Creator Mitchell Crawford already has an audience of 3 million followers on TikTok, but it feels like he's just getting started.
Since moving to LA during the pandemic, Mitchell has started working as a full time content creator, comedian, and actor. He's also built a network of creator peers and friends online and IRL and was recently named Head of Community for the newly formed Creator's Guild of America. He's passionate about advocating for creators' mental health and draws from personal experience to help guide creators in finding their community.
Mitchell's energy is incredibly thoughtful and energetic—when we chatted, it was clear that he is genuinely so excited to share what he's learned about community with others creators. Here's the advice he wants to pass along to other creators, and the projects he's working on now that he hopes will help creators for years to come.
Moving to LA: "It was a slow buildup of courage"
Kaitlin Macholz (Beacons): What inspired you to start making content?
Mitchell Crawford: People! The other people around me. I have always had a niche for comedy and impressions, and I was inspired by my family, my friends, and even people I would see on the street. I just wanted the platform to be able to impersonate and emulate their energy.
KM: Was there one experience that you had that was a lightbulb moment, where you said “I have to capture that”?
MC: Yeah, it’s almost a reoccurring experience because so many of my skits are about such distinct characters. One example is my frat boy character, which is a personality I would see over and over—this macho man with a huge ego. I always wanted to poke fun at those people because the character feels so familiar.
KM: What was it like to take the leap to move to LA to pursue creator work and entertainment?
MC: It was terrifying. But I am so happy that I made the jump. It’s terrifying because you are taking a leap of faith and betting on yourself.
There is a certain level of entrepreneurship that comes with chasing your dreams and going after what you want. But it’s really scary. It’s not the most stable job in the world. It’s unpredictable and fast-changing. So it was scary. But it was amazing at the same time.
KM: What was the process? Did you wake up one day and decide “now’s the time”?
MC: It was a slow buildup of courage that I had to build within myself. I had to tell my family! Plus it was during the pandemic. I definitely had to build up the courage to actually make that cross-country move.
KM: Did you already have a network in LA? Or were you starting from scratch?A: I was pretty much starting from scratch, especially in terms of the creator world.
MC: It’s an interesting time to be living in, because even though I was starting from scratch in LA, I wasn’t starting from scratch in my online community. I had built a web of friends online, and some of those webs extended to LA.
Some of those relationships ended up translating to real life too, which is very cool. It’s one of the most mind blowing things sometimes when I’m hanging out with a friend that I met online—just to think, “we really met through TikTok?” It takes me aback because it’s something that only this generation is dealing with. I would have never guessed that some of the closest people in my life would be people that I found through TikTok.
I would have never guessed that some of the closest people in my life would be people that I found through TikTok.
KM: If there are any creators reading this who are thinking “wow, I want to make a move like that”—what would you tell them as advice? What did you wish you knew?
MC: Trust your gut. You know, you only live once! You’ve got one shot. And it’s okay to make mistakes. Sometimes when I make mistakes I take a bow. If you can and you have the opportunity, just do it.
KM: It’s so important to give yourself permission to make mistakes. If you hold yourself to a standard of perfection where you can’t do something unless it’s perfect, you’re never going to do anything!
MC: Yeah, it’s not going to happen. I have had friends and family that hold themselves to that level of perfection. And not only is that extremely stressful, but you have to allow yourself to make mistakes and fail in order to learn. You’ll be better for it.
KM: I got an email this morning that had a quote in it from Mac Miller: “Don't give me the cheat codes. I don't want cheat codes. I want to fail. I want to try things because I want to try them, not because I think they're going to work." I thought that was cool because in the context of being a creator and entrepreneur, there really is no right way to do something.
MC: No, there isn’t—and I think that to even find your groove, it’s going to take a few different approaches. You’ll have to take different paths to find your way to success.
KM: And you probably won’t make something interesting if you’re just following the way that’s prescribed for you.
MC: I feel like I grew up with such a traditional mindset about my trajectory and path for career. But building my creator career was a mixture of trying to pursue what I love and continuously making these leaps of faith into relationships, into business, and into content. It’s all trial and error.
And, I think a really key piece of advice is to learn how to pivot.
Creator mental health: "Find your therapy"
KM: I want to shift a little to talk about mental health for creators, which I know is really important to you. Are there any mental health resources that you rely on yourself or you’ve heard other creators recommend?
MC: I think the best way to answer that question from a creator to a creator is to say that you need to be able to find and confide in another creator. Because I think in this big creator economy, whether you’re going through sometime positive or negative, someone out there may be having a similar experience.
I think that the most comfort I’ve felt in this industry is from other creators that are experiencing what I’m experiencing—taking the same leaps, doing the same jobs, and trying to creator content. So as far as mental health goes, my advice is to find your community of creators.
I think that the most comfort I’ve felt in this industry is from other creators that are experiencing what I’m experiencing.
It’s also such a niche world. As creators, we have to find our own niches, and build our success. It’s hard to talk about, so bonding with another creator who understands the unique challenges you’re facing is amazing.
KM: Yes, and working in the creator industry is a whole lifestyle as well. It’s very new—there are a lot of questions that are still unanswered.
