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Each year, creators in the interactive, music, film and other industries typically convene at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas. In 2020, SXSW has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, leaving marketers with questions about how to launch their products and services virtually. These influencers are well known among the community that frequents SXSW and could be an option for online promotions and reviews.


Mariana van Zeller has been honored with a DuPont Award, Peabody Award, Emmy nomination and additional awards for her investigative journalism. She is currently a correspondent with National Geographic.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Featured Session: Nat Geo Storytellers: Exploration Unleashed
  • Social Media: Instagram marianavz (10.1K), Twitter @MarianaVZ (11.5K), LinkedIn mariana-van-zeller-4aa89774

Ronan Donovan, also with National Geographic, taught himself photography and filmmaking as he traveled the world as a field biologist. He uses visual storytelling to impassion others to conserve wild animals and wild places.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Featured Session: Nat Geo Storytellers: Exploration Unleashed
  • Social Media: Instagram ronan_donovan (358K), Facebook ronan.donovan.35 (3.3K), Vimeo ronandonovan (51), LinkedIn ronandonovan


Sophie Hawley-Weld is half of the Grammy-nominated music duo SOFI TUCKER, along with Tucker Halpern. She and Halpern are also passionate activists who use their music to raise awareness for various causes, foster community and support equality.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Featured Session: The Intersection of Music, Business & Alcohol
  • Social Media: Instagram sophiesistermoon (41.8K), Facebook (3.1K)

Visual Arts

Zach Lieberman creates art using code, focusing on how poetry can be created using computation. He’s a co-creator for the School of Poetic Computation and builds experimental drawing and animation tools.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): SXSW Art Program Presents ARTECHOUSE: Future Sketches
  • Social Media: Instagram zach.lieberman (143K), Twitter @zachlieberman (37.9K)

Tara McPherson is named the crown princess of poster art by ELLE Magazine with A-list clients like Sony, Microsoft, DC Comics, Pepsi and many more. Her celebrated artwork includes fine art, illustrations, sculpture and monographs.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Flatstock exhibitor
  • Social Media: Facebook taramcpherson (369K), Instagram taramcpherson (135K), Twitter @TaraMcPherson (36.4K)


Yoichi Ochiai is an associate professor and head of Digital Nature Group at University of Tsukuba, Japan. He’s a media artist with expertise in CG, VR, HCI, digital fabrications and autonomous driving and body control.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Geo-Technologies Based on Local DNA and Philosophy
  • Social Media: Twitter @ochyai (398.9K), Instagram ochyai (59.3K)

Jerry Saltz is a Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism and a senior art critic at New York Magazine. He’s considered a prominent voice within the art world.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Featured Session: How To Be an Artist; Or At Least Live Life More Creatively
  • Social Media: Instagram jerrysaltz (390K), Facebook jerry.saltz (92.3K), LinkedIn jerry-saltz-a298b7115.


Jack Pattillo is a gamer, philanthropist, voice actor, entrepreneur and LEGO stop-motion artist. He’s a senior producer at Rooster Teeth and an integral part of its annual Extra Life fundraiser for Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Level Up Your Company Culture with Extra Life
  • Social Media: Twitter @jack_p (440.4K), YouTube Monki5225 (103K), Twitch jackpattillo (96.1K), Instagram jackpattillo (90K), Facebook jackpattillo (25.3K)

Cecilia D’Anastasio is a staff writer for WIRED who reports on gaming culture, esports, tech, anime and digital labor. She often immerses herself into virtual worlds to investigate issues that include cybercrime and online streaming culture.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): The Reality of Labor in Gaming Entertainment
  • Social Media: Twitter @cecianasta (17.5K), Discord Cecianasta#9946

Media & Journalism

Hannah Berner interviews influencers and celebrities about their insecurities, fears and mental health issues on her podcast Berning in Hell. She also tours the country doing comedy shows and is a cast member on Bravo TV’s “Summer House.”

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): The Truth About Reality TV and Mental Health
  • Social Media: Instagram beingbernz (205K), Twitter @beingbernz (29.2K), LinkedIn hberner, Facebook officialhannahberner (899)

Jim Kwik teaches how to use the brain to its full potential and is a leader in memory and speed-reading training. He focuses on mastering information overload, improving memory and learning faster.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): How Journalists Can Remember Anything; Jim Kwik Book Signing
  • Social Media: Instagram jimkwik (863K), Facebook KwikLearning (118K), Twitter @KwikLearning (47.7K), LinkedIn jimkwik

Health & Medtech

Dr. Amy Meyers is a two-time New York Times best-selling author and functional medicine physician. Instead of relying on conventional medicine, she seeks out the environmental root causes of chronic illnesses, such as stress, diet, toxins, infections and gut health.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Wellness Expo exhibitor
  • Social Media: Pinterest amymyersmd (482.8K), Facebook AmyMyersMD (197.5K), Instagram amymyersmd (91.2K), YouTube AmyMyersMD (22.7K), Twitter @AmyMyersMD (21.6K)

Max Lugavere is a health and science journalist, filmmaker, speaker, New York Times best-selling author and host of the podcast “The Genius Life.” He shares evidence-based principles of neurogenerative disease prevention, healthy aging and cognitive performance.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): The Genius Life Podcast with Max Lugavere and Molly Maloof
  • Social Media: Instagram maxlugavere (358K), Facebook MaxLugavere (62K), YouTube maxlugavere (17.2K)

Government & Politics

W. Kamau Bell is a socio-political comedian who’s been nominated for multiple NAACP Image Awards and is host to a CNN Emmy Award winning docu-series. The title of his book describes him best. It’s “The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian.”

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Featured Session: Big Brother Is Racist: Surveillance vs. Persons of Color
  • Social Media: Twitter @wkamaubell (311.9K), Instagram wkamaubell (114K), Facebook wkamaubellofficial (97K)

Leah Frances Greenberg and her husband Ezra Levin are co-creators of The Indivisible Project, a grassroots movement to rebuild US democracy and combat the Trump agenda. She’s a former Capitol Hill staffer, has managed human trafficking grants and programs and is one of TIME 100’s Most Influential People of 2019.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Democracy after Trump: A Look Ahead with the Founders of the Indivisible Movement; Leah Greenberg & Ezra Levin Book Signing
  • Social Media: Twitter @Leahgreenb (45.3K)


James Blake is a former professional tennis player, New York Times Best-Selling author. He’s also a TV analyst, activist and philanthropist and was named the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year in 2008.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Reinventing Tennis: Insights, Experience, Inclusion
  • Social Media: Twitter @JRBlake (25K), Facebook jamesblakeofficial (5.6K)

Emma Lovewell is a Peloton senior instructor, personal trainer, former dancer and founder of Live Learn Lovewell blog. She advocates for a well-balanced life through movement, sweat and healthy food.

  • SXSW 2020 (cancelled): Creating Safe Spaces: Self-Empowerment Is a Team Sport
  • Social Media: Instagram emmalovewell (115K), Facebook emmalovewellpeloton (27.2K), Twitter @emmalovewell (6.8K), YouTube EmmaLovewell (222)

While SXSW may be cancelled, influencers like these could help your brand gain much needed online exposure at a time when social media consumption is expected to grow significantly. To find more influencers like these, reach out to IZEA.