Forbes’ Top Creators List of 2023 was released on Sept. 26, announcing the top 50 creators, streamers, vloggers, and “powerful social media personalities” of the year. The list is put together based on a combination of different things like estimated earnings, social media following, and engagement rates, with some of the biggest influencers of the era on the list, yet less than a quarter of the names were POC.
Of the 50 listed creators, a total of 15 of them were POC: Seven of the nominees were part of the AAPI community, five were Black men, and only — shockingly — Forbes only recognized two Black women.
2023 marks only the second annual release of the Creators List, so the concept is rather new. Still, the lack of minority representation has a lot of people scratching their heads. Not to mention, the two Black women recognized on this list were found at the very bottom of the list.
Monet McMichael holds the 47th spot with $4 million USD in earnings, 5 million followers, an entrepreneurship score of 1, and an overall 13% engagement rate. Additionally, Drea Okeke (a.k.a. Drea Knows Best) rounds out number 49, raking in $1 million USD in earnings, 7 million followers, an entrepreneurship score of 3, and a 1.15% engagement rate.
Of course, it is an honor that all who were recognized should be proud of, and Monet and Drea are more than deserving of the Top Creator title. However, the uneven nomination seems quite inaccurate given the high volume of big-name POC creators the younger generation follows. Names like Jackie Aina (a top lifestyle & luxury content creator) and De’arra Taylor (CEO and influencer with 3.8 million followers) seem unjustly excluded from this list.
Folks on TikTok have also had some thoughts on the list, primarily discussing two things: first, the fact that most people haven’t even heard of half of the people named, and second, the lack of POC representation.
Many creators are also calling for consumers to support Black women on social media, and engage with their content just as much as other creators.
The list is especially exclusionary, considering many of the current trends on social media are credited to Black women who create content on a variety of social platforms.
There are also additional nuances to the formation of this list: Forbes crunches data from popularity and reach, but also annual earnings. That being said, there needs to be a deeper conversation about the pay gaps of intersectional identities — because those of us who religiously follow influencers know that POC creators put out just as much quality content as anyone else.