May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — a month-long celebration of the contributions and accomplishments of both AAPI groups and individuals. It's also an opportunity to reflect on the challenges these groups and individuals face and bring awareness to the ways in which the playing field is still far from even.
Talented AAPI creators often don't get the same exposure, following, or recognition as their white counterparts. In fact, of the top 50 global influencers across social media platforms, only four are Asian. A lot of this has to do with the way U.S. media portrays whiteness as the standard and everything else as "other."
This lack of representation is a big reason behind why many AAPI creators start making content in the first place. That was certainly true for Nabela Noor, a Bangladeshi American influencer.
"I started making videos because I didn't see girls like me on television or in movies or in ads and magazines. So I wanted to create what I wished I could see growing up," Noor said in an interview with INSIDER. "I also really, really, really want to elevate the voices of people in the communities that I belong in."
In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, we're highlighting these Asian American and Pacific Islander content creators.
Although their niches vary from gaming to fashion to cooking and everything in between, these creators are all making great content and building awesome communities online.
Let's check them out!
1. Yoshi Yoshitani (no pronouns)
Yoshi Yoshitani is a multiracial artist and illustrator, known for the popular Tarot of the Divine tarot deck. Yoshitani's work is instantly recognizable for its unique stylization and bold use of color and shape language.
Yoshitani shares inspirational and educational illustration content on social, particularly Instagram and TikTok. This recurring color palette trio series is a great example of the type of content typical of Yoshitani's channel:
@yoshiyoshitani Reply to @strawbirri Rules are meant to be broken, but training wheels are helpful to growth! #colortheoryart #artisttipsandtricks #colorhelp #palettetrio #zipfslaw #seehearspeaknoevil ♬ LoFi(860862) - skollbeats
In addition to art content, Yoshitani talks about multicultural and LGBTQ issues and shares the occasional tarot reading — using the Tarot of the Divine, of course.
2. David Suh (he/him)
Davis Suh is a Korean American photographer and posing coach. He's best known for his "How to Be Photogenic" TikTok content, teaching you how to pose for photographs.
His goal, in both his real life career as a photographer and his social media content, is to make people more comfortable in their bodies and give them the skills to love how they look in photos.
you deserve to see how beautiful you are 🥰♬ Love You Still (abcdefu romantic version) (v1) - Tyler Shaw
As a result, he's built an engaged, positive community — and we all know how to take better pictures now.
3. Nabela Noor (she/her)
Nabela Noor is a Bangladeshi American lifestyle and design YouTuber and entrepreneur. With a presence on just about every social platform, a host of labels under her digital media company Love & Noor, and a brand new baby at home, Noor's got a lot on her plate.
That doesn't stop her from continuing to create content centered around her mission of "promoting self-love through self-care." Whether you're in need of decor inspo or just a reminder to choose confidence today, Noor's got you covered.
4. Jon Kung (they/he)
If you're looking for mouth-watering recipes taught in a visually stunning but easy to follow cooking videos, check out Jon Kung on TikTok and YouTube. They're a Chinese American chef and while they do cook a lot of Chinese food, that's not the only cuisine you'll see on their channel.
Like many of the creators on this list, Jon Kung explores what it means to be "third culture" — between the culture of his heritage and the culture of the country he lives in. And food is the medium they use to explore this identity.
5. Rae Hofstetter, aka Valkyrae (she/her)
Rae, better known by her stream name, Valkyrae, is a Filipino American streamer. Specifically, she's YouTube's most watched female streamer — and has been since 2020.
Her account blew up in 2020 courtesy of that early pandemic popular gem, Among Us. Since then, Valkyrae has been named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list and joined gaming apparel brand 100 Thieves as co-owner.
These days, Valkyrae still plays Among Us on occasion, but she also does regular vlog style content and streams other popular games as well, like Elden Ring and Valorant.
6. Kevin Wilson (he/him)
Better known as the CEO of Chai on TikTok, Kevin Wilson is a Sri Lankan American influencer. Not only does Wilson have the tea about tea (his recipe reviews are hilarious and informative), he also talks about issues of cross cultural exchange and immigration from his own perspective as a first-generation immigrant to the U.S.
Wilson is also a pastor and uses his platform to talk about his faith and how it intersects with his identity as a Sri Lankan American. It's a different kind of tea than the chai everyone knows him for, but it's still piping hot.
@crossculturechristian #stitch with @shawnbhatia #desi #desichristian #srilankan ♬ original sound - Kevin Wilson
7. Christine Tran Ferguson (she/her)
Christine Tran Ferguson is a Vietnamese and Chinese American travel, fashion, and lifestyle Instagrammer. She's also the author of the blog Tour de Lust. Tran Ferguson is based in NYC, but her travels have taken her all over the world.
While her IG is the definition of the aspirational travel aesthetic, she has a specific audience in mind with her inspirational content. When asked about the lack of Asian representation, specifically in the travel space, Tran Ferguson said, "I feel proud to be able to represent the Asian community within the travel industry and help others like me that it’s possible to have a voice. Studies have shown over 50% of Asian Americans over the age of 18 travel internationally at least once a year."
