The 5 up-and-coming creators to watch in 2022

Written by admin

Over the past two years, more than 165 million creators have joined the global creator economy, ballooning the overall landscape to 303 million. It’s a packed house brimming with potential—so what does it take for a creator to break out from the rest? In considering the next generation of breakout creators, we looked at people we thought had a singular creative voice or have been using their platforms in more clever ways. These creators have already made some impact through their content and stand to blaze even more trails on their exponential rise.

Antonio Baldwin (aka Tony Talks)

You think you know where a skit from Antonio Baldwin is headed until the punch lines start hitting you in the most unexpected places. Baldwin, better known online as Tony Talks, has created his own cinematic universe of absurd characters that take everyday situations and interactions to bizarre heights. “Life is not as organized as people think it is,” Baldwin says. “So I like to bring light to the unorganized parts of it and throw people off-rail when you think you’re going one way.”

It’s the kind of comedy that forces you to pay attention, and it’s certainly caught the attention of hundreds of thousands already, as Baldwin’s audience has grown across Instagram (590,000 followers), TikTok (more than 865,000 followers), and YouTube (1.3 million subscribers ). Baldwin has been creating since the days of Vine (RIP Vine), as an aspiring actor who was frustrated with the hypercompetitive industry.

“I wanted to create a space that I felt comfortable in,” Baldwin says, “and a space where I can future provide other little Tony Talks opportunities.”

The actor started gaining traction in 2020 with his series of “clock out for me” skits, featuring a cutthroat boss in a platinum bob cut as blunt as her personality giving an indiscriminate ax to her employees. It may be easy to lump Baldwin in with the category of comedians who don wigs and impersonate female characters (which seems like a niche category, but trust us, it isn’t). Yet Baldwin’s comedic tone feels singular, which is a direct result of his primary creative mandate.

“I try my hardest to focus on what I’m doing because if I start thinking about other people, that’s when I start getting discouraged, depressed, [and] feeling like I need to compete with someone,” he says. “That’s the reason why I got into social media: to stop feeling the need to compete.”

Giovanna “Gigi” Gonzalez

In March 2021, Giovanna “Gigi” Gonzalez came across a TikTok on her For You page of a young white law student bragging about the advantages of having two lawyer parents. “I immediately thought about first-gen students, because I was a first-gen student,” says Gonzalez, whose parents are Mexican immigrants. “And not having that privilege or that access to people who can guide you through academia.” So Gonzalez stitched the creator with a response that wasn’t bashing her, but rather uplifting young adults like herself. “I put that out, never intending anything,” she says. “But just with the magic of TikTok, it reached the right people.”

Prior to that video, Gonzalez was just using TikTok for fun. But the overwhelming positive response, coupled with her degree in business economics and professional work in investment management, led her to quit her corporate job and embark on a new career providing money and career advice for first-gen communities through her social platforms. She now has almost 200,000 followers on TikTok and 14,400 on Instagram as @thefirstgenmentor, as well as more than 5,800 LinkedIn followers. “Part of how I show up in social media is I am jargon-free,” Gonzalez says. “I see it as a form of gatekeeping.”

Major financial institutions including Fidelity Investments, Credit Karma, and TurboTax have signed Gonzalez on to brand deals to reach her audience. Gonzalez has put all of her offerings on her own website, The First Gen Mentor, including virtual courses and booking speaking engagements at universities and employee resource groups. The platforms have taken notice of her success: Earlier this year, Gonzalez was selected as one of 10 recipients of TikTok’s Latinx Creatives Grant, each of whom received $50,000 to fund their dream project. Gonzalez is using her grant to write a book on first-gen financial literacy.

“When I started this a year and a half ago, this whole first-gen professional thing was not talked about. Now it is,” Gonzalez says. “So I’m loving that I see the change. I’m seeing more creators come into the space wanting to advocate for the first-gen community. I’m like, please come. I cannot do it all by myself.”

Trisha Sakhuja-Walia

While Trisha Sakhuja-Walia was in college, she was scrolling through Facebook and came across a page called “Brown Girl Magazine.” It was a digital media company founded in 2008 for and by South Asian womxn aimed at community building and empowerment.

“I was completely shocked. I was born in India. Came here at 5 years old, literally with three words of English under my belt and really struggled to assimilate and find my own,” Sakhuja-Walia says.

“Like most immigrant kids, I shed away from my identity,” she continues. “Not even shunned away, more so shunned away from my identity. I refused to tell people that I’m Indian because it was all about survival of the fittest. I just wanted to survive middle school.”

