Pop culture would be a very different place without YouTube these days. Justin Bieber, Rebecca Black, Darren Criss — all people whose rise to fame started with a video going viral. 16-year-old Keenan Cahill‘s story is even weirder. He doesn’t sing, he simply records himself lip-syncing along with some of our favorite pop songs in a very, er, animated manner.
Cahill suffers from Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome, which restricts movement and causes a dwarf-like appearance, among other symptoms like pain, nerve damage, and heart problems. “I’ve had surgery on my hips, my hands, my knees,” he tells the AP. “I’ve had mouth surgery, pulling down teeth, brain stem surgery, I had a bone marrow transplant.”
We’ve all passed around the videos of Cahill happily mouthing the words to “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry or Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” “When I’m in front of the webcam I feel like that’s my place,” he says. “I feel like I belong on the screen. Singing and acting and music is where I feel like I need to be.”
He’s performed with “Jersey Shore’s” Pauly D, Jacob Latimore, Nick Cannon, and more, but he wouldn’t consider any of them role models. “I don’t have a role model. I don’t know why. I don’t see them as role models, I see them as friends, people who will stick with you.”
Keenan isn’t putting all of his eggs in the YouTube lip-sync basket, though. “I’m still going to go to college,” he says. “I want to go into the entertainment business, and like music, acting, film, stuff like that. I feel like that’s my true calling. My mom’s always like ‘Look at something else, too,’ but I always go back to entertainment. I can’t be pulled away from that.”