Safiya Nygaard: Best of Both Worlds


YouTuber Safiya Nygaard is a symbol of intelligence and beauty. Being a powerhouse female Asian-American figure in Hollywood is hard enough on its own, but Nygaard thrives through her steady production of stellar content. Lithium writer Wen Hsiao was lucky enough to interview Safiya for our August issue and find out more regarding her inspirations, the creative process, and her recent departure from BuzzFeed Motion Pictures. 

Lithium: Your departure from BuzzFeed Motion Pictures came across as quite a surprise for a lot of your viewers. Would you like to speak about it?
Safiya: Sure, I mean I think it comes off as a surprise because it’s  BuzzFeed. There is a lack of communication between [them] and the audience because it’s like a large company and we’re not suppose to comment on the videos or that kind of thing . . . there isn’t a lot of seeing the making of or behind the scenes, if that makes sense.

Lithium: Who has inspired you the most in your life?
Safiya: I think [Lucille Ball] is an inspiration to me, comedically. Like, she is one of the funniest women that has ever lived-- one of the funniest people that has ever lived. I am also inspired by her drive and the amount of [work] she did to make her own content. She and her husband had their own studio and she was one of the first female studio heads [in] Hollywood. She did it her way and paved the way for a lot of people after her. I think she is a very powerful figure.

Lithium: How do you think being Asian-American has impacted your career?
Safiya: I think that, you know, there’s been a lot of talk about there not being opportunities for Asian-American actors in Hollywood. I think that YouTube and digital media is a way to just get straight to your audience without having to go through anyone else. And I think a lot of content creators and, as I said, Asian-American content creators have found success in that way, by just going straight to the audience. This shows that there is a demand for it, for role models and that type of content, [which] is awesome. Honestly, I think that it has shown me that YouTube is the target place to be, because even if you’re not Asian-American, it's [great for] connecting to your audience. It is so important and so empowering.


Lithium: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Safiya: In ten years, I would love to still be making content. I would love to be able to still make content for YouTube-- I have loved YouTube for such a long time. I remember watching Potter Puppet Pals on YouTube when I was 12! I’ve been a habit consumer of YouTube for such a long time. Working with BuzzFeed was very empowering for me. It made me realize I could be a creator as well and now that I am doing my own channel on YouTube, I absolutely love it. I love the YouTube audience. I love the power you have [in] being an independent content creator. I don't know what the future will bring necessarily. I am open to pretty much any kind of opportunity but I’d love to still be making content in some way— on the internet— for sure.

Lithium: What kind of effects has the rise of social media had on you and your content?
Safiya: I think it's given me a more direct way to speak to my audience. I love talking to them, honestly. You know, as I gain more subscribers, it is more difficult to make sure [I] speak to every single person, but when I do get the chance, I like to make sure I’m updating on Twitter, on Instagram, [and] even on YouTube. I love being in the comments with them [and] I love saying hello. I love hearing what their lives are like. Like, a huge thing [social media] has given us is the ability to speak directly to your audience, you know? You don't need to be doing focus groups necessarily, you can kind of Tweet it out and be like, “Are you guys interested in this?" and they’ll let you know. Being interactive with your audience is very important and I think only good things can come if you listen to what your audience is telling you. My audience [is] so amazing and I love them so much. They’re so positive! If they’re telling me something, I usually listen.

After Nygaard left BuzzFeed, she strived to create more content of her own, appealing to a similar audience while simultaneously curating her own path in her professional journey. 

To read the full interview, click here.

Keep up with Safiya’s journey on her YouTube channel, Twitter, and Instagram!

Photos by JD Renes

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