reaches for stardom – at age 16

How to become a pop star:

Obviously, you have to start with talent, preferably a lot of it and a variety of it.

Then start performing, writing and recording as much as possible; lend your support to good causes; connect with your fans on social media.

That is the path to stardom that 16-year-old Austin Porter of Mount Pleasant is taking, and it is paved with Tweets, YouTube views and Facebook likes. He’s got an army of fans – called “rePorters,” who connect with him online – and a budding career that keeps him busy.

“I’ve always liked singing and dancing,” Porter said. “I’ve been dancing since before I could speak.”

He’s never been shy about performing; he started in a first-grade talent show. His mother, Tina Porter, said Austin has always been a dancer and singer.

Since 2012, Austin has been writing and recording original songs, leading to the release of his first album, “#One Love.” His YouTube videos have hundreds of thousands of views, and his calendar is increasingly filled with performance dates from Charlotte to Chicago.

As Austin’s exposure and popularity grow, especially with young teenage girls, he’s beginning to be recognized in public. That’s mostly cool, he said; it’s annoying only if it takes attention away from someone else. For example, when the family went out to celebrate his brother’s birthday, Austin wanted the spotlight on the birthday boy, not himself.

Austin has been using his rising popularity to focus attention on difficult issues, especially bullying.

Tina Porter explained that Austin gets messages all the time from fans who are cutting or suicidal because of bullying. Because he was bullied himself, those messages hit close to home, and he’s attached himself to campaigns like Project You Are Loved.

Born out of tragedy at an Ohio high school – two students committed suicide on the same day – Project You Are Loved seeks to provide encouragement to victims of bullying.

The newest initiative is a movie, in which Austin will appear. Acting is “a lot of fun,” Austin said, and it’s another aspect of performing that he’s ready to embrace.

In fact, Austin seems ready to keep trying new things as an entertainer. His newest release will combine reggae and rap; he wants to add more dancers to his performances; and, he said, a friend recently encouraged him to try some standup comedy.

Austin said he hopes all his hard work, talent and social media savvy will add up to a long career as an entertainer. Already his performing and recording no longer allow him to attend high school, but he’s hoping for a bit of a break this summer from home school and work. He’d like to spend time with his brothers, play disc golf and relax.