In an age where superficiality has oversaturated today’s media, creators such as Kera Ariyel are here to remind you that it’s okay to not have it all figured out, and that vulnerability can be a beautiful thing. Kera Ariyel is a content creator and founder of Shift, a management company made specifically for marginalized creators whose worth is not recognized as equally as their work. I had the pleasure of getting to know Ariyel and learn more about her spiritual journey, the process behind creating Shift, and why it’s important to be vulnerable online.
I enjoyed your Girl Chat videos that you have been uploading. I wanted to know what was the inspiration behind starting that series?
I’m definitely going through a transformative [period] in my life, so I wanted my content to show that, and I wanted to have healing conversations. I feel a lot of times, especially as girls, or just friends in general, you don’t have those intimate talks where you discuss things that don’t normally get said. We want to know the answers to these questions; we’re all feeling this way, but nobody wants to be the first to say it. I wanted to lay it out on the table, so I could talk about it on my channel and get different perspectives.
I know you started off making school-related videos, and as you mentioned, you are entering a transformative period in your life. When did you know that spirituality-based content was something that you wanted to create for your channel?
I started my YouTube channel when I was 17 and as most people do, you change and grow. That was not the person that I was anymore, but I was still creating content that didn’t feel authentic to me. It just got to a point where it was affecting my mental health. I was miserable, to put it in latter terms; I just did not like making that [type] of content anymore, but I did. It was a hard thing because I had to sit back and say, “Okay, do you want to risk your career to do what you love? Or do you want to continue going down this path, and you’re depressed and unfulfilled?” So I had to take a step back.
It’s not necessarily about the numbers. For me, it’s about coming and showing up as authentically as possible, and that happened around late 2019 when I took a huge break. In 2020, I was like, “You know what, this is who I am. If nobody likes it, that’s fine." I just couldn’t keep this façade going, especially when I know other people that are just like me and they want to see what I am creating. It was just a matter of choosing myself over the content.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned so far in your journey online and spiritually?
As far as social media, you have to be as authentic as possible because this industry is so draining. Learning to set those boundaries and creating that balance to make sure that you are showing up for yourself, but you are also showing up for your audience.
Spiritually, I would have to say the biggest lesson that I’m learning now is just going within as far as all the questions that I have about life and who I am, what I know, and the people around me. It’s not just looking towards those other people to answer those questions for you and [learning] how to trust yourself and your instincts. At the end of the day, it’s just making sure that you are happy; I think that we take life too seriously and that’s what my spiritual journey has taught me. It’s not that serious; just go with the flow and what feels right.
Are there any tips or advice that you would give to someone interested in learning more about spirituality?
Start questioning everything. It’s not necessarily about a certain path or thing that you should do, because everyone’s path is different. If you have a question in your mind, dive into it. Learn about the foods that you put into your body, learn about the things that you’re taught in school, and your inner self will slowly guide you to what you are looking to find.
Looking at the videos that you have made so far, is there one that you are most proud of?
Honestly, I would say no, because every video that I have put out, there are different intentions that go with those videos. I’m proud of all my videos that I have been creating thus far because I took the risk of transforming and shifting my content. The fact that I stepped out there and said, “It doesn’t matter, I’m going to do what I feel is right”; that makes me proud of everything that I put out because I get excited to make it. I think that’s the best part. When you’re excited to create content, it does not feel like a job [and] you’re able to just do what you want and do what feels right.
How did your management company, Shift, come about?
Shift is my baby. When I started my channel, I blew up. My first video got a million views [and] the second video got a million views, and it was a lot for me. I immediately got management, and I noticed a difference in the amount of money that I was getting, versus the amount that my peers were getting without management that were [also] Black or people of color; it was a stark difference.
It would make me so upset because we will work with the same brands and these brands would not pay these people what they were worth. I felt as creators of color, we would often get taken advantage of and I would go and negotiate my friends’ deals for them. I would go over contracts for them, and it just got to a point where I was like, this is a real problem in the industry. A lot of us are getting lowballed and not getting paid our worth. It’s not right, especially when it comes to your intellectual property and what you’re choosing to give brands. We don’t know the right terms or how to negotiate things.
I stepped in and started helping friends, and it got to a point where I was helping so many of my friends. People were coming to me all the time, like, “Hey, could you read this over for me? Do you think you can email this brand for me and get more money?” It just got to a point where I wanted to do it on a larger scale and help more people. That’s how it happened. I’m so grateful for my mentors because, without them, I wouldn’t have ever thought that I could do this. It’s been amazing, and very difficult to run a business of that extent, but every day I am learning. I’m excited to see where that goes.
Is there anything that you would want your viewers to know or understand about you?
I would just want them to know that I come to this platform 100% myself, and I will never do anything that doesn’t feel right to me. I consider my platform a safe space specifically for Black women and men to feel vulnerable, have those healing journeys and be able to say, “This is who I am.” I come to my channel every week vulnerable and ready to show my mistakes, faults, ups-and-downs, and that’s completely okay. Hopefully, they can take that in and use it in their life too.
Are there any last words that you want to share, anything you want to put out into the world?
I will talk about you. I find it commendable that you take the time to interview creators and put Black creators specifically in the spotlight. As you can tell, it’s hard for us, and a lot of times, we don’t get the credit we deserve, we don’t get to voice how we feel and our influence on these platforms. I think it’s really important that as Black women, we continue to uplift and celebrate each other. I’m glad we were able to do that together.
For anybody reading this, hopefully, you celebrate a Black woman or any peer of yours that you know. Just be able to grow together and find that happiness and celebrate each other’s success.
You can check out more of Kera Ariyel's content @keraariyel
Photos Courtesy of Kera Ariyel / Videos Courtesy of Kera Ariyel via YouTube
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Sydney Jackson is an editorial intern for BUST magazine and also writes for The Pop Topic and Consonancie. An aspiring author and content creator, Sydney is passionate about writing on various topics regarding culture, media, and all things women-focused. You can find her on all platforms @sydthecrybaby.