We ❤️ community

Ben tells all

Hi, everyone! We’ve got a special Smoothletter for you today. Most weeks, you’re stuck with my verbose rambling and pop culture references arguably verging on too niche. But this week? You’re in for a treat. I’m handing the reins over to Ben Smith, our creator partnerships lead here at Smooth, to tell you about a really wonderful recent experience. Ben, take it away!

—Kinsey, cofounder & head of editorial at Smooth Media

The Impact of Creators Finding Community

From left to right: Emily, Joyce, Vincent, me, and Lily!

Ben here! 👋 Last weekend, I hopped on the mic to serve as the host of the Asian Creative Festival (ACF) here in NYC. It was a real honor to join other Asian creatives, and I walked away with some big ideas I’m sharing today.

  • Quick context: Now in its second year, the ACF ​​is a two-day festival celebrating AAPI creativity and culture. This year, it brought people together through speaker sessions, film screenings, a hackathon, a vendor market, and an after party... 

  • I put together a program called “Trusting Your Voice,” which featured some really talented creators in a series of speaker sessions plus a panel discussion.

So why trusting my voice? Well…this has always been a big part of my life and creator journey—when I’m not finding awesome new creators to join the Smooth roster, I’m a part-time creator (here!). I try to make the videos I wish I had seen growing up, so my personal experience as an adoptee and an Asian creator have always guided my creative pursuits.

The biggest takeaway: There’s no one way to become a creative who trusts their voice. After I shared more about my journey, we heard from Smooth knowledge creator Emily Pitcher (aka @SonderingEmily) about her experience as a gaming developer in a male-dominated field, personal finance creator Vincent Chan about resilience, domino artist Lily Hevesh about turning a hobby into a business, and TikToker Joyce Hasa about sharing her deeply personal stories with the internet.

What do these stories have in common? At first glance…not a whole lot. These AAPI creatives come from various walks of life, making all different kinds of content. But there was one common thread that brought us all together: We’re all learning to trust our intuition, knowing it can help us to pave a bold, creative path…even if we’d never seen someone take that path before us.

Many of us in the room at ACF had felt like outliers at various points throughout our lives. But this event was an intentional opportunity to build community with like-minded creatives.

I’m encouraged by the power of creative communities to bring people together—creating is really cool, and it’s so great that we have these platforms to represent different voices! So many of the people I spoke to at ACF said they looked to YouTube for inspiration, support, and representation growing up. Creators really can be a powerful force for good.

And if the momentum from just the second-ever ACF was any indication, I’m hopeful that the next generation of Asian creatives is going to have many more people to turn to as they find their own voices.

  • Ready for this? Fan culture creator Jenny Nicholson just released a four-hour video called The Spectacular Failure of the Star Wars Hotel. Four hours!

  • Joss Fong and Adam Cole started a new channel called Howtown, continuing to maintain a strong track record for ex-Vox journalists going independent.

  • The Try Guys launched a streaming service called 2nd Try.

Thanks for reading! Kinsey again, and I’ll leave you with this to head into the weekend: Nelly Furtado’s Tiny Desk Concert. Give me that on the aux and a hot dog on the grill and boom, you’ve got the best weekend ever on tap.

See you next time!