Staying true to yourself was the resounding message shared during the Power of #BlackTikTok panel discussion featuring two of the platform’s most popular Black content creators, James Henry (@jameshenry) and Ariana Taylor (@arri.arii).

The two joined moderator and #BlackTikTok Creator Community Manager Alexzi Girma on the Wealth & Power Stage at the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans, where they let the audience in on how they were able to not only find their voices on the platform, but also on how they continue to connect with their fanbases. As an aspiring actor, Henry was already comfortable being in front a camera before joining the platform, but he’s since found massive success thanks to his funny takes on everyday life, amassing 3.9 million followers and earning brand deals with Crocs, Doritos, Chipotle, and HP.

‘Do It Afraid. And If You Fail, Do It Again:’ Black TikTok Content Creators Offer Words Of Encouragement
2022 Essence Festival of Culture held in New Orleans, Louisiana – July 1 – 3, 2022

“When I first started, I think my main goal was to really find what my niche was and to make sure that my content really authentically spoke to myself because the last thing that I wanted todo was really blow up with anything that was something other than myself because then you’re forced to do that,” Henry shared with the audience. “So, that was my success: finding my me, finding my power, and finding what I was good at, which was comedy, making people laugh and finding funny moments.”

Taylor, who found her success online thanks to such viral dances as theTwenty X Homecoming Challenge, echoed Henry’s sentiments, adding that putting her own spin on top trends has kept her 2.4 million followers coming back for more. In fact, she invites her fans to make videos with her while adding their own flair to it.

‘Do It Afraid. And If You Fail, Do It Again:’ Black TikTok Content Creators Offer Words Of Encouragement
2022 Essence Festival of Culture held in New Orleans, Louisiana – July 1 – 3, 2022

“The energy speaks for itself. You have to let your creative light shine through. I want them [my fans] to look at my video and belike, ‘I want to do it my way.’ Be you. Find you and embrace it.It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve experienced,” she shared.

While both admit that the road they’ve chosen hasn’t always been easy, it was stepping out of their comfort zones that helped shaped them into the powerful Black content creators that they are today—advice that can be adapted to any challenge people may encounter.

“Something that I live by is doing something that scares you every day,” Henry offered up. “Do it afraid and succeed and if you fail, do it again.”

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