"We know the family. They are famous in our home," Steven Spielberg said after meeting the Butler family outside his premiere of The BFG. So who are the Butlers and why would Spielberg be raving about them?
The Butlers are an LDS YouTube-famous family with five kids, 4.5 million subscribers, and millions of dollars.
Featured in Forbes as one of the “most successful video entrepreneurs on YouTube,” Latter-day Saint Shay Carl Butler (known online as Shay Carl) became a YouTube partner in 2008. His first check from YouTube for ad revenue was only $367—but it inspired him to quit his day job and go at it full time. Within a year, his viewers had tripled as Butler uploaded a video of his family every single day.
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Today, Butler owns five YouTube channels, but his most popular is the "Shaytards," so named because of Shay Carl's love for unitards. And he uses that influence not only to entertain but also to inspire.
Throughout the various videos on his main YouTube channel, Butler records his family’s daily life, and that definitely includes Sundays. They talk openly about various aspects of being LDS such as scriptures, baby blessings, general conference, missionaries, and more. While most of these discussions are only in passing, they have often left many viewers wondering why the Butler family is so happy.
In a video Butler released detailing more about his family’s beliefs, Butler answered a question he is often asked: “Why are you so happy?” He shared how following the gospel of Jesus Christ grants him and his family true happiness. That faith-promoting video has over 500,000 views alone.
Four of the half million people who saw that video were Lois and Lewis Herbert of England and Mandy and Rick Vellinga of Holland. The Butlers were unknowingly laying the groundwork for missionaries, as both of those young couples were converted to the gospel after being inspired by the Butlers to search for a happier life.
Rick Vellinga explains how the Butlers changed his life: “In one video, Shay Carl said that we could be together forever! That hit me hard,” he says. “They have had a big influence on us. Not only on us but also on millions of other people. Without the Shaytards, we probably wouldn’t be LDS members.”
And now Steven Spielberg can be put on the list of people inspired by the Butlers.
During his meeting with Spielberg, Shay Carl Butler was told to pan down, which led him to start exclaiming with excitement: "Did I just get directed by Steven Spielberg!?"
It just goes to show that you never know whose life you’ll touch with your example—or with a YouTube video.