Bits n' Pieces: 'Sunshine Girl' vies for cover

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

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The star of the Vancouver-filmed YouTube hit "The Haunting of Sunshine Girl" finally has a name.

It isn't that Paige McKenzie, 19, didn't have a name before. But since she started the series at age 16, she's been hiding her identity and just calling herself "Sunshine" to discourage stalkers.

That changed in June after an unusual opportunity arose.

McKenzie advanced from a pool of 30,000 contestants to the final five in Seventeen Magazine's "Pretty Amazing" contest.

The winner will be on the cover of the October issue and get a $10,000 college scholarship.

But to win, McKenzie has to have a name.

"I would have liked to keep it a secret and stay Sunshine forever," McKenzie said. "But it came out with the Seventeen Magazine contest. So I've just accepted it."

Last year McKenzie, her real-life mother Mercedes Rose, who also plays that role in the YouTube series, and director Nick Hagen formed their own company called Coat Tale Productions. The trio has three series: "Sunshine," which has about 26 million views, "Zombie Ridge" and "The Screen Printers." The latter two launched this year.

McKenzie was also accepted at Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2012, but deferred last year because of her work schedule with the production company.

That's something that may only get busier, she said.

"I'm starting to make my channel more of a network, putting up more funny and haunted stuff from other people," McKenzie said. "And my best friend and her dad are going to do a series about Sasquatch for us."

She's guest starred on "Screen Printers" and is playing more of a producer role in "Zombie Ridge," she added.

"I love all of it, acting, producing, everything," McKenzie said. "I'd love to eventually be able to do that for a (TV) network."

Through her show and in the Seventeen Magazine contest, she's also found herself in the unexpected position of being a role model.

"I love it and I love my fans," McKenzie said. "I try to emphasize the positive aspects of being awesome and weird. I tell people they can be 'adorkable.' The Internet can be so negative. I try to be positive and tell others to be positive."

As part of the contest, McKenzie flew to New York for a photo shoot from June 23-27. The results of the shoot make up about 50 percent of her score in the final round. Beyond that, 40 percent of her score will be on her general life story and 10 percent will be through voting at the magazine's website at http://www.seventeen.com/fun/articles/pretty-amazing-voting

"If I don't win? I'll cry like a baby," McKenzie said with a laugh. "No. I'll still be featured. But I'd love to win. Tell people to go vote for Paige M. — there's two Paiges, but that one's me."

Check out her YouTube channel.


Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.