If you’ve ever been on Twitch, then you’ve certainly seen a clip of Imane “Pokimane” Anys.
Pokimane is one of the most recognizable figures in streaming. As of this article’s publication, she has over 6 million followers on Twitch.
Like Ninja, Pokimane has demonstrated that the relatively niche industry of video game streaming is becoming increasingly mainstream. In one big crossover event, the streamer collaborated with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an Among Us event to promote voter participation.
So who is Pokimane and how’d she get started in streaming? Here’s what you need to know.
Pokimane and her life before streaming
A post shared by pokimane (@pokimanelol) on Feb 26, 2020 at 3:35pm PST
Imane “Pokimane” Anys was born on May 14, 1996, in Morocco and was raised in Canada. Like many other streamers, the 24-year-old began streaming for fun in 2004 after being inspired by the YouTubers she grew up watching.
Though Pokimane began her career as a League of Legends streamer, she’s now primarily known as a variety streamer — someone who plays a wide range of titles rather than focusing on a single game.
Before going full-time into streaming, Pokimane was a student at McMaster University studying chemical engineering. In an AMA video, Pokimane shared that she actually loved school and would continue her education if there was a specific degree she wanted to earn.
She’s fluent in English, French and Arabic. As a member of OfflineTV (which is predominantly made up of Asian diaspora streamers), she’s often been mistaken as Asian. Pokimane took a DNA test to put the rumors to rest and her results confirmed that she is North African along with some Southern European ancestry and traces of West African and Sub-Saharan African heritage.
She’s been nominated for numerous awards and has a Fortnite dance
As a content creator, Pokimane’s influence has been recognized in the industry through various award nominations and homages.
She won the Twitch Streamer of the Year award in 2018 at the 10th Annual Shorty Awards. In her acceptance speech, she thanked her supporters and recounted how just a year prior, she was stressing out about exams.
“Thank you to anyone that voted for me or has supported my content in any way,” she said during her Shorty speech. “A year and a half ago, I was stressing about chemical engineering exams and now I’m playing video games for a living.”
Pokimane also has her very own Fortnite emote titled Poki, modeled after a dance she did on TikTok that went viral in its own right.
She’s played Among Us with AOC and she’s going to be in a movie with Ryan Reynolds
More recently, Pokimane and fellow streamer Hasan Piker helped organize an Among Us stream with politicians Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. The event was a massive success and became one of the most-watched video game streams of all time.
best day ever
— pokimane (@pokimanelol) October 21, 2020
She’s also making some inroads into Hollywood. Pokimane has confirmed that she’ll be making a cameo appearance in “Free Guy” starring Ryan Reynolds.
— pokimane (@pokimanelol) October 5, 2020
She’s been candid about her struggles and her controversies
Unfortunately, Pokimane has also experienced her share of downs.
In August, she took a month-long break from streaming to deal with burnout. It was the first time she has ever taken an extended break. Prior to this, Pokimane had been streaming nonstop for six years.
She has also been accused of homophobia and using racial slurs on stream, both times by Daniel “Keemstar” Keem, the controversial host of DramaAlert.
Keemstar himself encouraged people to spam racial slurs at a moderator in 2008 and tweeted that he “can’t wait to report your death” in 2016 to John “TotalBiscuit” Bain while TotalBiscuit was struggling with terminal cancer. He has apologized for both actions.
— KEEM (@KEEMSTAR) November 2, 2018
i said "this anivia" (shounded like "this nivia"), aka a champion in league of legends. smh when u found out keem is a fake gamer
on the real, stop baiting likes by spreading lies.
— pokimane (@pokimanelol) March 4, 2019
Pokimane has apologized for her past tweets (which she made while she was in high school) and clarified that the word she used on stream was actually Anivia, a character in League of Legends.
She was also warned by Twitch for accidentally showing an explicit adult webpage on stream. Like some other streamers, Pokimane fell victim to the common troll tactic of sending streamers seemingly innocuous links that actually contain content that’s banned on Twitch.
Though Pokimane is quiet about her private life, she has been very open about her difficulties with perfectionism and dealing with toxic commenters, anxiety and emotional turbulence. Her interview with Dr. Alok “Dr. K” Kanojia of Healthy Gamer was eye-opening for many viewers who had no idea how stressful being a professional streamer could be.
She also runs an ASMR channel and a fashion brand
A post shared by pokimane (@pokimanelol) on Jun 18, 2020 at 11:11am PDT
Aside from gaming, Pokimane runs a popular ASMR channel where she roleplays common triggers such as storytelling, teaching and tapping noises. She even did a collaboration with T-Pain.
Pokimane is also a creative director at Cloak, a streetwear brand she runs with other gaming creators such as Mark “Markiplier” Fischbach and Seán “Jacksepticeye” McLoughlin. Given the increasing overlap between gaming and streetwear, this makes perfect sense!
She worked with Streamlabs to set her max donation cap at $5
Pokimane implemented a customized donation program where no donor can give her more than $5. While there were previously programs that required a minimum amount for donation, this is the possibly the first time Streamlabs (a popular program and service used by streamers) offered a setting for a max limit.
In 2019, Pokimane’s fellow OfflineTV member Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wang disabled all donations to his channels. Toast said that fans should be sending their money to smaller streamers since he is already financially comfortable.
It seems Pokimane is following Toast’s lead. She announced the change during her stream and thanked her fans for supporting her throughout the years, including when she had $20,000 in student debt.
Some Twitch streamers have received bonkers amounts of money from fans in the past. A mysterious benefactor only known as Amhai has regularly dropped $10,000 in single payment donations to various streamers.
These big donations have also raised ethical concerns of whether streamers who already have lucrative careers should be receiving such large amounts in the first place, especially if some of these donors might be giving beyond their means.
Those questions were a big part of why Pokimane added the hard money cap.
“I just really want to thank you guys for supporting me,” she said on stream. “When I was in high school … to the very, very lucky place where I am today.”
If you enjoyed this story, check out In The Know’s piece on Sweet Anita, the Twitch streamer who refuses to be identified by her Tourette’s syndrome.
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