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#Digital Creators Relish in Not Being “the Only One in the Room” at TikTok Visionary Voices Black Hollywood Brunch

Hotel Bel-Air was bustling with some of the internet’s favorite content creators at the second annual TikTok Visionary Voices Black Hollywood Brunch in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon. The event marked the celebration of the social media platform’s 2024 Visionary Voices List, honoring 15 Black creators, small business owners and disruptors across industries. 

“I’m used to being one of one when I walk in the room, unfortunately, but in a room like today, I feel so much love because there’s so many of us,” Canadian pop star LU KALA (@igobylu), one of this year’s honorees, said during a panel moderated by TikTok’s #BlackTikTok community manager Alexzi Girma.

Girma co-hosted the brunch with TikTok’s global head of diversity and inclusion communications, Shavone Charles, who encouraged guests to stop by their first-ever experiential #ShopBlack installation, which included brands such as Topicals, Pat McGrath Labs, Ami Colé and FORVR Mood, as part of the platform’s ongoing commitment to elevating Black creativity.

During the panel discussion, LU KALA and fellow 2024 honorees Jordan Howlett (@jordan_the_stallion8) and Daven Gates (@onestopchop) each discussed how they found their voices on TikTok and what creating community has meant to them. 

“Growing up playing baseball, I was very much the only Black kid on the team for a lot of it, and you’ve got to teach yourself a lot if you don’t have a lot of people that look like you around you,” shared Howlett, who has a global reach of 23 million followers and is known for his humorous takes on life and recent viral interactions with Method Man and The Rock. “The hardest thing for me was that I just needed guidance. I needed someone to be able to tell me that I could do these things, that people like me had done these things.”

A former D1 athlete, Howlett explained that TikTok birthed new dreams for him when he leaned into the platform after his expectation of being drafted into Major League Baseball was derailed by the pandemic. “Making these videos, the most rewarding thing is hearing people say that my videos make them feel like we’re having a conversation and that they feel like they’re wanted in this space. That’s something that I wish I had from the age of 15 to 22.”

As a Black female pop star, LU KALA related to Howlett’s feeling of being an outsider. “I didn’t get to grow up and see people that look like me on the screen doing anything other than what people expect a lot of Black people to do,” she said during the panel. “I don’t think different is rewarded, not in the beginning. I think in the long haul of the game, it will be rewarded, but in the beginning, I feel like we’re all fighting to break down these barriers, so I feel like me winning means other girls, boys and people get to win alongside me.”

Gates’ motivation as a creator stems from being a father. His son, Cam, is often seen in his popular cooking videos. “It’s like taboo for a Black dad to be in the household so I try to represent fatherhood in a positive way so that he can see a positive image of me,” he shared. 

The importance of representation was a sentiment shared by other guests in attendance, including beauty influencer Jackie Aina (@jackieaina), who told The Hollywood Reporter, “I use my voice to uplift the Black community by stepping into rooms and not being the only person. Reaching up and bringing other people with me and advocating for people who otherwise might not be as confident in speaking up for themselves in some scenarios. I do that because there have been people who have done it for me.”

In addition to Howlett, Gates, and LU KALA, TikTok’s 2024 Visionary List includes the following individuals categorized into three areas:

Creators: Aliyah (@aliyahsinterlude), Taylor Lindsay-Noel (@accessbytay), Ms. Hassan (@misswondroussoul), Nyane (@nyane)

Industry disruptors: Victoria Monét (@victoriamonet), Coco Jones (@cocojones), Dr. Darien Sutton (@doctor.darien)

Small-owned businesses: De’arra Taylor and Tara Jones (@lorvaeeyewear), Trenton Williams (@pochigoods), Danielle Johnson (, Kymani Ashanti (@theskincarebakery), Olamide Olowe (@topicals)

Sunday’s brunch was one of multiple initiatives TikTok executed celebrating Black creators during Black History Month. As part of the platform’s Out of Phone: Cinema partnership with Screenvision Media, this year’s honorees were also showcased in theaters across the nation in Screenvision’s Front + Center movie preshow throughout the month of February. The efforts underscore hopes the creators in the room shared about the outlook of digital media and entertainment.

“I’m really excited for what the future of all of this looks like because if you look in the room right now, there’s so much Black excellence and Black creativity,” LU KALA said. “And I feel like in the future, there’s going to be so, so much more.”

Anaja Smith contributed to this report.

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