In the past decade, digital media has taken over the entertainment industry, with internet and social media platforms being the forefront of new talent. YouTube has become one of the most profitable ventures for new media entertainment, producing creators who are now household names. The Salemite tracked down students who are content creators on YouTube to talk to them about their experience on the platform and to help them gain exposure among their peers as they undertake this exciting creative venture.
Rokia Tounkara (channel name RokiaRokiaRokia) began uploading content to YouTube in October 2017. Her vlogs highlight the day to day realities of college life, including club activities and antics with friends. Tounkara had this to say about her experience on YouTube: “Growing up, it was difficult finding people who look like me on television, therefore I gravitated towards YouTube where I found people who look like me and think like me,” Tounkara said. “I want to be a role model to a young black girl. Representation matters!”
Tashia Grant (channel name T.tashia) began her YouTube journey in November 2017. She makes reaction videos, storytimes, vlogs and prank videos. Grant says that the goal of her channel is to “entertain my viewers, and for me entertaining is making them laugh and allowing them to know that there are certain things or aspects in life that we can relate to, whether that is a preference in music or how we react to certain things or situations.” Grant also discussed the positive responses she has received about her channel. “I feel I have gained so much more love and support from not only my friends but also from people I have never met before… I appreciate all the support from everyone!”
Julia Herrera (channel name Jewels) creates reaction videos that are centered around the Korean pop music community. Reaction videos, depicting people’s reactions to events and other videos, have been a staple among YouTube content creators for years. Herrera described how this hobby has helped her gain important skills in her major. “As a Communication major, I definitely believe it has helped me gain the skills needed, such as video editing and being comfortable talking in front of a camera.” Her most popular reaction video has gained over 367 thousand views and was one of the top trending videos in South Korea. Another one of her videos was featured in a video made by the K-Pop group BTS. Herrera describes these achievements as “my most successful moments in life so far.”
YouTube has made a positive impact on the lives of these students, which was a common thread throughout all three interviews. Tounkara highlighted this impact, stating that she “gained a sense of passion as a content creator.”
“YouTube has allowed me to explore my creativity in such a fun way… I had the chance to connect with other YouTubers with similar ambitions and goals as me,” Tounkara said. “I would like to use my channel to show young girls that it is okay to be an African, a Muslim, and a woman. It is a life journey.”
For these students YouTube is not just a hobby, but a way to learn valuable skills, earn meaningful achievements, inspire others and bring positivity to the world.