Content is king, or in this case queen. So this year we honour content creators whose talent, personality and influence are making their voices heard through their chosen digital and social media platforms. From established names to micro-influencers with dedicated followers, these women light up the spheres of fashion, beauty, fitness, travel, culture and philanthropy, ignited by the spark that binds them together: authenticity.
ACTOR, SINGER, POET, INFLUENCER
Daiyan Trisha is having a very eventful year. Her TV series Projek High Council became a pop culture phenomenon back in March, and her social media feed continues to inspire as she travels the world creating content for brands the likes of Samsung, Lancome, Longines, and Gucci, just to name a few. And 2023 also brought about one very personal achievement: after five years, Daiyan has finally published her very first poetry book. “I started writing quotes and aphorism in 2018,” she shares. “During the pandemic, my writing became longer and more in depth. That was when I truly started writing meaningful poetry.” She then created a new Instagram account specifically for her poetry, writtin in both Malay and English. “I just needed a special place for my writing to bloom.”
It was her followers who encouraged her to publish, resulting in the book Tulisan By Daiyan Trisha. “[The] response has been so overwhelming. It’s one of the happiest moments in my life. It was sold out, and my readers filmed such creative unboxing content of my book. They love it. It was a different kind of joy seeing people celebrate my book like it’s so precious to them. It touched my heart in a way that I didn’t expect.” The video of Daiyan signing the 2,00th copy of her book has garnered 2.7 million views on Tik Tok. More recently, she has used her influence to shine light on the plight of the people in Palestine, leading by example by donating Rm 20,000 to Persatuan Cinta Gaza Malaysia to encourage her followers to contribute monetary aid to those suffering in the West Bank and Gaza. When asked how she views herself as a content creator, she simply replies, “I am a person of love. I am everything all at once. I can be all that I want to be.”
Athisha Khan caught the eyes of many for her down – to – earth personality and easy-going YouTube videos on her daily life. Over the years, she has evolved into a fashion, beauty and lifestyle influencer, creating content with partners the likes of Valentino, Versace, L’Oreal, Tod’s, Twinings and Samsung. She has also recently collaborated with Malaysian brand Petit Moi for a special fashion collection.
” I started (creating content on YouTube) when I was in my last year at college,” she reveals. “Because at the time my sister was getting married, and I was about to go study abroad, so a lot of big life moments were taking place then.”
Athisha feels that most of her followers ( 322,000 plus on YouTube) are around her age and have grown up along with her through her videos. “I’ll get comments on my old videos such as the time I mentioned that ‘Oh, I’m going to get married in five years time’ and someone commented recently that that did happen. So I think my branding is like this person you would look for to cosy up to. I think there’s a calming feeling you get from watching my content. One of the best comments you can get, at least for me, is when someone says ‘you are my comfort person’. I love that.”
“At the same time, I’m also -and I don’t like saying this because I’m saying it about myself-pretty independent, and like all these other women here I work very hard, and I think all that is reflected in my content,” she adds. “And I have to say, seeing the content that these women and some of my family and friends have posted recently, a lot of us are so brave as well. That you can speak up, post a lot of things that might get you in trouble with certain brands especially with what’s happening in Palestine now…I’m very proud of my family and friends that we are doing that.”
CREATIVE CONSULTANT, ART DIRECTOR, INTERIOR ARCHITECT
Mandy Gioh wears a lot of hats. As the co-founder of production house Frenss Studio, creative director of beauty brand Chuck’s and matcha-based cafe Hejau, creativity and content creation just comes very natural to her. “My version of a content creator, sharding is definitely an important aspect of it, and that your followers have a takeaway after looking at your content, that there’s something they can learn from it,” says Mandy. “Normally, followers ask me about my work ( at Chuck’s), about what the workflow’s like. And I’m always happy to share.
Always on the lookout for creative people to work with, Mandy uses her content as a way to recruit new talents. “Half of the staff at Chuck’s are either my followers or I’ve hunted for them,” she divulges. “Whenever I post an Insta-story, I would actually go and click to see who’s been viewing. From there I would check some of them out, to see what they are into and what they’re like…Then I would DM some of them to tel them how much I love their work, and ask them if they want to come work on a project with me. And then to see them progress and grow into a better version of themselves (from when they first started), it’s a very rewarding experience as a leader.”
