By Clarice Metzger, Life+Style Editor (@_itsClarice)
What began as a trending hashtag during a meeting with black YouTube creators and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki two years ago has since blossomed into the #YouTubeBlack Initiative, #YouTubeBlack Creators Summit and now #YouTubeBlack FanFest.
Since its inception, #YouTube FanFest—a live performance show featuring YouTube’s biggest stars—has taken place all over the globe with the exception of the United States. On Tuesday, Oct. 17, FanFest will make its stateside debut as #YouTubeBlack FanFest at Howard University during the school’s sesquicentennial Homecoming.
Kendra Desrosiers, Brand Marketing Manager of Creator Programs at YouTube and Howard alumnae, explains the reasoning behind the decision to launch at Howard.
“We’ve done it everywhere around the world with the exception of the United States, so it was only a matter of time that we brought it to the U.S. in a really cool and unique way,” said Desrosiers. “That’s why we wanted to invest here because it’s definitely an area that we’ve been exploring.”
The launch of Howard West in March 2017 marks the origination of the relationship between Google, YouTube’s parent company, and Howard University. The decision to bring the first #YouTubeBlack FanFest to Howard University is just the next step in the budding partnership.
“We really want to connect with fans and YouTube’s all about creating these different offerings to make sure creators have that fan connection,” continued Desrosiers. “It really just came together where we wanted to expand the amazing work we’re doing with FanFest as well as meet a need that has basically been brought to our attention by the black creators that they really want to connect with the HBCU community, particularly Howard.”
Within a day, tickets to the free event sold out at Cramton Box Office and the excitement continues to build.
“I am super excited for FanFest tomorrow,” said senior Victoria Jonas. “I can’t wait to see all of my favorite black YouTubers and to see their process and offer some tips and advice for me to start my own channel.”
#YouTubeBlack FanFest will feature 12 black YouTube creators—with a combined 16 million subscribers—including comedian Alonzo Lerone, sketch artist Miles Jai and comedian Tré Melvin to name a few, along with a performance by artist Daniel Caesar.
In addition to #YouTubeBlack FanFest, the #YouTubeBlack Creators Summit—an exclusive event for black YouTube creators—will take place Oct. 18-19. Students can expect to see some of their favorite black YouTubers sitting among the crowd at FanFest.
Desrosiers made it clear that #YouTubeBlack will be an ongoing initiative saying, “YouTubeBlack will definitely be an initiative we continue to invest in. We see so much value in making sure diverse creators, particularly black creators feel supported and YouTube is a great place for them to put their voice out there.”
#YouTubeBlack FanFest will be live streamed here.