A middle school student from Coronado is striking a chord and gaining a huge following on social media as she lip-syncs popular songs on an app, all while interpreting the lyrics in American Sign Language (ASL).
Skye Vanderlinden, 13, currently has 63,000 followers and counting on the social media app, “Musical.ly,” a platform popular with her peers that is used to create and share short music video, heavily focused on lip-syncing.
The teenager uses her hands – a lot – while making her own music videos on the app. For the last 18 months, she’s been consistently covering ASL versions of popular hits – trying to make a difference in the lives of other kids.
“I try to make them [the videos] every single day but sometimes I have way too much homework,” the teen told NBC 7 on Saturday. “But on the weekends, I’ll make six videos per weekend.”
Vanderlinden first began learning American Sign Language to communicate with a young friend who is deaf. Today, her ASL skills are still a work in progress, but a growing, hands-on part of who she is.
“I want to be an ASL interpreter, for sure. I love ASL – that’s what I want to do,” Vanderlinden explained.
The teen’s videos on Musical.ly are now getting attention worldwide. Her followers on the app grow by the hour.
She said the most difficult songs to sign are the faster, upbeat tunes, like Avril Lavigne's peppy hit, "Girlfriend," but she makes it happen.
And here’s where things get interesting. Apparently, with a huge following on the app, fans start to give you little icons, which represent real money.
“This is a ‘Dabriel’ – 5,000 gift points gives you $30,” said Vanderlinden.
As the gifts pile on, Vanderlinden has chosen to hand off what she’s making on the app to others.
“People would give me a few dollars and then I was like, ‘I don’t want to keep this money, so I’m going to donate all of it and when I said I’m donating all of it, a lot of people started sending me more money,” she said.
The teen’s parents, Debbie and Kim Vanderlinden, admit they still don’t completely grasp their daughter’s reach on the social media platform, but told NBC 7 they’re happy with their daughter’s decision to donate the money.
Recently, Vanderlinden delivered her first donation – a $560 check – to the Monarch School to help kids impacted by homelessness.
And, along with raising awareness about sign language, her videos also seem to help people in other ways.
“Some of the comments [on Skye’s vidoes] were very touching, [by] kids bullied or with social problems or something. For many of them, they said it almost changed their life. Why? I think she was just so positive and happy,” said Kim.
A real life passion - and an online niche - turning this teenager into an unlikely modern day philanthropist.