Whether on TikTok or in gaming, Michael Le is always one step ahead. In less than a decade, the West Palm Beach native has fostered one of TikTok’s most impressive audiences with more than 1 billion likes and 52 million followers. Known for his dancing, gaming and family content, Le has evolved his social media prowess into a career across lifestyle and entertainment. He made a cameo in Spider-Man: Now Way Home, in addition to regularly collaborating with high-profile brands like Ray Bans, Prada and Disney.
On a mission to inspire others, Le has made his own foray into evolving the gaming industry. Last year he launched Joystick with tech entrepreneur Robin DeFay. Flipping the current play-to-earn revenue sharing model, this “gaming ecosystem” empowers gamers by giving players 100 percent of the revenue they generate.
As Joystick hits the one-year mark, Le opened up to Modern Luxury about the company’s future, life as a creative entrepreneur and more.
In your Forbes interview, you said the culture around social media is always changing. How have you maintained and continued to grow your audience in an always evolving industry?
I've always focused on what's next and what's upcoming. Whether it's technology, content or the next social media platform, it’s important to be able to adapt to your surroundings and not think that just because something worked in the past, it’s going to be the case forever. Social media is always changing. What you thought worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. I think it’s important to always be able to evolve, try new things and see what’s exciting and new. That’s how you’re going to stay on top and be able to continue growing with your audience as the industry changes.
@justmaiko back at it again wit the bruddaadc: @notorlandolucas original sound - nickanthony
Since your start, dancing has been a core part of your content. What do you love about dance?
Dance is a universal language. You can dance to any language, you can dance to any beat or any sound and it’s something that anyone in the world can understand. You aren’t limited to just the languages that you know. It’s a freedom of expression that is unique to every single person, which is what I love about dance.
You and your family moved from West Palm Beach to Los Angeles a few years ago. How has being in this city influenced your creativity and career approach?
I think that being in the city with other creators and in the kind of environment where people are striving for the same goal of “making it big” and trying to follow their own dreams and passions has inspired me. When I collab with people, it allows me to peek into how they think and their thought process,which inspires me to create even more and scale up. In that sense, it is a really, really cool feeling to be around so many creatives and this has allowed me to continue pushing myself.
@justmaiko when Denji gets on Aki’s bad side… #chainsawman #kon Excuse me BRUHH - Castro
Your family members are your top co-stars on TikTok. What do you hope your little brothers learn about social media/content creation/ being a public-facing persona from working with you?
I hope that they understand the opportunity. I hope that they learn to figure out their own passions and take advantage of the opportunity of social media as well as technology. I think that a lot of people take that for granted. It’s important to me to be able to show them firsthand how much your life can change, if you take advantage of the opportunities that come to you.
Last year you co-founded Joystick. Taking a moment to honor the name, what was your favorite joystick game as a kid?
Oh, man, when I was a kid, I don't know if I really ever truly played with joysticks, which is actually crazy. You know, I'm a little young for that, but I would say if we're talking about Joy-Cons, the main thing I used to play was Pac-Man and The Galaxy Game— I think it was called Galactica. Those were my main two games.
You define Joystick as a gaming ecosystem, not a gaming platform. What is the difference and why does that help distinguish (and therefore elevate) Joystick in the worlds of gaming and social media?
One of the goals of the Joystick ecosystem is to help teach aspiring creators to make money in the evolving world of content creation and gaming. Not only do we want to help teach creators, but we also plan to host massive events that will create opportunities for gamers and content creators to learn what’s available to them and how to take advantage of every opportunity. I think that’s something that’s really important as Web3 expands, new games release and social media becomes even more competitive. It’s a little bit harder than it was a few years ago now that the market is so saturated, so you always want to be aware of what’s coming next. With Joystick being at the cutting edge of Web3 and the gaming world, we know that we’re at a turning point and that the opportunity is going to be amazing for new creators to hop on board and capitalize on it.
If all goes according to plan, what does 2023 look like for Joystick?
We want Joystick to be the intersection for gamers, content creators and the new companies that are looking for people in this space. We want to be able to have the new games that want the loving players of their ecosystem involved, and I want to be able to connect the players and games and be the bridge.
You’ve said before you never really planned on having a future that involved a 9-to-5 job. How do you set boundaries so that your work doesn't carry over too much in your personal life and that you have time to unwind and unplug?
With social media and the career that I’ve taken on, the hours typically end up being a lot longer than 9-5, but it also doesn’t feel like work to me because I’m so passionate about what I do that it feels more like a hobby or a fun project. In terms of boundaries, it’s more about having a mindset of being able to integrate the two. You don’t necessarily need to separate the two, but if there’s time to be off social media and electronics completely, it would be typically at nighttime when I usually like to spend time with my family away from technology.
From dance to content creation to boxing to entrepreneurship, is there anything you haven’t done that you would like to conquer?
I still feel like social media is something that no one can truly conquer unless you're Mr. Beast, but I would say that I want to get my hands a little bit dirtier in the dance world as well as eSports and Web3 through gaming. Those are the two avenues that I'm truly looking to be more involved in.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: Donovan Okimura