“Seeing strong and powerful Asian women is rare, and I want to break that barrier.”

Michelle Khare is a YouTuber and content producer. Previously of BuzzFeed, Khare is best known for her “extreme challenge” videos that combine her athleticism with compelling content.

You may recognize Michelle Khare from BuzzFeed, where she starred in videos training for the NFL and for Cirque Du Soleil, or her independent YouTube channel, where more than 1.3 million subscribers tune in to watch her complete marine bootcamp or finish diet challenges.

When Michelle launched her own channel two years ago, she wanted it to be a place for compelling and inspiring stories that also raise social issues. In her “Becoming a Runway Model at 5’2”” challenge, she discusses whether beauty pageants empower women or if they facilitate sexism. By creating content that opens the door to dialogue, Michelle hopes to empower her audience while entertaining them.

Michelle’s journey began in a small town in Louisiana, where she grew up nursing big dreams of making it in the entertainment industry as on-camera talent and as a content producer. Caving to the pressure of a more concrete path in life, she attended Dartmouth College to pursue a career in tech start-ups, which felt adjacent to entertainment, and spent her summers doing internships at Google and DreamWorks. The risk of going after what she wanted just felt too big.

But when she heard about a job opportunity to be a full-time content producer for BuzzFeed, Michelle decided to just go for it. Working at BuzzFeed felt like it was the best of both worlds: a stable job while creating videos. For the next two-and-a-half years, life was a whirlwind for Michelle. Because she was a professional cyclist, a typical day started with training at 5 a.m. before going into the office to pitch ideas for videos, prep shoots and film. Weekends were spent out of town, traveling the world for cycling races. With such a full schedule, Michelle knew there had to be a better way to do things — so she eventually began combining the two things she loved, her athleticism and video content. She stopped cycling and created extreme Buzzfeed videos that challenged her both mentally and physically, like “Women Tried the NFL Combine,” or “We Trained Like Professional Dancers for a Month.”

Like other BuzzFeed vets, Michelle garnered quite a following on the platform, but ultimately made the decision to move on. Her decision to leave the viral content factory wasn’t an easy one, but she knew that she wanted to take things further and rise to the challenge of producing her content independently.

With the lack of diverse representation of AAPI women in mainstream media, Michelle understands the importance of her visibility. It’s uncommon to see Asian American women doing the things she does on her channel. “A lot of people don’t think South Asian representation is important because Bollywood exists,” she said. But “that doesn’t represent me or who I am, and I feel that every person deserves to be on every stage.”

What’s on the horizon for Michelle now? “My ultimate goal is to be in action movies,” she says, “Seeing strong and powerful Asian women is rare, and I want to break that barrier.”

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