Influential Creators

Honoring the scope of the social sphere, these content creators are building community, and winning the hearts and minds of their audiences via Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, and beyond.

Alexis Nikole Nelson
Alexis Nikole Nelson. Image: courtesy of Alexis Nikole Nelson.
Alexis Nikole Nelson
Forager, Outdoor Educator and James Beard Award Recipient

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nelson started making videos about edible plants that could be grown in urban settings to minimize trips to the grocery store during the quarantine and educating her audience about African American and Indigenous food and foraging traditions. From the start, Nelson’s first foraging post, a 38-second video where she featured violet flower syrup, was a hit. Today the foodie has 3.7 million followers on TikTok, where she is known as “Black Forager.”

Danielle Young
Danielle Young. Image: courtesy of Danielle Young.
Danielle Young
Journalist, Host and Content Queen

The content queen offers funny and honest Instagram-story commentary and hilarious and assertive celebrity interviews that go viral on her wildly popular account, theDanielleYoung. As part of Meta’s inaugural We the Culture class, Young hosted its Metaverse Culture Series, a first-ever virtual reality event focused on creating an intersection between the future of technology and embracing culture and heritage for historically excluded communities.

Demarcus Shawn.
De'Marcus Shawn. Photo Courtesy of Collab.
De'Marcus Shawn
Influencer

While he may not have planned on becoming a comedian when he was a kid, Shawn’s childhood certainly prepared him for the popularity he’s gained as a TikTok influencer. The Chicago-bred content creator credits growing up with two older brothers as the spark that inspired his talent. He wanted to avoid only being “so-and-so’s little brother,” so he used comedy to establish his own presence in their social ecosystem. His skits—often presented as “POV”-style videos of situations most of us have found ourselves in—have helped him amass more than 7 million fans across his various platforms.

Druski
Druski. Photo Courtesy of Vital Versatility.
Druski
Internet Personality and Comedian

Since being featured in Drake’s video for “Laugh Now Cry Later” in 2020, Druski has amassed 4 million followers across Instagram and Twitter, making him one of the hottest sketch comedians around. On his semi-fictional label dubbed “Coulda Been Records,” Druski hosts Instagram Live sessions where he jokes with fans and celebs.

Elsa Majimbo
Elsa Majimbo. Image: Cedric Nzaka for Native Mag.
Elsa Majimbo
Comedian and Author

Majimbo, a Kenyan internet comedian, author and social media sensation gained recognition during the COVID-19 pandemic by making funny, home-based quarantine videos. Her hilarity and style led to collaborations with Fenty and MAC and notable honors, including a People’s Choice Award and being named to Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 list. In 2021, Majimbo landed a deal with Valentino and partnered with the Italian fashion house to publish The Alphabet for Kids & ADULTS, which has since been turned into an animated NFT collection.

Jackie Aina
Jackie Aina. Photo by Brandon Lundby.
Jackie Aina
Content Creator, Beauty Maven, and Founder of FORVR Mood

With a thriving fanbase of over 7.3 million across her social platforms—including 3.5 million YouTube subscribers—Aina is a beauty content creator, challenging outdated notions of beauty one YouTube video at a time. Frustrated with the lack of makeup ranges for darker skin tones, the Nigerian American launched her channel a year after she joined the military and uses her platform to create a fresh space for Black women content creators while advocating for the visibility of people of color in the cosmetic industry. Aina has partnered with Anastasia Beverly Hills, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Too Faced, Sigma Beauty and various other beauty brands on inclusive product collaborations. This year, she launched her own self-care lifestyle brand FORVR Mood featuring candles and accessories; and last year, she launched “Lavishly Jackie,” a self-care, home and luxury content vertical across Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

Kevin Fredericks
Kevin Fredericks. Image: Drea Nicole.
Kevin Fredericks
Actor, Comedian, Podcast Host, Content Creator and Author

Navigating 2020 as a comedian for whom touring and performing was not an option, Fredericks turned his growing digital popularity into a platform to benefit other buzzworthy comedians. The following year, “KevOnStage,” as he’s known to fans, brought that concept to live audiences with the Real Comedians of Social Media Tour. He has since established himself as an actor, director and author, and is also the head of KevOnStage Studios, a streaming network that he founded to both share his own content while giving a platform to the stars of tomorrow. In September, he released his debut book with wife, Melissa Fredericks, Marriage Be Hard: 12 Conversations to Keep You Laughing, Loving, and Learning with Your Partner.

Khaby Lame
Kaby Lame. Image: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.
Khaby Lame
Social Media Personality

With over 2.4 billion likes and 149.6 million followers to date, Lame is TikTok’s most-followed account. The 22-year-old Senegalese-born, Italian-based creator rose to prominence by leveraging TikTok’s duet feature to react to overly complicated “life hacks.” As he completed the task simply and in silence, his big eyes and disappointed frown became a universal stand-in for the audience’s exasperation. With his work becoming more elaborate, Lame was nominated as Breakthrough Social Star at the 2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards.

Saucy Santana
Saucy Santana. Photo by Blair Caldwell.
Saucy Santana
Rapper and Hitmaker

Launching his rapping career in February 2019, Santana released his debut single “Walk ‘Em Like A Dog” to great acclaim. He gained further prominence in 2021 when his singles “Material Girl,” “Walk,” and “Here We Go” spawned viral challenges on TikTok. In June 2022, he signed with RCA Records and released his major label debut single “Booty” featuring Latto. In August, the former makeup artist-turned-music artist teamed up with Madonna for the “Material Gwrollllll” remix.

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