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award ceremony

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TL;DR – WE WON BOTH PEOPLE’S VOICE AND THE JURY’S VOTE FOR BEST SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN. WOO-HOO. Thank you for voting and thanks to BBH Singapore, Facebook Southeast Asia and IKEA Southeast Asia as well as the Webby Jury for making it happen!

Before the party

So for those who know me closely, I sometimes suffer from social/performance anxiety, it stems from growing up the only brown face in a very white place (a.k.a Sweden). Whether it’s performing on stage on Sweden’s Got Talent or 最强大 or just greeting others during holidays and traditions like Tsagaan Sar or Christmas, I will try to find any excuse to get out of it because of an overwhelming feeling of I’LL BE WEIRD AND EVERYONE WILL KNOW. But when I’m finally there, at the party or on that stage, it is as if all the nerves dissipate and I feel immense love and appreciation for everyone no matter how things go. Before the event, it’s all about me and my nerves and during an event it’s all about everyone else and how they are, which is comforting.

Relatable

Before the Webby’s, I was nauseous. For a host of reasons, I was the only person out of the IKEA Human Catalogue crew who could make it. I’d be going to a place where I knew absolutely no one.

I played video games all day in Emilia’s apartment (The Binding of Isaac) and binge-watched episodes of Hot Ones with Sean Evans.

I had low expectations, wore something simple and put light make-up on myself and had no hair stylist. Worst case scenario for the show I’d eat the food, have the drinks and people-watch.

To calm my anxious brain I listened to Jimmy O. Yang’s “How to American” on the subway ride there, it helped a little.

At the red carpet

I arrived at the Wall Street venue in my red heels. Luckily the Jeffrey Campbell’s I got have a big enough heel that the cobblestone streets didn’t hinder me too much from getting Cipriani’s. When I got there I saw Jarrod from photoshoot day and I felt a little better, I knew one nice person at least.

I stood in line for the red carpet and as I was looking around I felt like I was the only one who had arrived alone. I got fidgety and started vlogging for the YouTube’s and as I was vlogging, I saw in the corner of my eye that the next person to walk that carpet was Sean Evans. The guy I had been binge-watching all day! No filter, I waved at him and gestured to ask if I could take a picture of him. He took it as me wanting a selfie, which makes more sense when you think about it.

I asked him to say something in Swedish for my vlogs, he didn’t like that. Either that or he had to go walk the carpet. He had date night vibes, like he couldn’t wait to get out of there because he had a date after the Webby’s or something. Maybe he’s dating Tyra Banks? They had mad vibes during her episode of Hot Ones. I’d be in a rush too if I had a date with Tyra.

ANYWAY.

I got to the red carpet, had my pictures taken, one of the Webby women held the Isabel Marant coat I’d borrowed from Emilia for me, which made me panic in case I forgot to get it back.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 14: Yanjaa Wintersoul attends The 22nd Annual Webby Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on May 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for The Webby Awards)

Opening cocktails

Walked in to the venue and my Gawd. The first party venue I’ve ever been to in the US that hasn’t looked a little sunkigt to the sober eye, Spegelsalen at Grand Hôtel in central Stockholm vibes. Ushuaïa at Ibiza vibes, minus the naked dancers flying through the sky on a dragon-shaped blimp. I usually don’t like club/event parties because venues look a little gross when you’re sober but damn it was pretty.

Tiarra Monet told me my hair was pretty. I took pics with two cool women working on secret fandom stuff for Tumblr, was an honorary member of the purple Wayfair gang.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 14: Mike Demaso, Arpit Gupta, Yanjaa W, Ruben Cagnie, and Ben Violette at The 22nd Annual Webby Awards Opening Cocktails at Cipriani Wall Street on May 14, 2018 in New York City. Photo: Kenny Rodriguez

Award show dinner

After the opening cocktails I went to my table for the award show. I was lucky enough to sit next to fellow Europeans making incredible documentaries like Flint is a Place, two funny dudes from HBO and two women from Google working on VR.

Many of the contemporary women I look up to were there. Mitchell Baker from Mozilla, Kara Swisher, Susan Fowler, Laurie Segall, Naomi Wadler and FKA Twigs all had great speeches. FKA TWigs said her 5-word speech in ASL and Laura Linney said “Kindness is not a weakness”.

Former president of Mexico, David Letterman, Liam Neeson, Adam Sandler, David Chang and the super hot half-Swedish guy from Grey’s Anatomy were all there to get special awards. I learned the Grey’s Anatomy guy’s name is Jesse Williams and he’s actually a super activist, not just a pretty face.

View from where I was sitting…

After party

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 14: A view of the interior at The 22nd Annual Webby Awards After Party at Highline Ballroom on May 14, 2018 in New York City. Photo: Kenny Rodriguez

My bordsherrar Chris, Guillermo, Frederik and I took a cab to the after party where DJ Funkmaster Flex was… flexing? It’s strange seeing all these people you’ve only heard/read about for years from two feet away. THEN JIMMY O. YANG FROM SILICON VALLEY WAS NEXT TO ME BY THE BAR. I fangirled and got a selfie. Screw making authentic connections when you can make things awkward and piedestalize people you might be good friends with otherwise.

I got some advice from April Reign (creator of #OscarSoWhite) and Jamie Broadnax (creator of Black Girl Nerds) during a SXSW Q&A that you shouldn’t take selfies with people you look up to if you want to befriend them. I’ve decided against this advice, it’s much more fun to fangirl.

European gang at the photo booth upstairs
I tried to look cool
Comment if you can find me in this crowd…