ThumbstickMafia is dedicated to supporting and promoting diverse women in gaming – we’re happy to introduce a spotlight to gamers, content creators, streamers, developers and members of the industry.
Today’s Spotlight is on Junae Benne – a multifaceted Gamer, Content Creator and Natural Hair Enthusiast!
You identify as a Natural Hair, Gamer – tell us a bit about that?
I am a Natural Hair Gamer; I combined the two things I love which are my hair and my video games. I do hair product reviews and gaming reviews.
How does natural hair and gaming intersect for you?
Natural hair and gaming intersect for me because these two distinct features define who I am and they are also the main reasons of why I wasn’t and sometimes still not accepted. I don’t want to perm my hair so I’m labeled “rebel”, I play video games I’m trying to fit in with the guys. I’ve heard it all. So I used these features that were displayed as a negative and made them positive.
Tell us about your project, Curls + Controllers.
Curls + Controllers helps me help other curly haired nerds who’ve experienced this ridicule. It’s Junae Benne in a box. Curls + Controllers includes natural hair product samples from small and black business owners. I really like using natural ingredients in my hair because my hair loves it therefore, I try to only use natural products. The other portion of the box are nerd accessories. For example, stuff I can put in my hair, on my keychain or a t-shirt, anything that let’s my geek flag fly. It’s truly a box for curly haired nerds and it’s $25 a month.
You’ve maintained a channel with varied content on YT for years. How did you start content creating?
I started creating content but just doing it. Sometimes it can be nerve racking and because I psych myself out there’s a lot of videos or projects I didn’t make because I thought too much about them.
I take a lot of inspiration from Donald Glover and Issa Rae. I remember watching Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl seeing the production value from episode one to where Pharrell picked it up and thinking it’s ok to not have the best equipment you just have to do it because if people love it they’ll support it. It was the same thing with Donald Glover’s pre-fame Derrick’s Comedy. I also remember Donald Glover said on a late night show that you just gotta do it. If he had a cellphone when he was a kid he would’ve created way more stuff.
What do you like / dislike about the YT community?
I love that you can find anything on YT but I hate that you can find anything on YT! My dislike for YT was described in the an episode of Atlanta on FX by Donald Glover, The Streisand Effect. It’s like you have to exploit someone, even if you like them, to get good numbers & subscribers. Pretty much you have to troll to be noticed at this point. It’s also hard being a female gamer because they expect you (or at least from my experience) to twerk for my views and it’s not that kind of party. And being black it feels and is proven that it’s hard to be taken serious when no one has validated or vouched for you. However, once again I’m turning my negatives to a positive by playing them up… a lot.
How did your experience change once you started creating nerd / gaming related content?
My experience made me more determined because I felt like I was the only female into gaming but then when I saw there was a community it made me want to do more to bring representation as a female and a black gamer.
What brought you to Twitch?
I bought my first new gen console in February 2015 because I knew I had to get on this live-streaming wagon. I had to do too much for live-stream with my PS3 and I could not figure it out so I had to wait it out. I really like that YT has a live-stream option. I think I get more views with YT because of my title and anybody is on YT so I can talk about Atlanta, Insecure, Queen Sugar, Chance The Rapper, etc without people being turned off or chastising me that it’s not fully gaming related.
What’s your favorite method of content creation as of right now and what makes it appealing?
I LOVE doing live videos. Oh my gosh, they’re so much fun! I get to talk and get people’s immediate feedback. Interacting with people is so important and funny for me. I feel like it’s very personable when you do this. It allows people to know that you’re relatable.
How was Worlds? Tell us a bit about that experience and how you started covering events. What do you look forward to the most?
Oh man Worlds 2016 is the most nerdiest lit tournament I’ve ever been to! I’ve never played League of Legends before Worlds. So I went in trying to take in everything and I picked up fairly quickly and learned some cool tips. It was so awesome to be in a place of maximum amount of hype. I have a blurb about it on my blog please check it out
Current game(s) you have in rotation?
The game of the month is African folklore RPG, Aurion. I’ve added in League of Legends because it’s perfect timing. Plus I’m into Mafia III because of the racial conversation that comes with it. I also feature a product of the month and this month it’s Jessicurl.
Last game you really enjoyed?
I super-duper enjoyed Tomb Raider simply because it was hard for me, I streamed the entire game and I made decisions with my viewers, I call them Junebugs. It was awesome that was a game I really felt I defined who I am and what I’m about with my audience. That’s what made it so enjoyable. The same, with the Indie game Furi. It’s happening with Aurion as well. I really like Aurion, it combines RPG & fighting games so I super dig it.
I’m really into Indie Games because I love to see people’s creativity in motion.
Any other upcoming projects? If so, tell folks how they can help find, support and promote them.
Curls + Controllers is my current project. My upcoming project is always getting to the next convention or gaming event. I crated a Patreon.com/JunaeBenne for team work to make the dream work. I want to go to theses cons to create representation. So I’d love a monthly donation if you can’t donate monthly just come by my live-stream and support me with views and by sharing. If you’d like to see my other projects please visit TheGamingDojo.com it goes into detail.
What have been your favorite albums this year?
Alright so I’m trying not to show my Childish Gambino obsession but here it is: I love STN MTN/KAUAI mixtape. I went to his concert but he hasn’t officially released Pharos so I can’t say it’s my favourite but I was jamming to every song. So funky & groovy.
What games are you looking forward to?
TEKKEN7! TEKKEN 7! And… TEKKEN 7! I’ve never had a chance to get into Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts so I’m really looking forward to those two.
Hair products that you definitely can’t live without?
My hair LOVES pure Aloe Vera as a conditioner. If I ever need to reset my hair I just cut it up and rub that stuff all over it.
Fondest gaming memory?
My fondest gaming memory was at my first tournament when I just opened my gaming lounge, The Gaming Dojo, and I got to play with other random people and we were all really enjoying ourselves and that’s why I created my gaming lounge.
How do you think gaming has impacted your life?
Gaming has impacted my life tremendously Everything I do revolves around gaming. I love the instant gratification you get when you achieve something, being able to share a story that means a lot to you with other people, it’s the learning aspect of everyday life and the major skills gained from constructive gameplay. I’m a huge advocate for video games in the learning and leisure environment.