The first thing you notice about @anubace is his smile. Yes, I know it’s impossible to see that someone is smiling when the interview is conducted entirely over the phone, but with him, you can. @anubace, or simply Michael Anthony, is a 22-year old rising influencer known for making TikToks where his primary goal is to make people smile. Michael is also gaining popularity on Instagram, where he also posts photos that express his sunny personality.
So tell me about your username, @anubace. You use it across multiple platforms. Does it mean something?
“Yeah, my username comes from mythology. I created it when I was 13. I liked the Egyptian god Anubis and the Egyptian god Horus. I combined the two to create something unique that was one word, that maybe other people wouldn’t have as their username.”
Can you tell me a little bit more about yourself?
“Oh sure, absolutely! So obviously, my name is Michael. I grew up in a small Chicago suburb. I was really into sports as a kid-I started wrestling when I was four-years-old, played baseball and football for nine or ten years, and studied jiu-jitsu and boxing in high school. I’m a quick learner, so I had a lot of free time to read, and I was always reading. I love anything sci-fi related, most types of fiction, and any dystopian books. I think those are so interesting! I enjoy any type of films and anime. On Netflix, Lucifer and Arrow are really good. I’m not a huge reality TV show guy, but I’ll watch it sometimes.”
So in your interview with Mark Kurian, you mentioned that one day you hope to work towards a full-time job in entertainment. What did you end up majoring in?
“I went to Augustana College, a small private college in Rock Island, Illinois. I originally wanted to go to law school and be a Guardian ad litem, which is when two parents get divorced and they have a kid who is a minor. Someone needs to represent the kid in court if those parents are not the best parents in the world. That’s something I’m really passionate about because I didn’t really like [my Guardian ad litem] as a kid, and it was something that I wanted to work towards [becoming a better one for others].What I did when I chose my major was I looked at all of the LSAT scores by major. Philosophy and Political Science were the two highest humanity majors, so that’s what I went with. I also love those subjects in general. I majored in Philosophy with a focus in Logic, and Political Science with a focus in Social Theory. I just love every aspect of those two areas.”
What exactly was your thought process behind the account when you created it during quarantine in March?
“Originally, as I stated and you touched upon, was that I wasn’t planning on pursuing social media to the extent I did. But one of the things I like to do to relieve stress is write poetry. I’m definitely not a poet, and I never really shared it with anyone except once with two of my best friends. And they told me it was really good! I didn’t believe them at first, but they assured me it was (personally I couldn’t tell). They told me I should share it with more people through TikTok.At that time, I didn’t really know what it was. But I went ahead and posted one of my poems on there, and there was just a ton of positive feedback. The video went semi-viral and I made a few friends. It was something people could relate to and realize that there are others going through the same emotions they are. Eventually, I started messing around on the app a bit more and a ton of Spider-Man videos were coming up on my For You Page. I lip-synced to a [Spider-Man] audio and I got a ton of comments saying “You look like Peter Parker.” Then someone asked (via Instagram) if they could send me a Spider-Man suit “if you make a TikTok as Peter Parker” and I was like, “You got it.” Eventually, I started making more videos cosplaying as Spider-Man, and people reacted positively. Between that and the poetry videos], I wanted to surround myself with that positivity and spread that positivity to others. So kinda a long story *laughs* but that was where my head was at in making my account.”
Why do you think so many people were (and still are) drawn to your account?
“[I think] the reason that people stay is for the warm, happy feeling they get. You know when you see someone in passing and they smile at you, (Sidenote: I have been informed this is mainly a Midwest thing) and you get that warm feeling? I think that’s kinda what I have to offer- just a small pocket of positivity and warmth on the app- even if it is only for 15 seconds.”
When you’re filming TikToks and just life in general, what would you consider your biggest motivation?
“My biggest motivation is definitely my little brothers. My goal is to be a positive motivation [to them]. My overall life goal is to always look out for them, and be a positive light.”
You also mentioned that one of your biggest passions besides entertainment and cosplay was ending the stigma against mental health. Can you tell me what got you interested in stopping the stigma?
