Meet iAM_iKandi: Game Streamer Kandi Montgomery

Curating a new kind of gaming community

Kandi Montgomery, better known by her screen name, iAM_iKandi, is paving the way for Black female streamers across the major platforms.

With her casual style and culturally specific braggadocio, she is challenging what it means to be a successful streamer. A mother and wife, she doesn’t quite fit the standard (early 20s, single) image of what a video game streamer is supposed to be.

Kandi Montgomery
Kandi Montgomery

The 34-year-old Texas native hasn’t spent her life breaking a sweat in gaming lobbies, either. Instead, she’s your run-of-the-mill mother of twins who stumbled upon the hobby and found she had more than a knack for it.

“I knew absolutely nothing about streaming: Never seen one, nothing. I was just a working mom and wife," she shared during a phone interview with Lifewire. "Streaming was not planned at all. It just kind of happened. I always had this personality of talking [crap] and my gaming friends would tell me to go live. I was confused at first, but people kept coming in, and in four months I got partnered on Mixer."

Today, Kandi is one of the fastest-growing streamers on Twitch, and boasts partnerships with all major platforms, including Facebook and YouTube.

Quick Facts About Kandi Montgomery

  • Name: Kandi Montgomery
  • Age: 34
  • From: Kandi Montgomery is an army brat born and raised on Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Her mother is a retired registered nurse, while her now-deceased father was an Iraq War veteran. 
  • Random delight: Mother of three girls: two 12-year-old twins and a five-year-old. Enjoyed working customer service at a hotel chain, "so streaming came naturally."
  • Key quote or motto to live by: “My name Kandi, but ain’t [nothing] sweet.”

Carving a Niche

Originally one of the people who made the move to Microsoft’s now-defunct streaming platform, Mixer, Montgomery created a tight-knit gaming community of viewers and streamers based around her commitment to "the culture."

She wears her Blackness like a badge of honor and purposely designed her community to channel the untapped potential she saw in the mass of talented Black streamers. The community would eventually grow into a space for gamers of marginalized status like BIPOC and, to her surprise and delight, LGBTQ+ people.

She rose through the ranks to become one of the top female streamers on Mixer from 2018 through its closure during the summer of 2020. Her ingenuity allowed her to excel at the complicated, often volatile game that is streaming. 

"Streaming was not planned at all. It just kind of happened."

Between the large platforms, it became hard for other former Mixer streamers to re-define themselves as their communities scattered across Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube. But Kandi had her own plan.

"I always tell people don’t put all your eggs in one basket. When Mixer was open, I was already re-streaming to Twitch. So, when they announced their closure, I did one final stream and told people to meet me on Twitch, and I was able to quickly rebuild the community I created on Mixer."

Growing Through Representation

Montgomery is committed to capitalizing on social media clout to the benefit of her growing streaming empire. A social media savant of sorts, she has conquered the major streaming platforms, but sought additional growth for the iAM brand. She’s also turned her eyes to TikTok, a growing app among young people. 

She initially was introduced to it through her 12-year-old twins, Journey and Justice, who were naturally obsessed. It took a while, but she came to conquer TikTok as well, in a few short posts, garnering over 4 million views and 2 million likes on the platform in just three months.   

"After I went viral on TikTok, I went from 3,000 on Twitch to 20,000 followers in two weeks. Out of all [the] apps, TikTok was the one that really helped me launch. I never would have guessed," she said. 

She posts streaming clips to her 140,000 TikTok followers with the signature bravado-tinged gaming commentary for which she has become infamous. The virality of her posts eventually would inspire others to highlight their talents on TikTok, especially female gamers, who have created a thriving community of TikTok commentary. 

"I always tell people don’t put all your eggs in one basket."

Montgomery is characteristically optimistic, following a journey through streaming that has become a groundbreaking success. She has created a lane for other Black women streamers, who often were rendered invisible and voiceless in the greater gaming community. The next item on her agenda is to change the face of streaming through her example.

Growing Into the Future

Her TikTok comments often are littered with young kids expressing excitement and awe about seeing a Black female streamer. It's a brand-new sight for many, something almost unreal, she laments. The industry has seen a sea of white, male faces, with the occasional woman thrown in for good measure. She hopes to change the tide and show the world the power of the Black gaming community.

Her most immediate goal, though, is to take over YouTube. Earlier this month, she was welcomed into the partner program on the budding YouTube Gaming vertical. With this newly minted partnership with the tech giant, she’s hoping to make waves the same way she cultivated her community across other platforms. 

"But YouTube? That’s a different kind of grind," she added. Still, expanding her iAM Organization and her brand of unapologetic, unwavering acceptance for all the gaming rejects remains as important for her as it ever has been.

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