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From inspo to upload: 9 AAPI creators share motivation & traditions

Self expression, opportunity, community — there are so many reasons to start posting videos on YouTube. This Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (APAHM), we asked 9 creators to let us in on the story behind their channels, including their inspirations, motivations and traditions.

What inspires and/or motivates you to create?

Jen Chae / @frmheadtotoe: I grew up the child of Korean immigrant parents in the midwest which doesn't have a very large Korean Community. Every year I went to school, I was the only Asian person in my class. I've always been a really artistic kid, but I didn’t have the warmest relationship with makeup. There were no tutorials or any advice on how to make makeup look good on my face. Every magazine would say ‘put makeup in your crease’ and I was like ‘what crease?’ A lot of the reasons why I first started doing videos is the same as why I do it today to help people take ownership of feeling beautiful.

Fariyal BK / @WhatsCookingWithFariyal : During COVID-19, I challenged myself to create a YouTube channel for cooking and baking as I have a great passion for it. Through the lens of the camera, I've been able to share foods from my country, Pakistan, and beyond. My motto for this channel is that food is the ingredient that binds us together and truly believe that there is so much to explore during this month.

Tiffany Lee / @BeautyStyleList : It's been over a decade since I left my career and moved to California. I'm a licensed hair and makeup artist and during that time I wasn't working, I felt like my identity was lost. YouTube was that place where I could reinvent myself, where I could explore and play and just have fun.

What traditions were a part of your family growing up that you continue to celebrate or remember?

Hassan Khadir / @HassanKhadair: We grew up in Southern Alabama where Christmas is a really big deal, and my parents always made sure that when it was Eid, we showed out and had lights everywhere. The neighbors were like, “Why do you have lights that are green and blue in the middle of July?” It was an incredible memory.

Kelly Wakasa / @KellyWakasa : It's probably not as stereotypically Japanese, but every holiday, my family plays football during the day before we eat. That's just something I cherish a lot.

Benjamin De Almeida / @benoftheweek : My dad would cook samosas and then he'd lie about the spiciness level. I'm half white, so I would have tears just running down my face and then be like, “These are so good.”

What does APAHM month mean to you?

Ashley Alexander / @urmomashley: I think APAHM heritage month is so important. Being half Korean myself, I've really gotten the opportunity to explore my own culture through makeup through food and through fashion on YouTube.

Lily Hevesh / @Hevesh5: To me, this month means just celebrating who I am. I'm a Chinese American adoptee, so learning what it means to be Asian and about my own identity is still kind of new for me, but it's a month to really connect with friends and celebrate.

Amber Alexander / @amberalexander: When I think of my Korean side, I think of my grandparents who immigrated when my mom was only 12 years old. They had to bring over their young children and get accustomed to life in America. I guess when I think of being Korean, I think of sacrifice and doing everything you can for your family, because I've just seen what my family has done for me. I want to carry that on as well.