MC: Yes, there are. A lot of people are trying to navigate the space and figure it out alongside these new creators. So it’s great to have someone to figure it out with together.
KM: Do you personally have anything you do to take care of your mental health while working in this industry?
MC: Yes, I would give the advice to find your therapy. That could be a range of things—exercise, meditation, wellness—just find a space where you can come back to you. Find a safe space and create peace in your own home or with others.
KM: For you, does that look like having a routine that gives you stability? Or does it look more like allowing yourself flexibility and spontaneity?
MC: Something I do every day that is an accomplishment for me is getting up and making my bed. That is the one thing I can rely on doing every day. Sometimes the hardest part of the day is just getting up and doing that small routine, but starting the day off strong gives you a solid foundation to build on.
KM: If you know that you’ve already done something that’s productive and good for you, it’s easier to bring some structure to the rest of your day.
MC: Yes, it is. And often, I’m focused on getting 1% better every day. I try to keep in mind that I’m playing a longer game rather than a short-term one. Sometimes I just have to remind myself to take things day by day to keep it from feeling overwhelming.
I’m focused on getting 1% better every day.
KM: What are your most important habits that help you reach your goals?
MC: Structure plays a big role in my life. One of the most helpful habits I have is writing on my whiteboard. I have this whiteboard in my home which is amazing because I can brainstorm all I want with an expo marker and an eraser.
I also have a weekly calendar where I can write things down, and a creative journal to write down my ideas. I keep up with Google Calendar and things like that, but having the physical items to ground me in my reality each week really helps too.
Creator's Guild of America: "It's going to be a home for creators"
KM: I know you’ve recently become very involved with the Creators Guild of America. Can you talk more about what CGA is and how it will help creators?
MC: Yes! The CGA is the first official nonprofit organization that protects and promotes the interests of digital creators. Our mission is to empower digital creators with resources, recognition, and community to maximize their creative and financial endeavors.
KM: What is it about CGA that excites you most?
MC: I love what we’re building. And I love the people that are on my team. And I’ve never really been involved in a business or a guild like this. I’m also young and I know that what we’re building will be something that is helpful for generations to come and it’s exciting that we’re building the framework and foundation for an organization like this.
We’re putting love first and putting community first. I really respect our founder [Daniel Abas], and to see him build this amazing Christmas tree while we’re all trying to help plug things in and turn the lights on is so cool.
We’re putting love first and putting community first.
KM: It sounds like the CGA is going to be a really big deal for creators in a permanent and long-lasting way.
MC: Yes—it’s going to be a home for them.
For example, when I moved out to Los Angeles, one thing I really needed was community. I was searching for someone who was going to understand me and what I do, understand my passions. Now as Head of Community for the CGA I hope that I am able to curate a home for creators to answer their questions and be a resource for them.
KM: What are you most excited about right now?
MC: It’s this question! I am excited about the Creators Guild of America. And I’m excited about the future of Beacons. I’m excited to be talking with you now.
MC: I have a quote that I want to share that my friend Fatima showed me:
Diamonds are formed under immense pressure. And bread rises when you let it rest. (source)
Sometimes you have to be one, and knowing the difference between your diamond era and your bread era is very important.
So to answer your question, I feel like I am a piece of bread right now and I am resting to rise. I am excited for my next creative inspiration to strike. I am excited to do my next project, even though I may not know exactly what that looks like right now.
KM: I like the idea that everyone has that duality. Everyone can have a diamond era and a bread era and you don’t need to define yourself as the type of person who is one thing or another and put yourself in a box.
MC: Exactly! Ask yourself… are you in your diamond era or your bread era?
On creativity: "Sometimes you have to be a loaf of bread"
KM: What about your challenges that you’ve overcome? What is the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn as a creator?
MC: Being okay with how it happens. You can’t force creativity.
It’s such a frustrating reality. Being a creator, what I choose to put out into the world is art. And you just can’t force that, as much as you want to. There have been some months where I am more productive than others, but as someone who truly cares about what I post and put out to my audience, I can’t force it.
I have to continuously soak up the world around me and focus on what inspires me. I try to focus on the people around me, because people are what got me started! I loved watching others and wanted to spread humor, create comedy, be original, and be genuine. It just has to come to you as an artist.
Being okay with how it happens. You can’t force creativity.
KM: It’s definitely a tough thing to internalize because our world is so focused on productivity and efficiency.
MC: There is. And sometimes you just have to sit and do nothing. You have to be a loaf of bread!
The same friend who introduced that quote to me was going through a tough time. She felt like she needed to be doing a million things, and it wasn’t until she told herself to just stop and do nothing that she felt inspired and slowly rose—there comes the analogy again.
I also read a great book called Steal Like an Artist that I think relates to this idea of not forcing creativity. The word steal throws me off because there are often controversies online on TikTok of creators actually stealing other people’s ideas and trying to pass them off as their own, which isn’t what I’m talking about. I mean the idea of drawing inspiration from everyday life and forming it into your own creation and putting that out into the world.
This is what is valuable and what I try to cultivate with all my work: creating content, building CGA, and evolving a brighter future for all creators.