TikTok continues to be a place where Latinx/e people share their culture, history, creativity, and joy. To kick off Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month, TikTok hosted an exciting Visionary Voices event in New York City — and BELatina was in the building!
What struck me most about the event upon arrival was the diversity in the room.
Latinx/e people are extremely diverse; the creators, small businesses, and talent in the room captured this diversity in many ways. From attendees like creators Agustina Panzoni aka @thealgorythm, to Kenneth Pabon @kennethpabon, to Chelsea Henriquez, @chelseaasoflate, a glimpse of our creative brilliance was present at this event.
The TikTok event showcased the subject matter each creator brings
TikTok Latinx Creatives Grant recipient Jorge Alvarez shares extremely important messages about emotional and mental health in the Latinx community. Andrea Ventura @andreaventurrr shares messages about modeling and hair, and Bryan Hernandez @bry.hm uses humor through his skits to teach about his Dominican-American culture.
Each of these creators brings their own unique take to content and TikTok.
While being blown away by the diversity upon diversity in the room I enjoyed a Venezuelan arepa from a small family-owned business, Vayalo Cocina which paired perfectly with the plant magic in the kombucha mocktails from Costarriqueña-owned small business, Anima Mundi.
In between snacking on delicious foods for local small Latinx/e businesses I had the opportunity to chat with Afro-Colombiana, Kayla Zapata Fory.
Creating for la cultura
Zapata Fory is the Latinx Creator Community Development Specialist at TikTok. In 2021, founded – and now manages – the #CasaTikTok creator community.
Casa TikTok is where creativity, cultura, and strategy meet for over 600 Latinx/e creators. For Zapata Fory, the past year has been a pleasure to help creators use and leverage TikTok to strategically plan and monetize their content and business goals.
“In the digital sector, TikTok is a great example of an opportunity for creators of color to carve out their own space and create their own table to be able to see themselves and their stories. Working on Casa TikTok has been great because it allows people we don’t typically think of when we hear “Latino” to share themselves and their creativity. We have Asian, Queer, and Afro-Latinos being themselves and building a community around that. That’s powerful.”
One of those creators is Chelsea Henriquez, a Queens-based creator who showcases her colorful personal style through her thrifting tips and hauls. Chelsea’s first thrifting memory is from a trip she took to Florida to visit her tía when she was a little girl.
Her tía took her to the local thrift store and Chelsea has been thrifting ever since. “Thrifting is connected to my culture as a Latina in many ways because thrifting is about being resourceful, looking for deals, and how to get the things you need for less in an effort to stretch your dollars.” When asked which Latinx/e celeb she would take thrifting if she had the chance she immediately said the queen Selena, “her style is so iconic.”
I went back to the small business vendors and grabbed a Colombian empanada from Love, Nelly followed by a treat from Panamanian-born pastry chef, Elisa Lyew, before listening to a rich discussion among some of the community’s greatest influences.
Words of wisdom we can learn from
The panelists shared secrets to creating content. What stood out was their agreement in creating around “being authentic and being yourself.” This advice to authentically be yourself is always worth hearing – especially during Latinx/e heritage month.