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The untold truth of Pokimane

Imane Anys, better known by her screen name Pokimane, is a Moroccan-born video game streamer who very quickly ascended to become one of the most viewed Twitch streamers. Since her humble beginnings playing League of Legends in 2017, Imane has branched out to other games such as Fortnite and Valorant, growing her audience and amassing over 4 million Twitch followers. Ranking as both the most popular female Twitch streamer and holding a place as one of the top ten Twitch streamers of all time, Pokimane has made quite the name for herself in the competitive world of streaming.

Imane is an entrepreneur who runs her own digital content empire, with content streams across Twitch, several YouTube channels, and other social media platforms. Factor all of that in with managing an online brand, a makeup line, and collaborations with other creators, and you'll come to realize — Pokimane has a lot going on.

Here are some of the need-to-know facts for anyone looking to learn more about Twitch's top female streamer.

Poki quit college to livestream on Twitch full time

Initially, Imane attended McMaster University to study engineering. In her Draw My Life video, she explains that the program was rigorous, requiring students to take an excessive course load. The demanding nature of the engineering program resulted in her friends switching majors, leaving Imane feeling alone and stressed. To add to her growing headaches, the heavy course load meant that streaming became less feasible as a side hobby. However, Imane would soon find a way to engineer success on her own terms.

Though her schoolwork consumed most of her free time, Imane's streaming hobby was beginning to pick up steam, and she eventually gained a substantial following. Imane started to make so much money from Twitch streams that she ultimately convinced her parents that it was more lucrative to pursue streaming full time, and the rest is history. Imane's decision to drop out of college was about doing what made her happy, and she encourages her fans to follow their hearts as well.

When accepting the Shorty Award for Twitch Streamer of the Year, she said, "A year and a half ago, I was stressing about Chemical Engineering exams, and now I'm playing video games for a living. So please, anyone out there, if you have a passion, follow it. It will be worth it."

Poki got into a beef with Keemstar

Though the streamer has stayed largely controversy-free, Pokimane did find herself mixed up in a bit of Twitter drama in 2018. The debacle began when Keemstar posted screenshots of one of YouTuber SSSniperWolf's fans on Twitter, mocking them and calling them a virgin. Pokimane responded, saying, "It's fine to dislike another content creator, but you probs shouldn't hate on innocent fans... do better, keem." The two exchanged short videos retorts further in the replies, which ultimately sparked an even more heated response from Keemstar. The following day, the drama YouTuber dug up some of Poki's less-flattering tweets to her friends and posted them.

In a stream later that day, Pokimane talked with viewers about the tweets before diving into a game of Fortnite. She incredulously summed up the situation by saying Keemstar was trying to "expose" her for calling a friend "gay." She went on to further defend her jokes, saying, "If you're joking around with your friend and you call them a virgin, or you're like, 'KYS,' or whatever, no one's gonna get mad at that. It's you joking with your friend. If both people are okay with it, [then] whatever."

Pokimane was accused of unfairly copyright striking YouTube videos

Following the drama between Pokimane and Keemstar, PewDiePie made a video that alleged Pokimane and a host of other content creators were copyright striking video compilations unfairly. In PewDiePie's view, the creators making these copyright claims were hypocritical because they also profited off of commentary and unoriginal content. Similarly, other creators like Memeology 101 and Fainted had their own similar criticisms of Pokimane, which also earned the streamer some negative press. 

Pokimane offered her own explanation of the copyright claims, saying that a video created by YouTuber BowBlax was taken down because she thought it didn't "add anything to the conversation." The video in question was an upload of the Twitter beef between Keemstar and herself without any visual or audio commentary from the creator. According to Pokimane, "[If] you edit videos and actually put effort into it and make it more entertaining for the viewer," then she's okay with her content being featured. However, when the material is simply a re-upload or has a deceptive title, she's less accepting. 

After the controversy gained traction, Pokimane's monthly Twitch channel viewership shot up by about 1.5 million more viewers, likely due to the attention brought to her by PewDiePie and other content creators who covered the controversy. However, her channel's number of followers continued on a downward trend in January and would not recover for a full year.

Imane is represented by a talent agency with a bunch of big clients

When you're a big enough Twitch streamer that even your smaller streams have tens of thousands of viewers, you're likely going to need some equally big representation. With Pokimane being among the top ten streamers on Twitch, having a reputable agency is basically a necessity. When it comes to managing big names, what could be a better choice than one of the biggest talent agencies in North America: United Talent Agency?

United Talent Agency has clients in TV hosts, actors, musicians, comedians, digital talent, esports players, and more. Some of the agency's notable clients include, but aren't limited to, Eric Andre, Will Ferrell, Bo Burnham, Chris Pratt, Paramore, and Pink Floyd. A company handling all of these prominent creators likely seemed like a safe bet for Pokimane. Though United Talent Agency certainly has a lot to offer Pokimane, the more interesting part of this equation is that Pokimane was a big enough name for this behemoth talent agency to sign in the first place.

