Imagine being so excited to tell your friends about your passion — only to have them make fun of you, instantly crushing your dreams. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to 14-year-old Johnny Orlando back in 2012. You see, when he first told his friends that he started a YouTube channel in hopes of being a singer, their response was anything but supportive.

“I was 8 years old, and I was so excited to tell everybody about my channel,” Johnny confides to J-14 exclusively. “But when I told my friends, they laughed at me. They said I would never get past YouTube!” And that was the only the beginning.

RELATED: 10 Celebrities Reveal Their Bullying Horror Stories

Soon, his friends’ laughter and whispers turned into straight-up bullying. “My friends started being really mean to me — I didn’t really get it,” he admits to us exclusively. “These were people who I thought were really good friends and they were now not believing in me. I had to start distancing myself from them.” Not having his friends’ support and encouragement was hard, and Johnny soon realized that the social media world was not much nicer.

At first, the comments he got on his videos were nice. But not long after, reading the comment section made Johnny feel sick to his stomach. “I like to say that mean comments don’t affect me, but obviously, they do,” he confesses to J-14. “I remember all the bad things I’ve read.”

RELATED: Johnny Orlando Releases “Missing You”

Some days, the comments were enough to make Johnny want to delete his channel and quit altogether.

“There was definitely a few times where I almost quit,” he tells us. “I didn’t understand why people were so mean.”

Fortunately, Johnny turned to his dad during those dark days, whose advice really stuck with him. “My dad always told me the best form of revenge is success, so I worked really hard — and look at where I got,” he smiles to us. From then on, Johnny promised not to let anyone bring him down.

After four years of posting away, blocking out the haters, Johnny got his first big break. “Jacob Sartorius asked if I wanted to join Magcon,” he recalls to J-14. “Two weeks later, I was on a plane to do my first show. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Magcon!’”

From there, Johnny created a account. Within days, people started following him. “It really was crazy to see all the followers I gained,” he shares with J-14.

Today, Johnny has millions of supporters — and the last laugh when it comes to the bullies who tried to end his dream! So if you’re feeling discouraged by haters, Johnny has a message for you: “You always need to look for the positive,” he opens up. “Just focus on you — don’t listen to anything else.”

RELATED: 10 Celebrity Best Friends We Can’t Get Enough Of

Interview and story by Lindsey Smith. “Johnny Orlando’s rocky road to fame: ‘My friends told me I’d never make it!'” originally appeared in the March 2017 print issue of J-14.

Love J-14? Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for fun, exclusive videos with your favorite stars.