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@JunaeBenne, 29 – FUNDED

@JunaeBenne is an esports hostess who is passionate about encouraging Black and POC women in the esports, gaming, and technology industries. Formerly having worked in the traditional news space, this BroadcastHER Grant winner is determined to carve out a space for journalism within gaming and esports. To that goal, she started a “This Week in Gaming” series and is also a variety streamer who showcases resume- and social media-building. You can “meet” her here!

What is your dream as a digital broadcaster?

I want to provide content that helps anyone become a better writer, content creator, or community leader. I want to be a gateway to help my community; everything I do is for the goal of becoming a bridge for others.

How will the BroadcastHER Grant from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals?

It will help me provide content that is easy to consume. For example, in the middle of my first charity stream, my stream and computer crashed. I don’t want that to happen ever again. Sometimes I have audio issues, so videos with pertinent information are hard to digest.

What does being the recipient of the BroadcastHER Grant mean to you?

It means more opportunities; it means the beginning of a new era of having everything I physically need to continue to strive to help others be the best they can be. I already have the gumption inside me; it was the lack of equipment stopping me from boosting my production value.

Women are underrepresented in gaming, broadcasting, and e-sports. What can we do to change this?

Hire more Black women! Don’t have a higher or weird expectation for women that you don’t have for men. The same goes for BIPOC women; we “look different” because no one is used to seeing us in different shapes and sizes. We all deserve an opportunity to thrive and to learn. Know that you can teach anything except passion. Stop hiring people because they look like they can do a job. We can all do a job if we’re given the chance. We need less gatekeeping and nepotism.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

Racism, colorism, and sexism — and being turned away because the projects that I worked on are “grassroots.” These projects were only considered grassroots because they focused on Black women in gaming and nerd-dom. I was doing the same job, just among a different demographic, and it wasn’t accepted as the same thing.

What advice do you have for women who want to start broadcasting?

Do that -ish, sis! I went from traditional news to video game news and it wasn’t easy. My appearance was counted as less desirable because I am a dark skin, natural hair, Black woman. You have to give yourself your first chance if no one else will. That’s why I started streaming. I started making the “This Week in Gaming” series with the tools that I had, i.e. my phone and free editing software that came with a watermark.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I love knowing that there is a way I can help Black women and underrepresented women of color in this space. I want to make progress and then share it with everyone else because I didn’t have a path or much advice when I first started out. But information is flowing a bit more loosely now and I’m grateful for that.