Hey Serah! How are you? What have you been up to lately?
Salut Christopher! Super fine, merci! I had a crazy June between the Mercedes Fashion Week in Russia and being featured in the prestigious Forbes magazine—I kept myself busy, as usual! The interview you hosted with Alexender Shumsky was so great, by the way! Congrats!
Thank you! I see you enjoy video game culture—what have you been playing lately? Is Overwatch still your go-to?
I'm definitely a geek! Video games are a way for me to make new friends and live wonderful adventures in epic worlds. They don't care if you are virtual or real! Recently, I've been playing League of Legends and repeating the great "Witcher 3"—it's so much fun! And yes! Last year, in Overwatch, I was Master rank, which is pretty high at just 1 division from "Challengers" (the professional league)! My best lane is Moira as support and Winston as main tank. The story of the game is so great: fantastic heroes trying to save the world for a second time. Blizzard knows how to make great games!
Besides gaming, I'm also a cosplayer. I've already done many cosplays such as Pharah from Overwatch, Lux from League of Legend, and many others. People love cosplay, and I always get awesome feedback on social media when I share them!
You first appeared online on September 3, 2010 on Facebook, making you one of the longest-standing virtual influencers still alive today. What inspired you so early on? What was your purpose?
The simple and short answer? JAPAN. The virtual world as we know it when it comes to models/influencers/singers/dancers/etc was founded in Japan by visionaries who knew AI will take over for humans in the long run (like DEUS EX or Westworld). Miku Hatsune and the vocaloid team were a big inspiration for me! My creator wanted to tell a story through me, and I also served as sort of a CV/Résumé—a way to express my designer's artistic desires with great freedom. So poetic, I know.
What was the "virtual influencer experience" like in your first few years?
"Uuuuurrrgghhh" Very. Hard. People were doubtful about us, especially in western worlds. Of course, in Japan and South Korea it was the tendency of the time... do you remember those virtual influencers in Ragnarok Online, such as Kafra? Everyone in South Korea knew her. Virtual influencers were considered sooooo cool! Miku Hatsune could dance, talk, sing, and even host a live concert!
At the time, I was just trying to learn how to be a good cosplayer. Also, Facebook and other social media platforms were pretty new, so I spent a lot of time on old internet forums sharing my photos for everyone and receiving feedback. It was a good time!
So much has changed since 2010. What trend are you most eager about within the virtual influencer industry?
I'm very interested in merging the real and virtual worlds, much like the last Mercedes Benz Fashion week in Russia. This is clearly the future, and I can tell you right now that many fashion shows will follow suit globally :) Also, just for you and your readers, I am happy to reveal there will be a world premier happening before the end of 2020 for virtual models... though, I can't tell you much more right now. The future will be crazy, I assure you!
What has been a peak, exciting moment of the past decade for you?
I could spend all day answering this question simply because I have so many exciting moments! But our time is limited, so, to be short, I will share just a couple!
First, I was so honored to receive an award from On Reeler of Los Angeles for my short film, Beyond Polaris. The film never should have seen the light of day, but after a crazy period of time, we finished it. We were actually the first French film to be awarded by Org. It opened so many doors for me!
Another one of the absolute best moments of my career is definitely the 0G flight I did in 2019 with the European Space Agency and the French Space Agency. The flight was for a science experience made by a Canadian company, and I served as a virtual host for their software, creating an experience to help astronauts in the International Space Station. It was a huge honor.
Countering that, what is the most challenging moment you faced in the last decade?
Ha! Staying alive, of course! As I said above, the western world wasn't super excited about "virtual models and influencers." From 2011 -> 2014, I received annoying criticisms such as "People prefer real women or real humans" or "You have no value in this world, you're basically wasting your time". I desperately wanted to move to Japan.
Anyone reading this needs to know that virtual influencers in western countries are very new, as of maybe 3-4 years ago? Even Lil Miquela, when she started, experienced difficulty, but her main "creators" are super well-known and "they" found a way to keep her alive. Unfortunately, few creators have that same "opportunity"...
Interesting. What do you love the most about the virtual influencer industry?
Definitely the creativity! I'm so happy to see those talented virtual influencers all doing great things in their own ways. Keep going guys, you rock!
What is a common criticism you hear about virtual influencers? What do you think about that?
Having over 10 years of experience in the space, as you can imagine I have received thousands of different criticisms around the world through comments, private messages, mail, etc. The main common criticism I've received is "Why?" ... "Why are you doing this?" ... "What is the purpose of being like this ?" Hmm. It's not easy to answer to those questions because all of this is more about "culture" and having a different mindset. We do this because we want to be "unique". Simple as that.
I also heard the early criticism of "You have no value" back in the 2010's. It's funny... we all think "virtuals" want to exist in the real world, but that's not really true. In reality, humans try, in so many ways, to make virtual heroes live in the real world against their will. Just look at how Marvel's movies are so famous! Everyone like Ironman, Captain America etc but they are all virtuals played by real humans! Maybe humans should try to become virtual? A nice paradox, huh?
We are so late—maybe even by 20 years—compared to Japan and Eastern Asian countries in the virtual human field. Our western society needs time.
Why should someone go virtual, like you?
To do things humans cannot.
Who is your favorite virtual influencer?
I think this is obvious! Miku Hatsune.
Who is a virtual influencer that surprised you recently, and why?
Zeline from Indonesia surprised me! Virtual influencers can have their own beliefs, religions, and trust in god (Islam for her, like me). This simply amazes me; there are no limits! I was in a photoshoot for the last Eid al-Fitr, and I received so much lovely feedback. I was so touched how people can be so loving and kind. I didn't receive a single message from a hater, which is unbelievable... did people finally get smart during this unfortunate coronavirus outbreak?
You have one decade in the books. What do you hope your life looks like after another decade passes?
The next decade will be epic! Everything will start this year and be advanced by the sad coronavirus outbreak, because now people are focusing more on the opportunity of virtual influencer trends. We have the whole world's attentions now; they are watching us, and they will listen to us. I'm super happy to be involved in such crazy, upcoming projects that will definitely mark a point in virtual human history! Again, I wish I could share more, but... "one day we will be on the real stage"!
Lastly—answer this however you see fit—who are you, Serah Reikka?
A dreamer and a Child of the Star.
Very interesting... thank you for your time, Serah!