Photo © Meta

Yellow beanies, wire-rimmed glasses and platinum white hair are just some of the ways the women in our second Metaverse Culture Series experience represented themselves as avatars. Meta’s Chief Diversity Officer Maxine Williams sat with five female VR creators in Horizon Workrooms to discuss how their work and creative vision are shaping the future of the metaverse today, including Ang’l Artiste, Candice Houtekier, Mary Matheson, Mary Spio and Michaela Ternasky-Holland. Using immersive technologies to create art, build community and conduct business, these innovators are paving a path for other women around the world to explore what’s possible as we build toward the metaverse.

Tips for Getting Started as a Creator in VR

The panelists shared tips for how other women can start exploring immersive technology:

  1. Find your passion: Think about what you want to change in the physical world and channel it into the digital reality. 
  2. Join VR communities for women online: Seek out advice and resources from other women through online communities like forums and Facebook groups.
  3. Get inspired: Immerse yourself in other creators’ work. Check out our list of inspiring women VR creators.
  4. Come as you are: You don’t have to be technical to create — just get started. You can start with Wi-Fi and a laptop.

Meet the Women

Ang’l Artiste, Artist and VR Creator

Ang’l Artiste is a mother, artist and Horizon Worlds creator in Brooklyn, NY. When she’s not painting or designing tattoos, Ang’l is hosting exhibitions in her virtual Black art museum and sculpting in VR. She grew up playing Nintendo and Sims, so Horizon Worlds was a dream come true. Ang’l has felt uplifted by the Horizon Worlds community. As someone who’s struggled with social anxiety her entire life, networking in immersive spaces has built up her courage to approach new people and grow as a successful businesswoman.

Candice Houtekier, Founder and Director, Art Collision

Born and raised in France, Candice Houtekier is the founder of Art Collision, a Toronto-based creative studio that helps organizations install art exhibitions and hosts events in VR. She has transformed the international art market by bringing artists and collectors into new realities. Because she imagines every industry to be in the metaverse in the future, she envisions a healthy ecosystem where all businesses can thrive. She hopes that the metaverse will become synchronized to financial systems so businesses and creators can sell virtual goods more easily.

Mary Matheson, VR Creator and Film Director

Mary Matheson is a British director who incorporates 3D environments into her documentaries to bring the audience a step deeper into the story. She co-creates with the protagonists themselves to ensure they feel represented properly. May is the lead director of the 10-part 360° New Realities VR Series 10 Young Women 10 Countries, which explores the stories of young female activists. While Mary is still often the only female on a male-donimated set, she’s determined to lift other women up in the metaverse and set more equitable ground rules. Mary will help raise the next generation of immersive creators as a professor at Arizona State University’s new Center for Narrative and Emerging Media in Los Angeles.

Mary Spio, Founder and CEO, CEEK

Space engineer and Founder of CEEK Mary Spio grew up in Ghana during a tumultuous time and escaped the chaos by watching space exploration on TV. Several years ago, when Mary first put on an Oculus headset as a space engineer, she was brought back to her childhood and wanted to give others the same sensory experience. Her dream was to see concerts and sports events through this new lens, so she founded CEEK, a metaverse platform for entertainment featuring Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato and more. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mary was moved by how many frontline workers and cancer patients in hospitals used CEEK to watch concerts and practice mindfulness. With the rules of the metaverse being written right now, she finds this is the perfect time for women to join.

Michaela Ternasky-Holland, VR Creative Storyteller

Michaela Ternasky-Holland has always been an immersive storyteller, from dancing to working for amusement parks. When she discovered metaverse technologies as a journalist, she was excited to blend various mediums together and experiment with extended reality (XR) storytelling. Michaela uses immersive technology to collaborate with people from all backgrounds to tell socially impactful stories in an authentic way. Her most unexpected experience in VR was CARNE y ARENA, an installation of the world of immigrants crossing the border from Mexico into the US. Michaela felt the sand between her toes and the wind of the helicopter above her — with her senses heightened, she felt the freedom to truly connect with the refugees’ stories.

Watch the full conversation on Facebook and YouTube. Stay tuned for more Metaverse Culture Series experiences rolling out during cultural moments throughout the year. These will showcase how we’re building towards a more equitable future of technology, and supporting the diverse creators pioneering in this space.