Forbes has published its list of top content creators for the year 2023. Of the 50 content creators who made the list, only seven Blacks were named. With a combined following of 2.6 billion, the 50 creators brought in an estimated $700 million in earnings.
“To rank the world’s Top Creators, Forbes crunched data on the estimated earnings, follower counts, engagement rates, and entrepreneurial activities of thousands of internet personalities with the help of the creator marketing firm, Influential,” according to Forbes.
Below are the seven Black content creators on Forbes’ 2023 Top Creators list.
Olajide Olatunji (KSI)
Olajide Olatunji (KSI) is a British-Nigerian content creator who transitioned from commenting on and reacting to FIFA video games on YouTube to becoming one of the most celebrated influencers in the world.
His journey began in 2008 when he first arrived on YouTube. A year later, his channel was launched under the name KSIOlajideBT and he began filming himself playing video games – usually FIFA and running humorous commentaries which earned him millions of followers.
A decade down the line, KSI has become a multimillionaire on the back of the success of his YouTube channel. He has more than 40 million subscribers and cumulative views spanning more than 10 billion. Today, he runs YouTube with other ventures, including music, boxing, and his boxing company, MisFits Boxing. He also co-owns Prime Hydration energy drink with former boxing rival Logan Paul. The energy drink has taken the industry by storm, becoming extremely popular among its young fanbase. The drink has even sponsored the Arsenal Football Club.
Per Forbes ‘Top Creators 2023’ list, he has a total earnings of $24 million. His position on the list makes him one of the top content creators in the world with not only a huge following but a massive fortune.
Khaby Lame has made a name for himself making comedy skits that mock overly complicated “life hacks” without saying a word. By the end of 2022, Lame emerged as the most-followed person on TikTok with over 160 million followers, propelling him to stardom as one of the most influential black people in the world.
Now with a social media following of 224 million, he amassed $16.5 million in earnings over the past 12 months, making him one of the highest-paid content creators in the world, according to Forbes. His earnings put him in 11th position on Forbes’ freshly released roster of the world’s leading creators.
Drew Desbordes (Druski)
Drew Desbordes (Druski) is a comedian who has managed to capture the attention and respect of audiences like no other. Known for his humorous skits, he has not only endeared himself to multiple hearts but has also left an imprint on the entertainment industry.
He has successfully turned his funny side into a media empire. According to Forbes, he has been the opener for several concerts by musicians like J. Cole and Lil Baby. Druski also doubles as an actor and has acted in TV series like “House Party” and “Praise This,” and went on his own sold-out comedy tour “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda.” The debut tour started in March 2023 in Richmond, VA, and stopped at a total of 30 venues.
Also, he has his own satirical label Coulda Been Records, and corporate partners, including Nike, Google, and AT&T. In addition, he is the pitchman for Happy Dad, a hard seltzer brand that he partly owns.
He recently launched his own sports agency called 4Lifers. His agency wasted no time disrupting the industry, signing star Florida Gators edge rusher Princely Umanmielen as 4Lifers’ first athlete client.
With a social media following averaging 12 million and $10 million in earnings, he is one of the top-earning content creators in the world, according to Forbes. His earnings put him in the 20th position on Forbes’ freshly released roster of the world’s leading creators.
Marques Brownlee is a popular tech YouTuber known by his alias MKBHD. His content-creating career dates back to 2009 when he was in high school. At the time, he recalled saving up his allowance from his parents to buy a laptop.
After turning his passion into a full-time career, he became a tech reviewer, reviewing anything technology on his YouTube channel. In 2013, former Google senior vice president Vic Gundotra called Brownlee “the best technology reviewer on the planet.”
Today, he has over 17 million subscribers on the platform and has also interviewed big names like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Kobe Bryant, and Barack Obama. According to Forbes, he has made total earnings of $8.5 million, making him one of the top-earning content creators in the world. He is number 32 on the list.
Kai Cenat is a Twitch and YouTube creator with a total following of 22 million. The 21-year-old has captured a massive audience with his gaming and pranks. On Twitch alone, he has over 6.5 million followers, making him the most-subscribed user on the platform and 4 million on YouTube. A New York native, who is of Haitian and Trinidadian heritage, he first began creating YouTube prank and challenge content in 2018.
In January 2023, he achieved a milestone by successfully livestreaming around the clock for a 30-day “subathon” to encourage subscriptions. He reportedly broke the previous record for active subscribers, with more than 300,000 paying viewers.
This move saw him win “Streamer of the Year” at the Streamer Awards in March. He had won a similar award in October last year. Among Forbes Top Creators List 2023, Cenat boasts the highest engagement rate, with nearly 26% of his audience tuning in to watch his hyperactive livestreams, Forbes said.
According to Forbes, his social media activities have seen him make $4.7 million. This puts him among the top-earning content creators in the world, per Forbes. He is 44th on the list.
Monet McMichael is a Rutgers nursing graduate turned beauty influencer. Her journey started when she began posting random videos while still in school. It started as a hobby, she told Forbes, and when her content began going viral, she turned it into her main hustle.
McMichael became a professional content creator in February 2022 when she got a gig from a haircare brand. “I was super excited,” she said about the deal. “I remember I told my mom about it.”
She boasts 5 million followers across multiple platforms. On TikTok alone, she has over 2.9 million followers and over 134 million likes, with a total social reach of 3.6 million across that platform and others like Instagram and YouTube. She is featured on Forbes’ 2023 Top Creators list, with an overall ranking of 47 and total earnings of $4 million.
Drea Okeke (Drea Knows Best)
Drea Okeke is a former engineer turned content creator. The Nigerian American’s talents lie within comedy, storytelling, consultancy, motivational and public speaking. Over the years, she has been hailed as one of the accounts to follow on TikTok.
She has seven million followers on TikTok and has collaborated with brands such as Nissan, Google, Coca-Cola, 7-Eleven, Disney, Netflix, McDonald’s, and TikTok. She also runs her education company, Next Level Influence, which teaches people how to build digital communities.
According to Forbes’ 2023 Top Creators list, she has made $1 million and is ranked 49 on the list.