Through her blog and Instagram, Tran Ferguson is helping to disrupt the image of the thin, blonde travel blogger, all while delivering swoon-worthy travel shots and 5-star foodie recommendations.
8. Stephanie Buttermore (she/her)
Stephanie Buttermore is a Thai American fitness Instagrammer and YouTuber. As a scientist with multiple degrees, including a PhD in Biomedical Sciences, Buttermore approaches training and nutrition with a scientific lens to teach her followers how to see through the misconceptions of fad diets and training routines.
She also shares a lot about body positivity (or her preferred goal: "body neutrality") and mental health on her channels. Her page is a place where everyone is welcome, no matter where they are on their fitness or self-love journey. It's also a place where you can get a killer workout routine, so win-win.
9. Owin Pierson (he/him)
Owin Pierson is a biracial Japanese American influencer who uses his platform to talk about mental health, LGBTQ matters, and advocacy for the AAPI community. Originally, Pierson got started on Instagram as a photographer which he loves as a storytelling medium.
Now Pierson focuses on creating a safe space where his followers can feel seen and heard. As a lifestyle and advocacy influencer, sometimes that means creating content around his most recent trip. But more often, Pierson is sharing hard-won wisdom from his own life and inspiring others to live as their authentic selves.
10. Priya Krishna (she/her)
Priya Krishna is an Indian American author, content creator, and food reporter for the New York Times. As a chef and a food reporter, Krishna shares a lot of food on her Instagram, although it's more foodspiration than recipe focused.
If that leaves you feeling a little hungry, fortunately she has two cookbooks out, Indian-ish and Cooking at Home, so you can get those recipes and make the food yourself. In addition to scrolling drool-worthy food pics on her IG, you can also catch Krishna on the NYT Cooking Channel on YouTube.
11. Kennedy Bingham (she/her)
Kennedy Bingham is a Korean American bridal stylist and creative design consultant. Through her online brand, Gown Eyed Girl, she's created a space where she can showcase the diversity of the bridal industry for anyone who's ever felt like the traditional idea of "bridal" didn't work for them.
On TikTok, Bingham is known for putting together bridal looks based off of specific aesthetics, which can get pretty niche — like this one:
@gowneyedgirl Let’s pick flowers, bake bread and be together forever 💕 sponsored by @karozabridal #fyp #wedding #weddingdress #bridal #bride #cottagecore #engaged ♬ Simply The Best by Billianne - Billianne
She also uses her platform to share other fashion-related inspiration and advice as well as react to celebrity bridal looks and bridal fashion trends.
12. Melemaikalani Makalapua McAllister (she/her)
Melemaikalani Makalapua McAllister, who goes by Mele on most of her platforms, is a Native Hawaiian content creator and Hula dancer. While you'll find a mix of lifestyle content on her TikTok and Instagram, McAllister's main focus is educating viewers on the history and culture of her home.
McAllister uses her dancing and her voice to lift up issues that are important to her and her community. She also highlights other native voices that may not have as much reach on her channels.
13. Brian Park (he/him)
Brian Park is a Korean American comedian, actor, and podcaster. He occasionally shares clips of his standup on TikTok and Instagram, as well as original sketches written for social media. Park also co-hosts the podcast Feeling Asian with Youngmi Mayer.
Park and Mayer use their weekly podcast to unpack their feelings about the Asian-American experience. They also bring on guests to share their own experiences, many of whom are creators in their own right. Park, Mayer, and their guests often talk about what inspired them to get into the content creation business and what struggles they've faced along the way as Asian American creators.
14. Jessica Neistadt (she/her)
Jessica Neistadt is a Filipino American fashion and lifestyle creator on YouTube and Instagram. Her content ranges from style guides and packing lists to thrift shop hauls and "looking expensive on a budget."
The lifestyle, travel, and fashion spheres are still dominated by white influencers, so Neistadt's presence within these niches is already inspirational for her AAPI followers. Recently, though, Neistadt has been branching out into other forms of media. She starred as the female lead in Randal Kamradt's film "The Monsters Without," which premiered at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival in 2021.
When asked about her decision to be in the film, Neistadt said, "I suppose the idea of representing more Filipino culture in mainstream media [drew me to the film]." She also spoke about how doing the film helped when she was "internally struggling with questions like, 'Am I Filipino enough? Do I know enough about Filipino culture,'" feelings that many diaspora and third culture people face.
15. Kevin Espiritu (he/him)
Kevin Espiritu, or as you likely know him, the guy behind Epic Gardening, is a biracial Filipino American gardener and YouTuber. Espiritu started gardening in 2011 with a small hydroponic set up inside his apartment. Since then, he's expanded his knowledge and his garden to an incredible homestead — and has shared his journey online for all of us to learn from.
Espiritu's mission is to teach 10,000,000 people to grow their own food and with 1.7M subscribers on his YouTube channel at the time of writing, he's well on his way. The community that he's grown and the knowledge he's shared has helped elevate other creators, too. Fanny Liao, the Asian American urban gardener behind @fansinthegarden, cites Espiritu as one of her main inspirations for starting her own garden.
So, what are you waiting for? Hit that follow button and tune in to these AAPI content creators' channels this month and every month.