A world in which Kevin from The Office, Jay from the Inbetweeners, and Karl Kennedy from Neighbours rule the roost may sound like the hazy figment of a beautiful imagination, but that's exactly what the Cameo app has made a reality.
Cameo saw its popularity explode during lockdown, as thousands of bored stars of film, TV, music and sport rushed to Cameo to showcase their talents, make a buck or two, and brighten fans' days in the process.
- Want to try it? Head to the Cameo website to search for celebs
Dunder Mifflin's slickest accountant has lined his accounts to the tune of more than $1 million purely from his Cameo appearances and, having seen him in action, it's little wonder why fans of The Office can't get enough.
But what is Cameo, how is it any different to Instagram, Twitter and any other social platform, and what can you use it for? Keep reading for all you need to know about Cameo.
What is the Cameo app?
Have you ever dreamed of getting a pep talk from your team's star player? Fantasized about your favorite movie star reenacting *that* iconic line, just for you? Or wanted to be serenaded by your 90s crush?
Cameo is a website and app that is specifically dedicated to making your most outlandish, niche and even your dullest celebrity-oriented daydreams come true - within reason of course.
The video-first platform literally allows you to pay famous stars (current and former) to either record a personalized video message, or chat one-to-one on a video call.
It's the latest evolution of social media, and what many of us rather over-ambitiously envisaged when Twitter and Instagram first emerged all those years ago; only now camera phones are good enough and data speeds fast and reliable enough to make that vision a reality.
As well as making you feel like you've got a direct and intimate line to your idols, it gives bored and out-of-work celebrities something to do.
How does the Cameo app work?
Performers as they may be, your favorite celebs won't be able to churn out a personalized video on the spot. You instead need to submit a request, which you can do on behalf of yourself, as a gift to somebody else, or for an entire company, by visiting their Cameo page.
They'll then have up to seven days to fulfil it, although many guarantee a 24-hour turnaround. They also have the option to decline requests.
The request process itself includes plenty of guidelines, but the trick is to be clear and concise. For instance, you won't need to set out that your request is for a birthday message, as there are dedicated special occasions toggles, which also include holiday, pep talk, and roast.
However, you may want to explain any potentially tricky name pronunciations, specify the tone of the message, and include precise details to make the video message or call as personal as possible. Or if you'd prefer them to freestyle, or to say or do something specific, say so in your request.
When your request has been fulfilled, you'll receive a link to your personalized video message, which you can download and share online.
What celebrities are on the Cameo app?
Hollywood royalty, sporting idols and global megastar musicians have flocked to the platform in their thousands.
Think you've got what it takes to withstand both barrels from Logan Roy himself? Brian Cox from Succession is a relative newcomer to Cameo, and will happily sling a few f-words your way, whatever the occasion.
Tony Hawk, Magic Johnson and Brett Favre are just some of the legendary sportspeople on the app, plus you could just get Bruce Buffer to shout "Iiiiiiit's TIIIIIIIIIIME!" over and over again, if you wanted to. Unless you'd rather "Get rrrrrrrready to RRRRRUMBLE!" instead, of course, in which case Michael's also available.
Gloria Estefan's rhythm really could get you, while you no longer need wonder how you might live without LeAnn Rimes. And let's not forget about the smooth, sultry tones of Kenny G, who'll pull out all the stops if the price is right.
And who else but Caitlyn Jenner heads up Cameo's superabundance of personalities from reality TV? RuPaul's Drag Race's Divina de Campo and NYC's realest housewife Sonja Morgan are also immensely popular on the app.
But Cameo's biggest draws aren't necessarily who you might expect them to be. Cult TV actors James Buckley (Jay from The Inbetweeners), Alan Fletcher (Karl Kennedy from Neighbours), and the undisputed king of Cameo, Brian Baumgartner (Kevin from the US version of The Office), are amongst the app's star attractions and despite getting perfect reviews pretty much across the board, they're also far cheaper than many others.
In fact, when USA Today published a list of the biggest TV stars on Cameo in 2020, there were certainly some surprising names on there:
- Ed Brown (90 Day franchise)
- Josh Sussman (Glee, Wizards of Waverly Place)
- Brian Baumgartner (The Office)
- Larry Thomas (Seinfeld)
- William Hung (American Idol)
- Fred Stoller (Handy Manny, Everybody Loves Raymond)
- Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
- Ray Abruzzo (The Sopranos, The Practice)
- Sandra Diaz Twine (Survivor)
- Lee Rosbach aka Captain Lee (Below Deck)
What does the Cameo app cost?
The Cameo app is free to download, but the rich and famous don't just give away their time and energy for nothing. They set their own fees, which vary wildly.
Video messages, either for yourself or another individual, are by far the most affordable service available on Cameo, with prices starting at $15 per message at the time of publication. The, ahem, celebrities around this price point tend to be niche comedians and lookalikes, although in most cases they have excellent reviews.
The $50 mark is where you'll start recognizing household names. As a general rule of thumb, the more you're willing to spend, the more famous the face - though you'll find a few exceptions along the way.
Some celebrities have a higher opinion of themselves than others (more on this below), and charge several hundred dollars, or even thousands per message.
Live video calls tend to be a little pricier than pre-recorded messages, but not outrageously so. However, they do have the potential to be much more awkward.
Commercial bookings are by far the most expensive. Several hundred dollars would be at the cheaper end of the scale, with these types of bookings regularly climbing into the thousands.
Who is the most expensive person on Cameo?
He long ago made the pursuit of money, money and more money the central pillar of his persona, so it's little surprise that Floyd "Money" Mayweather is one of the most expensive people on Cameo, a fact that he's very proud of.
The former champ's prices are set at $15,000, though he only accepts commercial bookings.
However, fellow boxing Hall of Famer Mike Tyson has thrown his hat into the ring by charging $20,000, also strictly for business requests.
The one-time "Baddest Man on the Planet" has rather mellowed out in his later years, and for that extra $5,000, is likely to deliver a few more pearls of wisdom than the abrasive Mayweather, a suspicion backed up by their ratings.
How do I get the Cameo app?
Signing up to Cameo is straightforward, and takes just a couple of minutes.
You can do so via the app, which is available to download for free on both on iOS and Android, or via the Cameo website.
We'd recommend signing up on the website if you can, since some celebrities' Cameo profiles aren't accessible on the app at all due to Apple taking a significant chunk of the money made from bookings through the iOS app.
You just need a few key details to sign up, including your name, email address and a password.
How do 1:1 live video calls work on Cameo?
For some, the chance to speak to their idols one-to-one on a video call is the most exciting thing about Cameo, although a significant number of the celebrities on the platform have opted out of live video calls (and those that do offer them charge a premium for the privilege).
There are no phone numbers involved. Rather, you can join your favorite celebrity's Cameo Fan Club on their profile. You'll then be notified when they plan to go live.
When you join, prepare to wait a short while as you likely won't be first in the queue, and bear in mind that many of the celebrities who do offer live calls on Cameo prefer to keep conversations sharp.
While you can't record live video calls, you will get a photo opportunity at the end.
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Aatif is a freelance copywriter and journalist based in the UK. He’s written about technology, science and politics for publications including Gizmodo, The Independent, Trusted Reviews and Newsweek, but focuses on streaming at Future, an arrangement that combines two of his greatest passions: sport and penny-pinching.