Mari Takahashi, Host and Executive Producer, Smosh Games
Introduction by Meredith Reed, Editor-in-Chief, Like a Boss Girls
Okay, so first things first – I know exactly zero about gaming. I just don’t really “get it”, I guess. Normally when I hear about gaming and gamers, I picture a few unwashed guys who rarely interact with Real Human Women hanging out in a dark, dingy living room eating handfuls of Doritos while glued, glassy-eyed, to the tv screen and a controller for days on end. Before publishing this article, I must admit that I’d never heard of Smosh Games, despite the fact that in the gaming world, it’s practically a household name.
That being said, stereotypes are bad, and please feel free to disregard any unsavory sentiments in the previous paragraph — because Mari Takahashi turns that stereotype on its head. If anyone is going to be able to get me on board with gaming, it’s got to be AtomicMari, my new girl-crush who is a force to be reckoned with in a male dominated industry.
Mari Takahashi (“AtomicMari” to her fans) is a wildly successful Internet personality and gamer with over 750,000 Instagram followers and close to 250,000 subscribers on her personal YouTube channel. This former professional ballerina is now a prominent host and executive producer for DEFY Media’s Smosh Games – a sketch-comedy-meets-gaming YouTube Channel that received a 2016 Webby Award for Best of the Internet. Fun fact: Mari was also a contestant in the 33rd season of Survivor on CBS!
The following interview was originally published on Glossy Cover on 3/5/2018 and has been republished with permission through an editorial partnership between Like a Boss Girls and Glossy Cover. Author: Neda Stoll. Edited for republication by Meredith Reed, Editor-in-Chief, Like a Boss Girls.
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 Smosh Games, which has over 7.2 million YouTube subscribers to date. Following its launch, Smosh Games was the fastest channel ever in acquiring its first one million subscribers on YouTube. This Japanese-American Internet megastar hosts, writes and produces hugely popular series like Smosh Pit Weekly, as well as her eponymous hit show, MariCraft. In an exclusive interview, Mari talks to us about Smosh Games, 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 that was the reason I started in the first place. Ballet helped me with physical strength and agility but it also dancing and it’s part of who I am today. However, as I grew older, I was adventurous and always trying new things. I took many side-gigs along the way. That helped me realize that I had a true passion for gaming. 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? Also, Smosh Games 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 one of the fastest-growing channels. Smosh Games also counts over 3.2 million social media followers and is a two-time Streamy Award winner for “Best Gaming Channel” (2014 and 2017). We have five cast members that do the series, and the entire Smosh team has 50 people supporting it. Videos are posted to the channel daily. 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. 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 underrepresented) 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 in cornering 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. I almost embodied the way they walked and their confidence. My mom is another person I have always admired. She is a badass CEO, an artist, and a self-made woman. My mom has truly followed her passion in life, which is ballet. She has taught me so much and she is part of who I am today.
As an 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. I love her insight that in any industry, we have to be valuable, agile, and creative. We always have to be willing to make adjustments – regardless of what we do for a living – and be flexible.
This article originally appeared in the 3/5/2018 edition of Glossy Cover and has been republished with permission through an editorial partnership between Like a Boss Girls and Glossy Cover.