Pokimane is a member of Offline TV

Following in the footsteps of other prominent content creators like FaZe Clan or Team 10, Offline TV — sometimes referred to as the "Scarra House" by fans — is a collaborative endeavor between various big-name creators who live together as housemates. Several creators have come and gone since the channel's inception, including Xell, MarkZ, and Pokelawls. Currently, the members of Offline TV are Scarra (the group's founder), Pokimane, LilyPichu, Disguised Toast, Fredmyster, and Michael Reeves. These powers combined make Offline TV a veritable hub of exciting content.

In an interview with The Rift Herald, Pokimane explained the project, saying, "Offline TV is basically just a house full of content creators that all got together to create a channel and basically collab in real time, almost all the time." She also explained the more personal motivations for joining the house.

"I think all streamers can relate to kind of feeling lonely when you live alone and your whole life and work and job is on the computer," she said. "At one point, you start to feel isolated and most people in the house have gone through that feeling before...so we decided to come together in a way so we not only keep each other company but we can also collab and actually do good work and content for everyone else."

She runs a second Youtube channel dedicated to ASMR

The sudden burst of ASMR videos might seem confusing from an outsider perspective, but the trend has proven to be quite popular. For those uninitiated, ASMR stands for an autonomous sensory meridian response. An ASMR sensation feels like a gentle yet pleasurable tingling of the scalp, and has been likened to the feeling of goosebumps mixed with the static-like feeling of a limb going numb. Though the sensation can be caused accidentally, some people make content specifically designed to elicit this response, and Pokimane is no exception.

All in all, the Poki ASMR YouTube channel has 41 videos, each with a specific ASMR trigger with techniques ranging from tapping the microphone to teaching you French. Pokimane's hard work seems to have paid off, and her ASMR channel has grown to 682,000 subscribers. However, the growth slowed significantly after Pokimane stopped uploading new ASMR videos in September 2019. Though subscriber growth has slowed down, viewership is still high months after the latest video released, proving that there might still be an audience for this channel if Pokimane chooses to return.

Pokimane's media empire costs a lot of money to run

In an interview with personal finance YouTuber Graham Stephan, Imane talked about how she delegates work to maintain the Pokimane brand. She employs a team of editors, a manager for her editing team, a social media assistant, a general manager, and a business manager. In addition, she also makes a monthly payment to her talent agent from UTA.

Even with all of these people on her payroll, however, Imane doesn't want to become detached from the work that goes into her content. She told Graham, "I still have oversight on everything, so I'm in all the conversations." But that doesn't mean that she needs to make all of the decisions. "I try to be as hands-off as possible, just so I can have any sort of a personal life or time to myself," she said.

All in all, Imane says that the amount she pays other people varies depending on her schedule and workload, but it ranges anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 every month. Pokimane's successful business model proves that, sometimes, you have to spend money to make money.

She will appear in the Ryan Reynolds film Free Guy

During New York Comic-Con in 2019, a new movie called Free Guy was officially revealed. The film follows a bank teller — played by Ryan Reynolds — who comes to the startling realization that he is a non-playable character in an open-world game. Fitting in with the gaming theme, it was also announced that the project will feature cameos from a few high profile gamers including Ninja, Lazarbeam, and Jacksepticeye. Also included on the list of cameos is Pokimane, who announced the news on Twitter by saying, "Mom, I'm gonna be in a movie with Ryan Reynolds."

While some YouTubers, such as Fred, Smosh, and The Angry Video Game Nerd have moved from uploading videos online to making feature-length films, it's less common to see content creators invited onto pre-existing Hollywood projects. With this in mind, perhaps Free Guy will open the door for Pokimane to appear in future movies.

Poki has her own line of makeup with Winky Lux

The Amazon docu-series Streaming IRL offers a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of streamers and influencers. The show's pilot episode covered Pokimane and explored her day-to-day life balancing her career as a streamer and trying to expand her brand. A large portion of the episode detailed Pokimane's experience developing her first makeup line. At the time of filming, Poki was headed to New York for a business meeting to discuss her collaboration with the makeup brand Winky Lux. Imane explained, "I'm taking a really big step with my brand and my community in terms of doing something that a Twitch streamer has never done before, which is have an actual makeup collaboration with a big brand." 

But Pokimane also saw her Poki Palette line as a way to grow her audience. She further elaborated on the decision to launch a makeup brand, saying, "I also see it as an opportunity to make my demographic a little more even. My demographic is mostly dudes...so I can reach more girls by doing makeup stuff." According to United Talent Agency's profile of Pokimane, her audience is 84% male, so the decision to appeal to the female demographic is a likely good one.

Pokimane signed an exclusivity deal with Twitch

After other successful streamers like Ninja and Disguised Toast left Twitch for competing platforms, Pokimane told her fans in March 2020 that she wasn't going anywhere.