Sakhuja-Walia began freelancing for Brown Girl Magazine in college while also working full time at other media companies. But around 2018, the original owners of Brown Girl Magazine wanted to shut down what had really just been a side hustle for them. That’s when Sakhuja-Walia saw an opportunity. “I was like, wait, can I actually go full time with this and try to take it somewhere?” she says.

After six months of negotiation, she became CEO and Brown Girl’s first full-time employee. While Sakhuja-Walia has more than 12,300 Instagram followers, Brown Girl Magazine’s social presence consists of 61,000 Facebook followers and 165,000 Instagram followers for its main channel, plus another 11,000 for a number of related channels.
It’s a potent base to pursue her vision for the company, which centers on the three C’s of content, community, and commerce. Sakhuja-Walia is focused on authentic storytelling, featuring narratives that speak to the South Asian community through a cultural lens. That is best seen in the book she created, Untold: Defining Moments of the Uprooted, anthology. Brown Girl further coalesces its audience via events such as the Slashie Summit, a live gathering that units millennial creatives who juggle full-time jobs and a side hustle (like Sakhuja-Walia once did) to explore nontraditional career paths. Sakhuja-Walia also launched Brown Girl’s first apparel line, Ladki Power.

Marika Sila

Marika Sila has racked up quite a few titles over the years: stunt performer, hoop dancer, certified yoga teacher, actor (Ditched, Midnight Mass, Twilight Zone), and documentary filmmaker (What’s Next? On Canada’s RedPath to Reconciliation). No matter what she takes on, Sila, who is an Inuvialuk, has made it a priority to center Indigenous representation and spotlight issues within her community. Perhaps her most immediate means of impact has been as an influencer. “Everything I do is to help build a social presence so I can have a platform to speak about important issues and raise awareness about global climate change and Indigenous rights issues,” Sila says. “Being an influencer goes hand in hand with everything I do.”

With 178,000 Instagram followers and another 352,000 on TikTok (under the handle @thatwarriorprincess), Sila is using her growing reach to broaden perceptions of Indigenous people. (For example, on Indigenous People’s Day this year, she shared a petition to demand that the Canadian government guarantee clean drinking water for Indigenous communities.)

​​”Hopefully this is just the beginning of my career. For now all I can hope is that I can help inspire and educate those who follow me,” she says. “My goal is always to raise awareness in order to create a deeper understanding amongst our nation because I believe where there is understanding there is compassion, and racism dies in the face of compassion.”

Sila is also aiming to make deeper inroads in representation across entertainment with her own Indigenous talent agency and production company, RedPath Talent.

“The name RedPath Talent was inspired by the Indigenous phrase ‘Walking the red road,’ known as walking a path dedicated to sobriety, health, and wellness,” Sila says. “We are a talent agency that hosts events and youth camps across Canada. Our goal is to eventually be the go-to talent agency representing Indigenous talent across the world.”

Brittany Tomlinson (aka Brittany Broski)

In 2019, Brittany Tomlinson uploaded a TikTok of herself trying kombucha for the first time. Her expressions whiplashing from disgust to intrigue quickly became a viral meme. What could have been just 15 seconds of fame has snowballed into Tomlinson, aka Brittany Broski, becoming a full-time content creator. Tomlinson believes that her success came not only from being early on TikTok, where she now has 7.1 million followers, but also from posting the kind of content that “really resonated with people whose feeds at the time were oversaturated with filters and backdrops and perfectly curated content,” she says. “For a lot of people I was a breath of fresh air—a normal-looking girl in a normal job being herself.”

It may have been a breath of fresh air then, but creators eschewing perfection for quirkiness have been inching past authentic toward becoming opportunistic. For Tomlinson, the trap of false authenticity is one to be carefully avoided.

“Relatability has been commodified,” she says. “Now the fun lies in deciding what to do with my platform and audience since I’ve grown it.” Tomlinson, who also has 1.1 million Instagram followers, more than 611,000 Twitter followers, and almost 1.2 million YouTube subscribers, is building a chaotic library of failed tutorials and literal toilet humor (you may often find her posting from her porcelain throne). But these examples belie the depth of her talents and the interests that she has been leaning into gradually with her content, from putting her singing voice on display to sharing her knowledge of art history. But she’s ready to expand her reach even further with a plan that includes starting a production company, voice acting, writing thrillers, and eventually doing more television. (She’s guest-starred on everything from Netflix’s Is It Cake? to Trixie Mattel’s Trixie Motel.)

“It’s important to me to showcase how multifaceted I am as a person and as a woman, because the internet and society at large love to typecast and fit people into a box,” she says. “I can be funny, intelligent, earnest, artistic, and entertaining all at the same time—and all through different mediums.”

Spoken like a true creator on the rise.

About the author


Leave a Comment