AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two local YouTubers are among 132 Black creators and artists from around the world chosen to spotlight their voices on the social media platform.

Evelyn Ngugi has been creating funny and insightful content on YouTube since 2008. Her channel “Evelyn From The Internets” focuses on digital storytelling and writing humor.

“I could be doing something as silly as taste testing sparkling water or I could be talking about over-policing of Black kids at schools, so it really runs the gambit,” Ngugi said. “I hope that when people visit my channel they see it’s OK to be thoughtful but it’s also OK to be silly and have fun.”

She strives to inspire and entertain her growing number of more than 245,000 subscribers.

Ngogi shared a message to other Black YouTube creators:

Coach Tiffany Rothe started on YouTube in 2010. In the beginning, she shared specialized, creative workouts, which have helped millions.

Today, her channel has evolved, featuring videos focused on building self-esteem and promoting body confidence through working out. She is less than 100,000 subscribers shy of hitting one million.

When the pandemic happened, she thought one thing: “people in the world need to feel good about themselves.” She went live every day with a “quarantine series” of workouts.

“By showing up every single day, not only did I re-establish a relationship with my YouTube fans, but there were people writing me saying, ‘You know what? I never thought I’d be able to work out every day but it came to the point it became my saving grace. I could feel connected with you and your smile and your energy. And I just feel like I want to keep it up.’

She considers those six months a gift.

“Just being actually an image for of fitness and beauty for people out there who might not feel seen and heard is worth it,” she said.

Rothe shared a message to other Black YouTube creators:

Reactions to receiving grants

Last month, each received grants from the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund.

Ngogi was excited to receive hers. She said it came at an unexpected time in her life and YouTube journey. She actually took time away from the platform to focus on enhancing her writing when she received the news.

“Didn’t know how I was gonna do it because YouTube is my job, and then I got the email the same week I had asked my manager to cancel all my sponsored contracts for 2021. I was like, ‘Cancel them, girl. I don’t know what we’re gonna do but I have to focus on this.”

It’s a twist of fate she considers perfect timing and a sign she’s on the right path.

Rothe is honored to be chosen as a representative of Black voices. She said the opportunity “opened her heart” and she hopes to represent a positive image while the country remains divided.

“It speaks volumes because what’s going on today, it’s very difficult for people to communicate, to feel seen, to feel heard, and just having positive examples of living life in excellence, and striving to be your best in spite of everything that’s going on right now, bridging gaps, creating connection is super important,” she said.

About the fund

The #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund is “a global, multi-year commitment to uplift and grow Black creators and artists on our platform,” the YouTube Creators page states. It’s also meant to produce new YouTube Original programs that focus on racial justice and the Black experience.

Rothe also wants to change how people perceive Black people.

“As a Black woman, for me, I don’t want to show up as a ‘Black woman,’ OK?” she said. “I am a woman who is African American, whose voice matters, and people see that and it changes not only their perspective, but it also changes how they identify with Black people, with fitness or just even a Black woman’s body in fitness is completely different — our curves are different, our shape is different.”

Overall, it’s an investment in Black creators and artists, like Evelyn and Tiffany. The resources they’ll receive will elevate their perspectives and also include:

  • Bespoke training
  • Dedicated partner support
  • Seed funding to help develop their channels
  • Workshops and networking programs

You can learn more about the fund on YouTube’s Official Blog. You can also learn more about the rest of the #YouTubeBlackVoices Creator Class of 2021.