How Influencer Jessica Kim Found Her Voice

From beauty filters to gaming consoles

Jessica Kim is unlike any other streamer. She blends a new, Gen Z aesthetic with old-guard Millennial vulnerability. She is a content creator for the new age and her rapid ascent in the industry is one to watch. 

Jessica Kim
Jessica Kim

Initially, Kim found a place online via the beauty and fashion world at Instagram, with highly curated, stylized photographs. After a few years, she garnered nearly 130,000 followers, and her desire to connect to them would lead her to Twitch, where she now boasts over 80,000 followers, a number that keeps growing. 

“I didn’t start Twitch to play games or make money. A lot of people think of it as an income source, but I didn’t know anything about Twitch at all… It was a lot of fun, so I kept going,” she said in a phone interview with Lifewire. “I have streaming to thank for growing out of my shy phase, because I share my thoughts so much online, and it’s helping me get better at speaking. I think that has transferred over to my actual personal life outside of the internet.”

Quick Facts

Name: Jessica Kim

Age: 22-years-old

From: Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim primarily grew up in Canada between Toronto and Vancouver. 

Random delight: Her father worked for Samsung in the tech and communication sector, and stayed in South Korea as she, her mother, and her older sister moved to Canada to start a new life.

Key quote or motto to live by: “Never lose who you are, no matter what you do.” 

Beginnings of An Influencer

The budding influencer was not always as online-obsessed as she might seem now. Growing up, her family moved from South Korea to the suburbs of Toronto to the Markham-Thornhill area, where her mom’s strict upbringing kept her from enjoying the excesses of the 21st century like the internet. Instead, she found her refuge on television. While internet and video game access was highly regulated, she would spend hours watching TV shows: dreaming about a life like the kids she saw in her favorite Disney Channel originals.

“It was a lot easier to stream for longer hours playing a video game rather than sitting for three hours just chatting.”

The programs often portrayed gaming as a boys hobby, she said, but that just made her more interested. Daily trips to the library were her time to expand her horizons and delve into the world of video games. RuneScape was the game she would sneak away to play on the library computer, and it was there her infatuation with the digital world began.  

Her family relocated to Vancouver and the sense of community she became accustomed to in Markham-Thornhill was absent from the concrete jungles of the metro area. She recalls confining herself to self-imposed isolation amid the mounting pressure from her family to become a doctor. The workload and expectations caused her to fall into a depressive episode. The constructed world of the internet was her way out.

Jessica Kim laughing
Jessica Kim

“It got really difficult to keep up with everything…and maybe I felt like I wasn’t good enough? I’m a lazy perfectionist,” she said. “Because I was focused on doing my work, I became distant from my friends. It became easier to connect to people online than it did with people in person. My escape was going online. Instagram was an outlet for me to express myself and surprisingly a lot of people really liked what they saw, I guess.”

The Streaming Era

After a few successful live Instagram videos, some of her followers recommended she move to Twitch to get the full, unadulterated streaming experience. She agreed.

Her initial Twitch streams allowed Kim to connect with her Instagram followers, waxing poetic about life, hobbies, and fashion. After two months, she was selected to become a Twitch Partner. However, the road forward was unsteady, with a notable summer-long break due to family responsibilities in South Korea. Her return to streaming was met with a different, much smaller audience.

“My motivation to stream was at an all-time low,” she said. It was Apex Legends, a game she had picked up in her free time, that reignited her passion for streaming. “It built the viewership back and I felt more encouraged to stream through Apex. It changed my format because it was a lot easier to stream for longer hours playing a video game rather than sitting for three hours just chatting, which helps with people finding and following me. That was the start of my gaming career.”

This new era cemented her in the world of Twitch as a creator on the rise. Eventually, she moved on to a newer title, Valorant. Her streams draw anywhere from 700-1,000 concurrent viewers, as they watch her group of gaming buddies best the competitive tactical shooter.

Stepping Out of the Screen

Kim is currently a student in her final year of university studying user interface design. From Instagram to university and now Twitch, the elements of design and creativity have been a constant in her life. Through it all, she has nurtured her own voice, a voice she hopes will allow other young streamers, especially women, to find their niche in these male-dominated spaces where mistreatment remains a constant.

“I think as I grew as a streamer, I grew as a person. I was able to find out what I expect from my streaming and myself,” she said, detailing the common experience of women online. “I won’t take [mistreatment] from people. I won’t just stand or sit here and take it.”

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