By Chantel Gillus
Brianya Chambliss grew up in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, where she had big dreams of becoming an entertainer.
As a child, she aspired to be in the spotlight, whether it was through music, dancing or both.
She also served as a role model to her younger sister, Destiny, encouraging her to stay focused in school and strive towards her goals.
Kelsey Boyd lives thirty minutes away in Enfield, North Carolina. She started out taking pictures in her snazzy outfits throughout middle and high school, and she created a YouTube channel called DKNZ with three of her closest friends in highschool.
Boyd was in her freshman year of college, when she was encouraged by a friend and fellow content creator to take content creation seriously. This led to her creating a solo YouTube channel, purchasing a camera and documenting her adventures.
Jordyn Middleton, who was born and raised in Washington, D.C., also had a passion for fashion along with a strong connection to poetry and spirituality.
She said she remembered going to a church conference when she was younger and being driven to content creation after being touched by the devotion of one of the women she met there.
“I remember the Holy Spirit coming over me,” she said. “And as soon as I got back to Washington, D.C., I remember I wanted to be a part of this and I wanted to share about God just as other people have and how he’s touched me and moved me in my life.”
Different approach, same passion
Boyd, Chambliss and Middleton are all up and coming content creators who have three different, yet slightly similar missions.
The trio are currently attending different universities. Boyd and Middleton go to UNC-Chapel Hill and Chambliss goes to North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.
Chambliss said she wanted to become an influencer so she can have an outlet to do the things she couldn’t or was too afraid to in person. She wants to use social media to connect with other people.
Boyd said she got into content creation because she loves fashion. She loves trying to find ways to make things look aesthetically pleasing.
She describes herself as a micro-influencer with a minimalistic aesthetic. She enjoys creating content for the fun of it, exhibiting her life, outgoing personality, and style in her own unique way.
“There is no one else at all like Kelsey,” she said. “So me being me, just me being my loving, goofy, just showing my personality, my bubbly, social self. I think that’s what I bring, along with being a resource to people.”
Outside of fashion and lifestyle content, Boyd and Middleton like to use their platform to exhibit what life is like for them as Black women at UNC-CH for current and future college students.
Boyd said there aren’t a lot of Black students at predominantly white institutions like UNC-CH, and there are even fewer Black students with an online presence like hers. So, she tries to use her platform to answer questions other Black students might have about going to school there.
Middleton said Black womanhood is very important to her. She said being the best version of herself she can be is critical to both herself and Black women and girls in general.
“I just try my very best to be intentional about the words that I say because I know that the little, young people that are coming behind me are looking at me, and I just want to make sure I’m making decisions that will be positive on them,” said Middleton.
Unlike Middleton, Chambliss often posts Q&A’s, vlogs, dances and original music. She said she likes to post things she comes up with because she likes the feeling of making her mark on the content she creates.
All of them said they try to come up with unique content and be their most authentic selves.
“I am a firm believer that if it’s meant for you, then it’ll be meant for you. If I continue to be myself, I’m not gonna do anything that is outside of my comfort zone just because it’s a trend. I am going to stay within my realm and do what’s comfortable for me,” Boyd said.
Being a light for others
The three of them said that, as content creators, there’s a gratification that comes with garnering love from your audience and being a beacon of light for others.
Boyd said she can see the impact she’s had on people through her interactions with people on campus. She said people would see her and tell her they watched her YouTube videos and encouraged her to keep making content.
“I definitely see the influence in that and it does make me feel good, and it makes me want to keep going because you never know who’s watching,” said Boyd.
However, they all said they were careful not to rely on validation from others.
Chambliss said it was important to acknowledge that people might not know what others are going through. So, she said she doesn’t care how others feel about her experiences. Only she knows what they have been like for her and how to express that in the content she creates.
For Middleton, being herself and making content that reflects that is a testament of what God wants her to be. She doesn’t want to get caught up in trying to be who other people want her to be. She just wants to be herself.
To them, the importance of being a content creator is all about reveling in your individuality and never letting up.
“Believe in yourself. Take time for yourself and say, ‘I can do this.’ Taking the time to sit back and really tell yourself if this is what you want, you’re gonna find a way to do it — no matter how long it takes,” said Chambliss.
Edited by Katie Lin and Guillermo Molero