Glossy Cover Spotlight: Meet Female Gamer Mari Takahashi
As one of the top female names in gaming, Mari Takahashi is at the helm of DEFY Media’s brand SMOSH Games with over 7.1M subscribers. Smosh is one of the fastest-growing channels to reach 1 million on YouTube at launch. The Japanese-American Internet megastar hosts, writes and produces the hugely popular series Smosh Pit Weekly and MariCraft. In an exclusive interview, Mari talks to us about SMOSH, her journey to becoming a female gamer and her inspirations along the way.
GC: You started your career in the arts as a ballerina and later decided to pursue gaming. How did you get started?
Mari: I started dancing at a very young age of 2 ½. My mother was a ballet instructor and the reason I started in the 1st place. Ballet helped me with physical strength and agility but it also taught me so much about life and it’s part of who I am today. However, as I grew older, I was adventurous and always trying new things and took many side gigs along the way. What I realized, is that I had a true passion for gaming and it was my escape and that’s how it all started.
GC: You’re a producer on Smosh Games. Can you tell us a little bit about Smosh Games and what your role is? Smosh Games also has a very large following, can you tell us why you think people are such fans of the brand?
Mari: The SMOSH Games channel is an award-winning gaming brand that launched on YouTube in September 2012. It was an extension of digital comedy powerhouse SMOSH and became the fastest-growing channels. SMOSH Games also counts over 3.2MM social followers and is a two-time Streamy Award winner for “Best Gaming Channel” (2014 and 2017). We have 5 cast members that do the series and the entire SMOSH brand has 50 people supporting it. Videos are posted to the channel daily and we play games, conduct reviews and provide updates.
GC: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about being a female in the gaming industry?
Mari: Female gamers have always existed and are on the rise today. It’s important to know that we have a place in this industry so don’t let biases get in the way. Be true and genuine to yourself. There is so much opportunity out there and it’s up to you to find it.
GC: How do you want to empower other young girls or women should they choose a career in gaming?
Mari: I’d love to inspire women coming into the gaming industry (and other industries where we’re under represented) to be unafraid and proud to be stepping into a field that’s been painted as a scary exclusive one. Flip the script. Create a different narrative for yourself. I’ve fully leveraged the fact that I’m a minority in this industry as a tool to corner an untapped market. Be smart. Earn your stripes. And work your ass off.
GC: Who is your role model and who inspires you?
Mari: Growing up, I looked up to movie and video game characters and I almost embodied the way they walked and their confidence. My mom is another person I have always admired. She is a bad-ass CEO, an artist and self-made. My mom has truly followed her passion in life which is ballet. She has taught me so much and part of who I am today.
As as adult, Sheryl Sandberg is one woman who truly inspires me. After reading her book Lean In, I realized how important it is to create a community and circles of women. This was eye opening for me and not something I grew up with. Love her analogy that in any industry, we have to be valuable, agile, and creative. Always have to adjust regardless of what you do for a living and be flexible.
Mari: Especially with digital media, there is a lot of pressure to be something quickly. It’s important to live a well-rounded life. Take a lot of jobs, continue to fail till you figure things out. I always say that you need to show up and don’t be a jerk. This is how I got into SMOSH. One lesson I have learned from ballet is that the show must go on and you have to do your best at that moment. You can course correct after the show or pat yourself on the back.
GC: Can you talk about your experience on the Survivor? What was it like to compete? What did you learn from that experience?
Mari: I was really surprised by the experience. So, I felt like I was stripped out of my identity and who I am. I was scared and felt like I was 15 all over again. However, it was certainly a humbling and a beautiful experience at the same time. It’s moments like this that teaches you about who you truly are. I’ll always be grateful about the opportunity and experience.
GC: We always ask this question on Glossy Cover, what is your morning routine?
Mari: I give myself at least an hour and a half in the mornings. I use an App called Simple Habit for meditation. After meditation, I go through a stretch routine. I have the advantage of being a dancer, so I can always figure out what my body needs at that moment. Then I go through my scheduling book and plan my day.
GC: Is there anything you’re working on, personally or professionally, this year that you’re really excited about?
Mari: With SMOSH brand, we’re always working on something new and innovative. We’ll have our annual summer games coming up. So, STAY TUNED! On a personal level, I would like to focus more on being a thought leader and influencer and create a community within that.