Jessica Blevins Could Be the Next Dany Garcia – and That’s A Big Deal For Ninja

Opinion By Laurie Lockliear 

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has outgrown your computer screen. He’s written a book and a couple of graphic novels, collaborated with adidas, appeared on Time’s Most Influential People list, and shared some laughs on Fallon’s sofa. His move from Twitch to Mixer last year made international headlines and caused many gaming outsiders to balk at his eight-figure paycheck. His often frenetic, rise into our common lexicon was again front-page news when Mixer shut down last month. Several publications, influencers, and other streamers posited on his return to Twitch and offers from Facebook Gaming and YouTube. If you’re expecting him to jump at one of those deals, don’t hold your breath. 

Like it or not, professional gamers are the new athletes and the list of athletes who have made the transition into entertainment is long. Ed O’Neill, Carl Weathers, Terry Crews, and several others played in the NFL. Jason Lee was a professional skateboarder. Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger were bodybuilders. Esther Williams and Johnny Weissmuller made a splash in the Olympics and André René Roussimoff (Andre The Giant) and Dave Bautista wrestled. However, there is only one former athlete who has climbed to the highest rung of Hollywood success as a leading actor, producer, executive, and deal maker whose name is synonymous with box office gold. From Disney animation to David Leitch action scenes; Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s fanbase is ever expanding and it’s this level that Tyler Blevins and his wife, Jessica are eyeing. 

The offers for Ninja to go back to the top of the streaming mountain are abundant. But Blevins is in search of a much loftier goal. Ninja wants real star power beyond the world of online gaming. Beyond single channel contracts or niche audiences; beyond showing up live from his own house. He, like so many others, wants to transition from competitor to esteemed multi-hyphenate. He’s after Dwayne Johnson level stardom: the ability to move the needle and determine box office success by simply attaching his name to a project, an idea, an overlooked script, or a bankrupt sports league. 

Like all athletes, the clock is ticking. Ninja’s time in the spotlight as a gamer has an expiration date. No, it’s not as strict as a physical sport but the average audience on Twitch is 21 years old and Ninja, at 29, is one of the oldest elite streamers, and his ability to grow new, younger fans on streaming platforms is in question. A new medium to develop an audience and grow his brand is the right goal. 

He’s already become the first streamer to pass the “grocery store test” – a little check that defines the line separating the popular from the truly famous. It goes like this: If an “influencer” can go shopping at almost any random grocery store without being accosted by fans and paparazzi, they are popular – not famous. People may know their name and their face only in a specific context. Thanks to all the visibility he’s received in recent years, Ninja is actually famous – more famous among younger demographics and gamers – but, famous nonetheless. 

He’s not the only streamer chasing Hollywood success. Others have thrown their hats into the ring but possibly due to quarantine and more likely due to sketchy circumstances, the previously announced streamer projects haven’t gotten any real traction. I suspect the lack of magnanimity in their ranks is another reason no streamer has broken through. Ninja has had some fantastic media moments, (teaching Fallon the Pon Pon and his appearance on 

The Masked Singer) and some cringeworthy moments. Watching him attempt to slice bread or his 2018 declaration that he wouldn’t share his stream with female gamers as part of his commitment to his wife is a mixed bag of endearing and creepy and raised a lot of questions. Can he not keep his vows and still play games online with women? If this is true how will he be able to transition to life on a set? Yes, I know that since then he has played a few online games with women, notably Ewok and Ellen Degeneres. As others have noted, those events felt forced and more like he was trying to be nice for the cameras. This won’t work in Hollywood today. 

Ninja’s agency is and Brandon Freytag and his team are excellent at building brand deals. ow, it will be important for them to build the Hollywood connections that Tyler will need to transition to movie stardom. This could be a big hurdle. Hollywood is tough and no matter how cool you are in your world, film and television can be a hard nut to crack for outsiders. Money and popularity can only do so much, there are plenty of rock stars and Broadway actors whose agents couldn’t open studio doors. 


I know a lot of you are thinking “but can he act?” and to that I’ll just shrug. Because we don’t know yet. His scene in Jumanji was cut and I’m not sure how much screen time he still has in Free Guy but that might not matter. If the audience and media loves him and he grows his current fan base and becomes the affable, friendly, occasionally self-deprecating, slightly nerdy guy that relates to a wide audience and tries his damn best every time the camera is on – studios and audiences may even overlook crappy acting. 

There are a couple of reasons “The Rock” rose above all others to achieve the highest levels of Hollywood power. First: Dwayne Johnson is incredibly good hearted. His kindness and humor are genuine and he is honestly the only person in the industry that I’ve never heard one horrible story about. As a matter of fact, the only thing close to a complaint I’ve ever heard about him came from people who worked on the set of a reality show with him. They said he’s so nice to all of the fans in the audience and he takes so much time to greet everyone that he has to be dragged away to get back to filming and that can make for long days. 

To be like Dwayne, Ninja needs to do SNL. He needs to share some laughter at his own expense, let them roast him for being famous and a millionaire for playing games and show that he is funny and nice and happy to be in the room. This would also be good for SNL, whether he’s great or not, it will spark conversation and views. 

Second: Dwayne Johnson wasn’t alone in transforming his career from WWE villain to above the title super star. Dany Garcia, his former wife turned manager and production company partner, has been his business partner and adviser for decades. Dany has earned the respect of the entire entertainment industry as a smart and incredibly savvy industry leader who has taken calculated risks and pushed Dwayne to develop his star power. 

Ninja’s wife and manager, Jessica Blevins, is a successful streamer herself and she knows his strengths and weaknesses and sees the big picture. She also seems to understand the business and Ninja’s potential to stake his claim as a superstar. Jessica’s focus and natural business acumen means she has the potential to be the Dany Garcia of Ninja’s career and that is a good thing. To be the driving force behind the first gamer to full-fledged movie star transformation, she has to navigate the often treacherous path through production deals and fight for the right scripts and opportunities. Should they choose to make the move into production to have more control over their projects, that will most likely mean they invest 

their own money and personally assume some risk. It’s a scary but potentially highly lucrative plan. 

Quarantine has thrown Hollywood into a bit of a tailspin and to find the launch for her husband’s movie career maybe Jessica just needs to find the right production company and a script. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done even in the best circumstances with experienced teams. While it remains to be seen if Ninja and Jessica have the skills to achieve Hollywood power player status, we can be sure that many streamers and entertainment industry professionals are watching very closely. 

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