Twitter phenomenon, the 14-year-old version

Maude Apatow, Judd's girl, has 62,000 followers.

Posted: August 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES - "Some people say: 'Maude Apatow is my spirit animal.' I get that a lot," Maude Apatow said. "They tweet it to me."

Over a coconut milk smoothie at a trendy vegan restaurant in Los Angeles, Maude was describing the rather intense fascination she has inspired on Twitter, where she has more than 62,000 followers.

That may not compare to Lady Gaga's total, but considering she is a 14-year-old just out of braces, not a celebrity and not someone who has done anything outrageous on YouTube, it's an impressive fan base.

Of course, Maude is not a complete nobody. Her father is Judd Apatow, whose imprimatur is on wildly successful comedies including The 40-Year-Old Virgin .

And her mother is Leslie Mann, who has starred in several of her husband's films, most notably Funny People, in which she played the tempestuous ex-girlfriend of a comedian who finds out he has cancer. Maude was also in that film, along with her younger sister, Iris, playing the daughters of Mann's character .

But Maude has made her real mark online. She has been biggest on Twitter, where both her Larry David-like social observations ("It was really uncomfortable when I watched Beaches with my best friend and she didn't cry") and straightforward teen musings ("Are black bands on your braces gross?") have arguably made her a successor to slightly older Twitter stars such as Megan Amram (260,000 followers), a 2010 Harvard graduate who parlayed her Twitter zingers into a writing job on Parks and Recreation.

But Maude says she isn't thinking about a career. She said she is more worried about high school, which she is about to start.

She has a similar healthy queasiness about the outpouring of Internet love she receives in the form of hashtags, retweets, and entire Tumblr pages devoted to her. ("Maude Apatow speaks to my soul," a fan wrote.)

"It's just weird, because I don't know most people who tweet me, so it's kind of scary," said Maude, who quickly added, "But it's nice."

She traces her microfame to spring 2011, when she and her mother flew to London to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton marry.

"We were going to watch from the street, all the carriages, and I remember when I was on that trip, I got 1,000 followers, I was so excited," Maude said. "People were, like: 'Oh, my God! She's live-tweeting the royal wedding!' "

Apatow does not help her write these tweets, Maude said, but her parents sometimes correct her grammar and vet posts that she fears may offend someone.

Apatow does, however, frequently retweet his daughter's posts, and exchanges quips with her on the social media platform.

"Sometimes we fight over Twitter," he wrote in an e-mail from the family's recent vacation in Italy. "It could not be more unhealthy."

But it also gently hoisted Maude's profile. It was through Apatow's Twitter account that Sophia Rossi, a founder of the all-things-girly website HelloGiggles, discovered Maude.

"She would keep doing these bits where she was fighting with her sister, and it just killed me," Rossi said.

Rossi, a practically decrepit 30, said that when she and her HelloGiggles partners, Zooey Deschanel and the TV writer Molly McAleer, were getting their site up and running, she told Deschanel, "I'm obsessed with Maude."

After receiving permission from Apatow and Mann, Rossi commissioned Maude to write something, anything, for HelloGiggles. Maude turned in an essay in which she described herself as "the awkward, slightly OCD, preppy, motherly, nerd who knew barely anything about being a 'regular teen.' "

Maybe because instead of camp or afternoons at the mall last summer, Maude was filming. But what does her father think about her performance, so to speak, online?

"I think she has begun to find her voice," he wrote, "I just hope that ultimately what she writes is longer than 140 characters."

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