Michael Le AKA “JustMaiko” Talks Rise to TikTok Fame, Web3 Education and Advice for AAPI Creators
Michael Le, also known as JustMaiko, has captivated audiences as one of TikTok’s most influential creators. From his beginnings as a dancer to his foray into Web3 and self-love advocacy, Le’s journey embodies the power of passion and authenticity.
Le’s rise began in 2012 as a dancer with aspirations fueled by watching OG YouTubers turn their passions into careers. In 2015, he ventured into content creation, sharing dance videos on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Musical.ly. “I started off as a dancer back in 2012 and had big aspirations to start on social media after watching some OG YouTubers create a career out of doing what they love,” said Le. As TikTok exploded in 2019, “I was one of the first creators to take advantage of the new algorithm. Starting in week one, I gained 1 million new followers every week, and about a year later, I had around 50 million followers.”
Driven by his belief in self-love, Le launched the Shluv brand. Through “shluv,” he encourages individuals to embrace and celebrate their true selves. “I have always known that I needed to believe in and love myself for who I was if I truly wanted to make this a career for myself,” says the Joystick founder. “So, being able to share that message of self-love, or ‘shluv,’ has been incredibly important to me.”
Le’s curiosity led him to explore Web3 and NFTs. Inspired by entrepreneur Gary Vee, he understood the importance of staying educated on emerging technologies. This knowledge allows him to seize new opportunities and remain ahead of the curve. Combining his passion for gaming and Web3, Le founded Joystick, an innovative gaming and esports platform. “I firmly believe that we are diligently focused on building a more accessible route to becoming a successful gamer and entrepreneur.” Joystick aims to provide aspiring gamers and entrepreneurs with accessible routes to success, pioneering the industry’s future.
Finding a balance between content creation and exploring Web3 is a challenge Le navigates diligently. He dedicates the majority of his time to creating content for social media and dance, allocating a smaller portion to Web3 to maximize his impact in both realms.
Le’s journey reached new heights with his involvement in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Being a fan of the franchise since childhood, the experience was a dream come true, allowing him to contribute to a series that shaped his artistic vision. Le acknowledges the influential role of his family throughout his career. ” have been a huge fan of the franchise since I was a little kid, playing all the games and reading the comic books.” Sharing moments of joy and accomplishments with loved ones has been a cherished aspect of his journey. “I will never be able to fully express the magnitude of this experience.”
As an Asian creator, Le has faced challenges stemming from stereotypes and assumptions. Despite this, he remains focused on what he can control and strives to forge authentic connections with his audience, making a meaningful impact. Looking ahead, Le is excited about his upcoming projects, particularly his YouTube channel. With unwavering dedication, he aims to become one of the world’s leading dance creators, pushing the boundaries of his craft.
Michael Le’s journey from TikTok stardom to his ventures in Web3, self-love advocacy, and involvement in the “Spider-Man” franchise showcases his exceptional talent and entrepreneurial spirit. As he continues to inspire millions, Le serves as an inspiration and role model for aspiring creators worldwide.
Can you tell us about your journey becoming one of the most influential creators on TikTok? I started off as a dancer back in 2012 and had big aspirations to start on social media after watching some OG YouTubers create a career out of doing what they love. Fast forward to 2015, I decided to go all in on content creation, posting dance videos on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Musical.ly. As time progressed, I got better and better as a dancer, as well as an all-around director, editor, and videographer. This allowed me to make a career for myself. By 2019, TikTok had blown up, and I was one of the first creators to take advantage of the new algorithm. Starting in week one, I gained 1 million new followers every week, and about a year later, I had around 50 million followers.
What inspired you to create the Shluv brand and promote self-love? I believe it was always my initial idea and message to inspire others to follow their dreams, and I firmly believe that it takes a lot of guts and a strong belief in yourself to do something that is not the norm. I have always known that I needed to believe in and love myself for who I was if I truly wanted to make this a career for myself. So, being able to share that message of self-love, or “shluv,” has been incredibly important to me.
How did you become interested in Web3 and NFTs, and why do you believe it’s important to educate your community about this? I became interested in Web3 and NFTs a couple years back and it was all thanks to Gary Vee. I was a big fan of new technology and where the Internet was going to take us so I was all in on listening to what this new technology would entail. I believe that staying educated on the latest tech is crucial to stay ahead of the curve and seize new opportunities that may arise. You never know what could be the next big thing, so being aware at the very least is the minimum requirement for success.
What motivated you to launch Joystick, and how does it differ from other gaming and esports platforms? My motivation stemmed from my love for Web3 and gaming, which truly opened my eyes to the immense potential that this new technology, combined with my passion for gaming, holds. Even though it is still in its early stages, I wanted to create something that could stand the test of time, pioneering a path for new gamers and those who want to seize the opportunities available. I firmly believe that we are diligently focused on building a more accessible route to becoming a successful gamer and entrepreneur. I sincerely hope that people recognize and pay attention to our efforts, and that it ultimately pays off for everyone involved.
How do you balance creating content for social media with your other passion for Web3/NFTs? Currently, I am dedicating almost 90% of my time to my twin passions for social media and the dance, with the remaining 10% allocated to Web3. I think paying attention to the market and just waiting for the right opportunity to go all in is the key here.
What is your vision for the future of Web3, and how do you see it evolving? I think the future of Web3 is going to be super important because of the technology of scamming. As the days go by, faking is becoming so much more realistic. I think it’s really important to utilize the technology that Web3 has to offer.
Can you tell us about your experience working on the set of “Spider-Man: No Way Home?” Working on the set of Spider-Man was an absolute dream come true. I have been a huge fan of the franchise since I was a little kid, playing all the games and reading the comic books. So, to be a part of a movie that featured all three iconic actors representing who Spider-Man was is something indescribable. I will never be able to fully express the magnitude of this experience.
How has your family influenced your career and creative endeavors? My family has had an incredible impact on my journey beyond recognition. It has been truly amazing to share opportunities with them and create joyful moments and days where I could simply have fun with my siblings, dancing together or playing video games, and have it count as work. It’s something I never anticipated when I first started, but I will always be grateful for it.
Can you talk about any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re excited about? I honestly think my YouTube channel is the biggest thing I’m most excited about. I am dedicating a significant amount of time, money, and energy into creating unique ideas that have never been seen before. My goal is to become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, dance creator in the world. I firmly believe that with hard work and executing the ideas I have, it is genuinely possible.
You’re on the cover of The Contrast Man. What do you think defines a “man?” I think a man to me is someone who can stand up for what is right, protect themselves and those around them, take accountability, and be aware of their emotions.
The definition of Contrast is “to be strikingly different.” What makes Michael Le strikingly different? I believe it’s my persistence and consistency in always wanting to do better that drives me. I strive to push myself and others to never settle for anything less than what we deserve. Anyone can have big dreams, but it takes a special and disciplined person to pursue and work on those dreams every single day, day in and day out.