by Erin Chew
Over the past year, McDonald’s has been working with a number of Asian American social media personalities, singers and dancers to promote menu items. The advertisements showcase the diversity of Asian America and add to the movement of visibility through positive stereotypes. Recently, McDonald’s is at it again, but this time with social media influencer AtomicMari (Mari Takahashi) in launching space inspired capsule merchandise collection called the “McDonald’s X AtomicMari Collection”.
If you haven’t heard of AtomicMari, you will now. A big name in the gaming world, she is the co-founder of the gaming YouTube channel “Smosh Games”. One of AtomicMari’s passions is encouraging young women to get into gaming and STEM careers, which traditionally are dominated by males. The “McDonald’s X Atomic Mari” collaboration merchandise collection reflects this passion.
I had the opportunity to speak and interview AtomicMari, to learn about who she is, how this collaboration happened and what pushed her to become a gamer and be passionate about STEM careers for women. Firstly, we touched on why she decided to collaborate with McDonald’s as well as understand what parallels does this collaboration has with her work in encouraging young women to take on careers in STEM.
“I like to think that our partnership is a culmination of my work and contribution to the gaming industry and McDonald’s effort to uplift and encourage voices to create a lasting impact,” AtomicMari said. “Being a woman in tech has inspired me to speak about the importance of encouraging young girls to pursue careers in STEM. McDonald’s has not only helped me tell my story, but do so in an engaging, creative, and memorable way.
As AtomicMari states, the most important thing in pushing an agenda/cause like she is – is through storytelling. That is what she aims to do via this huge collaboration. But AtomicMari is not just a “girl in tech” or someone who is passionate about STEM careers. She is a YouTuber, gamer and a social media influencer – career paths which are difficult not just for women, but for women of color/Asian women. I asked her what drove her to pursue these paths.
“I am a ballerina who became an early adopter of creating gaming content on YouTube, who’s stepped foot into space advocacy and education,” AtomicMari said. “I think most people will say that at least two of those things don’t go together! My hope is that my super unconventional career path will encourage young women to go after their dreams, push boundaries, and disrupt the status quo. The AtomicMari x McDonald’s capsule collection is a reflection of that — to shoot for the Moon… and then Mars.”
“I’ve been playing video games since I was a kid, but I never thought I’d work in the industry,” AtomicMari continued. “And similarly, when I started making YouTube content 9 years ago, I didn’t think it would end up becoming my full-time career. I’m continuing to push the boundaries that’s been set before me and past the boundaries I seem to have set for myself. Although I’ve always been interested and fascinated by space, I’ve also always felt intimidated. “
I also asked her about the state of representation of Asian American women in gaming and STEM careers. Is it easy or difficult for Asian American women to rise within the ranks and/or do well if they choose to take any of these career paths?
“We’re under-represented but every path that’s being paved is an opportunity for others to walk alongside and beside you,” AtomicMari said. “Currently, only a quarter of the STEM workforce is female. Encouraging girls to continue pursuing their passion in STEM from an early age is vital to improving that statistic and changing the mold.”
“My experience in gaming and space has been incredibly positive and rewarding — I want to continually encourage those to explore industries their curious about, even if it’s at first intimidating,” she continued. “If I can do it, you can do it.”
As for future collaborations with McDonald’s, AtomicMari enthusiastically states to “stay tuned”. If you are interested in checking out this “McDonanld’s X AtomicMari Collection” you will need to follow her on social media @AtomicMari to find out how to get your hands on them!
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