From taking home three titles in the Miss America organization to streaming full-time on Facebook Gaming, Avori Henderson is living proof that following your dreams can yield big results.
Having been a professional model from a young age, Avori began exploring her other passion, video games, through streaming and content creation. Originally starting on Twitch, she made the pivot to Facebook Gaming and hasn’t looked back.
In addition to her modeling and streaming career, Avori continues to break new ground for women in the esports world; she hosted an all-female PUBG tournament in 2019 that raised over $10,000 for various charities, as well as drawing in close to 150,000 unique viewers.
Having recently signed with talent agency Ford Models and also finishing in the FaZe 5’s Top 100 finalists, Avori is looking to continue her exponential growth as a content creator and public figure.
We got to ask Avori a few questions about her career, how she approaches her various passions professionally, and how she can be a role model for women looking to enter the esports and video game sphere. Check it out!
Let’s talk beginnings: you started out as a professional model before getting into gaming and content creation. What originally drew you to modeling as a career?
Avori: I’ve always loved fashion and photography, so my interest in modeling was because I loved the artistic minds in both industries. Being a model is always being a part of a new creation whether it’s clothing design or some type of artistic photography. It always felt good to create something new and interesting with other talented people. For this reason, I have continued my involvement in fashion, photography, and modeling throughout my gaming career.
What are some common misconceptions that people have about modeling? What do you wish people recognized about the grind of making a career out of modeling?
Avori: I feel like a lot of people believe that being pretty makes you eligible to be a model; in reality, it takes true talent and professionalism to make it in the industry. There are very strict standards like height, weight, hair length, nail length and so on, and you could meet all of the physical qualifications for the “industry standard” and still be an unsuccessful model.
Modeling is a lot harder than it looks and requires training, dedication, and hard work, as just a pretty face won’t do! The modeling world actually loves unique and captivating features, not just a cookie cutter “pretty” look.
While gaming had always been a passion of yours, what made you want to start creating content in the gaming sphere?
Avori: I never intended to make a career out of gaming. I was actually just streaming outside of modeling as a pastime to support my fiancé’s lifelong dream of becoming a professional PUBG player (and now he is!) My streaming on the side began to slowly grow and within three months of my career, I made enough money to pay my monthly bills with my gaming income alone.
I then decided to dive in headfirst into the industry which was 100% the best decision of my life! I graduated college only a year later at the age of 20, went full-time gaming and haven’t looked back!
Starting out as a streamer, what kind of environment did you want to create for anyone who tuned into your streams? What values did you wish to see reflected in the community you would eventually build?
Avori: I am a Christian woman but not your typical Christian who may shame or condemn people. I always made it my number one goal to be the source of relief in life and an inviting place for my viewers. I aim to create a safe space for all genders, races, religions, sexes, and sexual orientations to just come be together, laugh, and enjoy gaming.
The gaming community has a very toxic side to it and I noticed this early on in my career, which gave me a huge drive to showcase openness and acceptance for everyone. Since women are pretty excluded, and I’ve felt the feeling of discrimination and exclusion first hand, I never wanted anyone else to feel that way, and so that’s why I created the positive community that I now have!
The gaming community has developed a reputation for a level of toxicity and hostility towards women in the field. While things have begun to improve, there is a long way to go. What challenges did you face when you started diving into gaming and content creation full-time?
Avori: To be honest, I was really oblivious to sexism growing up because I was in pageants and modeling where women are cherished. It was a pretty big culture shock to go from being accepted and cherished to degraded on a daily basis.
I definitely think it affected me a lot in the beginning, but I have now just made it my goal to not let it get to me, and to also to stand up against it in hopes of inspiring other women in the space to follow suit.
Talking about the best and worst: what are some things about the esports and gaming community that you think would make a great selling point to getting more people involved? Conversely, what are some aspects of these communities that you think need to be addressed to make them a more welcoming environment?
Avori: Gaming is for anyone and everyone. It is something that people can do together and relate with each other regardless of where they are from, what language they speak or which God they worship. So it can really bring people together from all around the world and that is a beautiful thing.
On the other hand, there is a community of toxicity and online trolls that enjoy talking down on others simply because they operate under an alias and on the internet, where they rarely have to take responsibility or accountability for their actions.
I think requiring people to sign up for games using their real name and information would likely stop this problem, but it is very unlikely that this will happen.
You hosted an all-female PUBG tournament that drew an incredible amount of viewers and raised significant funds for various charities. How did that idea come about and what was the process like in trying to make that idea come to fruition? Would you like to do something similar for future esports titles?
Avori: Yes! Call of Duty just released custom modes, and my first order of business is to bring back my tournament! We are planning for an event on December 1st to hopefully host a Co-Ed tournament for charity. We are hoping to have 50 men and 50 women competing in it!
I first thought of this concept because I quickly noticed that females were not competing in professional tournaments at the same frequency as their male counterparts. I wanted to create a safe space for women to compete and engage with each other because it seemed that the entire esports scene was dominated by men.
I hope that events like this evens the playing field a bit, and hopefully encourages more women to start getting more involved on a professional level.
You’ve settled on Facebook Gaming as a streaming platform; in recent memory, several notable Twitch streamers have made the switch over to Facebook Gaming. What is it about the platform that makes it so enticing for content creators? What do you wish more viewers from Twitch, YouTube, etc. recognized about what Facebook Gaming has to offer?
Avori: Facebook statistically has the largest reach of any platform. It is because of this, and the ease of use of the platform, that Facebook gaming will likely surpass most other platforms in the future. There are over 2.5 billion active Facebook users compared to Twitch’s 15 million total active user base. This makes potential growth on the platform easier, and more likely to achieve an exponential growth.
On top of this, Facebook seems to truly hands-on approach to supporting and caring about their creators. They truly take the time to ensure that everything is operating properly and to create a safe environment for all of their users. That alone is what makes me want to be on Facebook.
While the world of COVID-19 makes things relatively uncertain, what are some goals you’d like to hit in the near future for your stream and personal brand? What projects are you working on that you’re excited about?
Avori: I am working on revealing a tour soon; but, I cannot release all details so you will just have to stay tuned 😉
Finally, a lot of people have branched out into streaming and making content. What advice would you give to anybody trying to cultivate their own persona and image as a streamer? What do you do to keep your spirits up when morale gets low?
Avori: I would say to do your best, but remember: you can never make everyone happy. Sometimes the internet can enter its most toxic state the moment that you become successful or are finally showing signs of success. Everything you say, do, tweet, can all be twisted by people’s perceptions and opinions so it is important to just try to be the best you that you can be, and to constantly learn and improve from your mistakes.
You will never be perfect, and you will never make everyone happy but as long as your intent is good and your work ethic is steadfast, you will be able to make it through any situation and thrive!
(Questions and answers have been edited for clarity.)