So how does Mandy view herself as a brand? “For myself, it’s definitely about confidence. About knowing what you want, and…” Mandy trails, in thought, before Bay Doucet interjects, “Creative, Mandy. You’re creative!” “Oh, yes, thank you! I forgot my job scope all of a sudden,” Mandy laughs. “Yes. It’s about being confident and creative with what you do. That’s my brand.”
JULIA VAN DER DRIFT
PILATES INSTRUCTOR, ENTREPRENEUR, INFLUENCER
The founder of fitness studio, Sculpt Club, pilates instructor and fitness influencer Julia Van Der Drift is celebrated for creating a platform that supports people to feel positive and comfortable with their bodies, regardless of their fitness levels. “I wanted to create a community here in Kuala Lumpur that was willing to give Pilates a try, and to create a fun and intense workout for them,” she told BAZAAR in 2019. The former fashion PR originally tried out Pilates at the suggestion of her mother. Since then, she has become an advocate for the low-impact workout, extolling its many benefits through her content on social media. What’s refreshing about her posts is the care she takes in explaining the purpose of each exercise, thus creating awareness and a better understanding of what Pilates is all about.
When asked about her thoughts on what defines a content creator, Julia replies, “For me, especialy in the field that I’m in (fitness and Pilates), content creation is more about educating my followers. One of my own personal goals is to always learn. There’s always something new to learn and that’s what I basically use my social media for.”
Spending time with this year’s selection of BAZAAR Women Of The Year has added to her learning experience. “Listening to all these women has really let it sink in that what you do as an individual can really leave a mark on other people, whether small or big,” she shares.
“Whatever you do or post can make such an impression on someone else’s life. That’s how I feel when I’m reading through my comments section. Or even when I’m walking through the supermarket and someone taps my shoulder and tells me that they follow my Instagram or have seen my videos on TikTok, and how that helps them to get fit. All those little things that you don’t realise, make such a big impact on someone.
MODEL, SINGER, ACTOR
Salomé Das had just turned 18 when she posed for the cover of Harper’s BAZAAR Malaysia, issue June 2019. The brazen bombshell is unafraid to express her beauty and sensuality and hopes to encourage other women, especially Indian women, to proudly celebrate their authentic selves too. “I’m half French and half Indian, and Indians face a lot of racial discrimination in the world,” she says. “I faced a lot of racism growing up. In school, I was bullied for my skin tone. So I’ve always worn who I am as a symbol of pride. I never realised how much of an effect me just being me had on other Indians, especially Indian girls. I remember walking in 1 Utama shopping centre one time when a group of Indian girls came up to me and they just started crying and told me they’ve never really seen someone who was not only Indian, but one who also proudly talked about feeling beautiful and sexy in the fashion industry. That was touching to me.”
As a content creator, apart from documenting her travels and personal style, Salomé is also known for her enthusiastic food reviews – to say that she is obsessed with food is an understatement. “Growing up in Malaysia ( the food hub of Asia) and being half Indian, food has always been a significant part of my culture. But I realised early on that my love for food is not normal compared to the average person,” she admits with a laugh. However, it was another kind of content that would soon propel her to viral stardom. “(One of my proudest achievements) was having Mick Jagger tell me my accents video was terrific and that I cracked him up!” Jagger’s not the only fan. Since its release last May, that video has since amassed 28.2 million views on TikTok.
And she’s only getting started. Salomé is now signed to a music label and will be dropping her debut single soon – and might we add, her voice is as breathtaking as her looks. Then, come 2024, we will get to see her sing and act in her very first Indian movie. “Honestly, I have always wanted to be a pop star and actress, and I’m feeling blessed and excited to be doing what I love.”
No matter the project she finds herself doing, one thing remains constant. “The biggest thing I stand for is being or living your truest authentic self. There’s no other you in the world. So really take the time to hone in on yourself and find the power in that.”
DANCER, MODEL, INFLUENCER
Having graced magazine covers and multiple fashion campaigns in the past couple of years, Athina Kamarudin has truly come into her own, becoming a force to be reckoned with in our fashion scene. And that she has smooth moves and the most enviable head of hair only add to her allure.
Sought after by brands and designers for her chameleon-like abilities, stunning look, and warm personality, there’s more to her content than mere OOTDs and beauty shots.
“What I want the most out of my digital platforms is to create a safe space for the younger generation,” she begins. “As much as I’m trying to make it a space for me to go to and be myself, I also need to make it very authentic and vulnerable enough for them to come on to it and see that if I can feel a certain way, they should be able to also. It doesn’t matter if it’s me being happy or confident or sad or crying, I want them to realise that at the end of the day, all that is just us being human.”