“Absolutely. Personally, I struggle with a lot of things and I’ve gone to counselors and therapists all throughout my life. I had a bit of a rougher childhood than some others and with that comes with some things. Just to name a few, I have ADHD, OCD, PTSD, and am diagnosed with severe clinical depression and anxiety. So I struggle through my own things. Another big motivation is I lost my mom about a week before I entered college to a mental health struggle. I just never want to see someone go through what she did, and the way it impacted not only her but also those around her is honestly beyond heartbreaking.”
What have you done to personally end the stigma?
“The idea that I can be a little bit of positivity in someone’s life through videos on the Internet.”
What do you want people to know about mental health?
“I think mental health is just like physical health. Things like depression and anxiety are just chemical imbalances in the brain. [But] it doesn’t mean it’s bad or there’s anything wrong with the person- it’s the same as if they had a broken leg and needed a cast. The person is just experiencing an injury, but it’s mental instead of physical. And a lot of people are ashamed of saying they’re on medication, or scared to say “Hey, I need these things to feel more like me”, but that’s completely ok! I really, really, really care about promoting that message.”
What did you do at your college to promote ending the stigma?
“Throughout college, I was always talking to [the] administration about getting a better counseling system [for students, which they did.] I was always doing things on campus like creating events and bringing in speakers to spread the word that “it’s okay [to] not be okay!”
I think that that’s one of the things that people forget about on college campuses, especially competitive ones. At UCONN, there were two students who committed suicide last year. So I think it’s really important what you were doing. I feel like that would’ve made a difference on my campus, and hopefully, it did on yours.
“Yeah, it’s so unfortunate and heartbreaking. And what I think people don’t realize is how many resources are out there. A simple Google search can bring up the National Suicide Hotline (800-273-8255). Hopefully, if people start learning there are resources out there and get that help to people, maybe that hopeless feeling won’t be there as much.”
You always want to be kind and your content is aimed to bring joy and kindness, but people are not always going to be kind on the internet. What do you do when you: A) Receive negative comments or B) See people having negative exchanges in the comments?
“There’s a variety of ways I like to respond, none of which are mean at all. I don’t get a lot of negative comments [on my videos], but [when I do], one of the things I might say is like ‘Hey, you’re probably super handsome in real life.’ The reason is I think when people leave negative comments they’re looking for a negative reaction. If you [face] the negativity with positivity, they don’t really know how to respond to that. So if you leave it at [a positive comment], it shows them exactly what kind of person they’re dealing with.”
So I wanted to talk more about your cosplays. Obviously, Spider-Man is one of the most popular ones. But you didn’t have to keep cosplaying Peter Parker, so why did you?
“One, I had fun with the character, and two I felt like I identified with him a lot. He goes through his own personal struggles and is always trying to be a positive influence . He’s not a hateful person and everyone loves him, and that’s exactly what I love about him. That’s also why I will always continue [to cosplay as him].”
Wrapping up, one of the things that I love about you is that you’re very down to Earth. I know that there are many influencers out there on social media whose every post feels very staged. However, you’re not really like that and I admire that about you. Going forward though, do you think that will still be possible? Since you are gaining followers on all your platforms.
“I think so. *Laughs* I hope that I can continue to come across as genuine as possible. I’m just being your regular, average nerdy kid *laughs*, and I never [want] to claim to be anything but that. The idea that I could have an ego or a staged personality [is scary]. Never ever will I claim to have anything like that [nor want to].I’m just being me, and that’s one reason why I love doing this so much. People are following me because they like me as an individual, not because I’m putting out an image that’s not the real me. I would hate that!”
Lastly, what do you want people to take away from your content? Even if they do not follow your socials and just see one of your videos on their For You Page, what is your hope will happen?
“If people can just take away an ounce of positivity, I would love [it]. Even if it’s something as small as a smile, I love it. I want people to know that things are okay and there’s always a bright side, and that’s what matters.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, remember that help is out there. It can be hard, but you are not alone. Again, the link to the National Suicide Hotline website is here, and the phone number is 800-273-8255.