Imane offered an explanation in a YouTube video, stating, "I decided to take less money to stay on Twitch. And when I say less money, the differential is more than I have in my bank account right now. Twitch gave me a very fair offer, and as tempting as it was, I didn't want to go to the highest bidder." Though she wouldn't disclose which company it was, she told her fans that she had narrowed her choices down to Twitch and another unspecified platform.

When discussing how she made a choice between the two platforms, Pokimane noted how important it was she could recommend a platform to up-and-coming streamers. Because of that, she looked carefully between the two platforms in terms of chat delays, infrastructure, servers, the streamer community, exposure, and so forth when making her decision. But overall, her decision came down to more personal factors. According to Imane, "For many reasons, it's better to take less money to feel like I'm gonna be happier overall and there won't be a hassle of moving my community around or switching platforms."

She keeps her dating life under wraps

In a past stream, Pokimane has told her viewers, "I'm a streamer, not an actress." In essence, it's hard for her to keep things from her audience and to pretend to be something she's not. Regardless of this difficulty, Imane has been consistently resolute in her absolute refusal to discuss her romantic relationships on stream, YouTube, or social media. The ambiguity surrounding Pokimane's relationship status has left many speculating about potential relationships with other streamers or secret boyfriends, which Pokimane has admitted makes her feel weird. 

Part of the streamer's reluctance can be chalked up to the nature of dating while in the public sphere. 

"I don't know if I would like, really want to put my relationship out there once I get into one," she said in a video. "For example, I'm sure you've seen a lot of couples out there who make their relationship public. And then whenever they go through troubles, whenever they break up, whenever they do whatever, they have to make that public, too. And ew, I don't know if I wanna go through that."

Aside from privacy concerns, some people have speculated that Imane potentially sees profit in appearing romantically available, encouraging more financial support from the lonelier corners of her fan base. Pokimane has stated that theories like these bother her, adding, "I don't think there's anything I particularly do that justifies that assumption."

Her team won the 2019 Twitch Rivals League of Legends tournament

Twitch Rivals is a series of esports tournaments held on Twitch that features some of the platform's biggest names along with handsome prize pools. The first North American Twitch Rivals tournament took place in March 2018 with StarCraft 2. Competitions were also held for games like Fortnite, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and even Cliff Bleszinski's now offline "X-TREME Early Access" battle royale Radical Heights

But from Jan. 15 to Jan. 23, 2019, Twitch Rivals hosted a League of Legends tournament. One of the teams participating was EZ Clap, which was comprised of Pokimane, Mo "Revenge" Kaddoura, Janet "xChocobars" Rose, ChaseShaco, and Natsumiii. The tournament had a total prize pool of $75,000, with $35,000 going to the first place winners. EZ Clap climbed through the rankings of the tournament and finished off a nail-biting grand finals match with a score of 2-1 against Team One Tricks.

With a tournament win now under her belt, it's clear that Pokimane isn't just one of the most entertaining streamers on Twitch — she also has the skills to compete when push comes to shove.

She hesitates to stream Fortnite now

With Fortnite being one of the most-watched games on Twitch, the title is one of the best bets to bring in views. However, the game has run into a bit of a problem as of late: a lack of new content. Several streamers, including Pokimane, have noticed this problem, saying that the game "hasn't released anything in a minute." All of this has made the game less fun to play for Imane, who said, "[...] I really value my happiness, my sanity, my peace of mind way more than any bonus income."

However, stagnation isn't the only reason Poki has stepped away from streaming Fortnite. One of the biggest issues for streamers is stream sniping, where a player watches a stream to get a tactical advantage in a match against a streamer. The technique is widely considered a form of cheating when used in multiplayer games and can result in harsh punishments. Some popular streamers – such as Ninja – have even reported Fortnite players who are suspected of cheating during a stream.

With the problem so widespread, it comes as little surprise that Imane has had her own run-ins with people watching her stream games while in matches against her, making the game less fun to play overall. "I get a million stream snipers, and then I want to cry," she claimed in a video. If that's the case, it's no wonder she'd want to step away from Fortnite for a bit.

January 2019 was the best and worst month of her life

In one of her more serious YouTube videos, Imane explained that January of 2019 was the worst month of her entire life while paradoxically also being the best month, too. Sure, the month was full of incredible highs, such as winning the Twitch Rivals League of Legends tournament and streaming at the Pro Bowl. But there was more going on behind the scenes than gaming tournaments.

Toward the end of January, Imane revealed during one of her streams that a friend of hers from university had suddenly passed away. This same friend had just reached out to Imane days prior to offer a few words of emotional support about the copyright striking controversy that was surrounding her at the time.

Following the stream, Poki explained her reason for sharing the story with her audience.

"I just want to share with you guys my stories and my experiences and to hopefully share with you guys a good message," she said. "And that message is just to please take care of your friends. And especially try to help people in a non-judgmental way. And not everyone is ready for help at all times, but just being there for someone and hopefully being there when they are ready to accept that help can make such a difference in someone's life."