“And I have to thank Bay (Doucet) for that. I think it was last year when I went on social media watching her talk about her feelings, and it made me think that I can talk about my feelings and that that’s not weird. I can cry and that’s human.”
“I have a little story that everytime I think about it will always bring me back to the reason why I do what I do and stand for what I stand for,” Athina continues.. “It’s about this girl who messaged me this one time. One, she thanked me for existing – and already I was like, wow, I didn’t know my existence played a part (in someone’s life)- then she said ‘because of you I learned to wear jeans.’ It took me by surprise because jeans are such a staple, you know? Everyone grew up wearing them. It turned out she never wore jeans because everyone around her – her family, kids at school- always told her that she was bigger than them and that there were no sizes for her in this world. When I read that it made me so upset, and made me realise that this is what people go through. If I’m to talk about representation especially regarding size, when I started my modelling career I didn’t think that it would impact anyone other than myself. Then I realise that becoming that representation for girls like this or people who look like this who have been going through that struggle, means so much not just to them but to me as well.”
There’s a happy ending to the story too. “Coincidentally, I met that girl a couple of weeks after she sent me that message,” says Athina. “We were in H&M. She ran up to me, bawling her eyes out, then she introduced herself and I realised who she was. She asked if she could see what I was planning to buy so I took her for a walk around the store. It may seem like such a small thing to a lot of people, but to her, she needed that. And I needed that from her as well.”
MODEL, ENTREPRENEUR, INFLUENCER
Starting out on YouTube at the tender age of 13, playing the ukelele as she sang “Kantoi” by Zee Avi, 25 year old Bay Doucet has grown to become a model and fashion influencer adorned by many for her serene beauty, quirky style and creative content ( Chanel and Volvo are diehard fans). As co-founder of curated secondhand store Looop, Bay is also an advocate for sustainability in Malaysia and hopes to create a positive change for the future generation.
Perhaps what’s most endearing about Bay though is her heart and sincerity, which we were all privileged to witness at the BAZAAR Woman Of The Year dinner on the last night of our stay at the Mangala Estate Boutique Resort. When asked about her most rewarding experience with her followers, Bay opened up in a way that took everyone by surprise- herself included. “The most rewarding moment this year was when I shared about my cat passing away,” she began, before unexpectedly tearing up. “Oh, I don’t know if I can go there!” she gasped, before gaining strength from the support of the other women, who were already tearing up with her.
“I think sometimes it’s really scary to share stuff that really matters to you online,” she continued. “Because I think sometimes you think that the people who follow you online are a lot more scary and critical than you think. But after I posted that, in the comments I found myself reading through everybody’s stories of greif and loss. It showed me more than ever how connected we are as humans. Because everybody has lost a pet or a family member or a friend at some point in their life. All of us will go through greif, and for a long time I thought I couldn’t share that part of me there ( On Instagram) because I didn’t want people to attack me. I was just so pleasantly surprised- the comments were the most beautiful collections of personal stories of their painful moments. And for people to feel comfortable enough to write paragraphs worth of text in my comments section, reading through each one was such a special experience. It reminded me that we are more similar than we think.”
Being honest about her emotions is a big part of what Bay’s content is about. “I talk about my feelings a lot, but that’s what it was like for me growing up,” she added. “I have so many big feelings and sometimes it feels like nobody else is feeling these things because people are very good at hiding them.” Bay also enjoys the creative aspect of content creation. “Pushing my own creativity and seeing what I’m able to for myself first and foremost. I love creating content when it comes down to the photography, the editing…it’s nice to be able to control all parts of my work and be able to grow myself not only in front of the camera but behind the camera as well.”
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING SPECIALIST
Warm and engaging, Alyssa Johaan believes in life’s small pleasures, and that’s what we frequent her Instagram for. “I share a lot on my platforms about embracing the little things in life,” she shares, “because I am very much that person. It can be the simplest things such as making coffee, putting on lip balm, getting ready for the day…those are the things that give me comfort and joy. I look forward to that every single day.” As a content creator, Alyssa has an eye for creating the perfect aesthetics for her brand. While many regard her as one of the most stylish Malaysians to know right now ( her personal style and sophisticated taste are always on point), fans love her beautifully curated posts and candid videos, with or without make-up. “For me, it’s so important to show who I really am. I believe in sincerity. Posting things I’m completely genuine about. Even more so in the last few years, I realise that I want to have a voice, to be able to be recognised for my voice. There’s more to it than just a curated feed. So I try to use my voice in however way it can be amplified.”
