Why TikTok and Macro Teamed Up to Launch Incubator for Black Creatives

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“A lot of the trends that are started on TikTok and have truly made their way to the mainstream (come from) black creators,” TikTok’s Kudzi Chikumbu says

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(Clockwise from left) Garden Marcus, Tabitha Brown and Jalaiah Harmon (Garden Marcus, Getty Images, "Ellen")

Building on the extraordinary popularity of Black creators, TikTok is partnering with Macro media company to provide support for Black creators looking to parlay viral success into a career. The social media app and L.A.-based Macro, a multiplatform media company founded by CEO Charles D. King and known for representing people of color, announced the TikTok for Black Creatives Incubator Program, a three-month program dedicated to nurturing and developing 100 Black TikTok creators and music artists. Kudzi Chikumbu, TikTok’s director of community who is spearheading the program, told TheWrap that the program is not specifically directed at bringing new Black creators to TikTok but rather to capitalize on the extraordinary success of Black talent on what he calls an already diverse platform. “A lot of the trends that are started on TikTok and have truly made their way to the mainstream (come from) black creators,” Chikumbu told TheWrap. “Their impact on TikTok is truly undeniable as trend starters, people who inspire millions and are really one of the driving forces of the platform.” Chikumbu said TikTok, which reports 100 million U.S. users, has launched to numerous Black breakout stars including Garden Marcus, who blends his garden tips with positivity; musical artist Queen Kiki, teenage phenom Jalaiah Harmon, creator of the Renegade Dance, and self-described “wife, mom, actress and vegan food influencer” Tabitha Brown. Black TikTok creators who meet the eligibility criteria will be invited to apply for the program through January 27. The 100 finalists will be announced in February, with Macro and TikTok connecting creators with media professionals and industry insiders for motivational sessions, forums and educational events. From that group, a selected cohort of creators will receive grants to use toward the purchase of production equipment and other content development tools and educational resources. MACRO will also help those creators build their brand by advising on content and promotional opportunities. “MACRO and TikTok share a passion for identifying authentic voices and artists that drive the culture,” Stacey Walker King, chief brand officer for Macro, told TheWrap. “The Black creator community on TikTok is at the forefront of that. Macro is proud to help amplify and showcase their immense talent.” Chikumbu said that TikTok was originally known as a user-friendly social media platform for lip-syncing, dancing and introducing meme-like content that was easily shared. Since then, he said TikTok has developed followings and talk groups around areas including food, fashion and animals. Though Chikumbu said there is no shortage of Black talent on TikTok, he added there is often a disconnect between that talent and the ability to develop a personal brand that may lead to long-term success. “One of the things we heard from creators is there are a lot of us creating trends, but we we don’t always know how to translate that into a career or to be as elevated as non-black creators,” Chikumbu said. “And also just wanting more support from TikTok in order to turn their creativity into their dreams.”  Chikumbu said many TikTok creators are just looking to have fun or connect with friends through TikTok, but others want more. “I always say virality is fun, but what you want is a longterm career,” he said. “We can help you thrive on TikTok, and the people at Macro can help you further develop that creativity into actual IP.”


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