In the beginning, she didn’t think her content would have any sort of impact on someone.
“Then one day I got a message from this woman who told me that she never used to know how to embrace the little things until she followed me. After seeing me do all that she decided to try it on her own. She shared how she went out on a birthday date by herself, and she realised how beautiful that moment was. And I love that! Because I believe in that as well.” “When I get messages like that, I realise that there is some impact here,” she divulges. “So I hope to continue it, sharing my voice. And if I’m inspiring anyone in some way, I want to continue doing so in the most sincere way possible. ”
SINGER, SONGWRITER, AUTHOR
Aside from her musical endeavours, Claudia Tan is known as the romance author who wrote the massively popular Perfect series. The books have over 160 million reads on Wattpad and earlier this year its second installation, Perfect Addiction, has been adapted into a movie for Amazon Prime, starring Riverdale actor Ross Butler. Claudia had the chance to attend a screening of the film in Los Angeles, where she also signed copies of the book for fans who attended. “My content journey is a little different because I started out doing to push my music and my books,” says Claudia. “After gaining a bit of following from that, I then realise that I want to bring more value to my posts. I find that my journey as a musician and author is something people want to see and tune into. I want to be authentic in showing that journey- not just the good side, but also the struggles. That’s important for people to see, that not-so-perfect side or being an influencer or content creator.”
Claudia is very much aware that social media can be misleading. “Making music or writing books can be a really isolating experience because I’m just in my room 24/7,” she continues. “I never know if there’s someone out there truly listening or reading what I do, because though we see the numbers, we can’t know for sure. Then I went to Singapore to do some shows for my music, and just to see people going out of their way to attend the show, telling me that not only do they love my music but they connect to it, especially the women, I find that empowering. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do with my art.”
A true inspiration, Claudia is not one to be ashamed of expressing neither her dreams nor her sexuality. She has such a cool self-assurance about her, one that is amiable and admirable. “Im not shy about my ambitions,” she smiles. “When you see an ambitious woman on these digital platforms, people can be intimidated by it. I try not to be ashamed of that because I want to show people that this is something that you can absolutely do. I did all this from the ground up, and I’m still hustling. I always try to put out the message of not being ashamed of what you think makes you a woman – I always talk about love, I always talk about sex, and I don’t think it’s something we should be sheepish about. My experience as a woman who is confident and sexual will always be at the forefront of my art and music. And people do appreciate that side of me so I won’t stop doing it.”
VLOGGER, INFLUENCER, ACTOR
In many ways Aisyah Razip is what every Gen Z aspires to become. She started out as a YouTuber at the age of 11, posting videos of her daily life at home with her family. As the years rolled by and her followers increased, videos of her giving a tour of the family home as well as of her newly decorated bedroom would amass views of over one million each. And this was all before she took home the Top Lifestyle Influencer Award for Malaysia at Influence Asia 2017, Asia’s largest social media awards show, when she turned 17. Currently, she has over half a million subscribers on YouTube.
Now, at 23, Aisyah Razip has evolved into one of the country’s top fashion and beauty influencers, with a sophisticated personal style that can easily land her on any best-dressed list. Though her journey as a content creator has landed her multiple collaborations and partnerships- with Fenty Beauty, Garnier, Puma, Kate Spade and Honda in the past few months alone – fans adore her for the very thing that started it all: her candid moments with her family. This year, Aisyah adds another feather to her cap as she makes her acting debut in the TV series My Famous Ex-Boyfriend (Astro), starring alongside musician Hael Husaini. Aisyah recognises that her followers find comfort in her content. “A lot of my followers come up to me with their little stories about how they’ve watched me since they were young,” she says. “Just knowing the fact that I’m like a friend to them, seeing how excited they get and how they say that because of my content they don’t feel lonely, how the videos accompany them when they’re studying…for that 20 to 30 minutes, they can just forget about all the negativity (around them) and in that brief moment they can just smile and laugh, that touches me.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY EDMUND LEE
STYLING BY AI LIM
TEXT BY ABDUL AZIZ DRAIM
SHOT ON LOCATION AT MANGALA ESTATE BOUTIQUE RESORT, KUANTAN
(EXCEPT FOR DAIYAN TRISHA).
OUTFITS BY MARCIANO BY GUESS
PERSONALITIES USING THE SAMSUNG GALAXY Z FLIP5 THROUGHOUT.