YouTube thumbnail of young Taiwanese women at beach, holding photos, and selfie
Photo courtesy of Julia Ma

Social media influencer and content creator hopes to further her reach with PR degree

Public relations major Julia Ma describes herself as an ailurophile, a logophile and “Trojan Material.” 

With over 500K followers across YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, Ma promotes sustainability and fashion content and collaborates with brands like H&M, Amazon and Apple. 

The Los Angeles native attended the California School of the Arts in Duarte, Calif., where she studied acting. Ma also pursued modeling, which she said not only helped prepare her for life in the spotlight but also showed her the importance of creating advocacy campaigns. 

“Acting and PR are like opposite sides of the coin because they are so different,” she said. “But I started doing social media while I was in high school, and that is what got me interested in choosing PR as my major.”

Ma believes making content has helped her become more confident and engaged with the world around her. 

“I’m excited to be studying PR at USC Annenberg to learn more about brand management, digital marketing and enhance my role as a content creator,” she said. 

You have quite an extensive YouTube, TikTok and Instagram following. How did you get started as an influencer? 

I started on TikTok when it started blowing up in 2019. I was in high school and all of my friends were like, “oh, join this app.” I think I started posting comedy skits, but then I quickly grew tired of that. I moved over to Instagram where I started experimenting with beauty and fashion content and that honestly made my self-confidence and self-esteem go up, which was something I was struggling with before. So I decided that I really liked doing that and then just progressed my channel from there and now I'm doing YouTube as well.

I actually really enjoy doing social media because it's just like another way for me to connect to people all over the world. I've honestly made lifelong friends from it and it's something that I don't wanna give up and will continue to do in college. 

How do you stay truthful and maintain authenticity in this world where everyone sees you?

I think fashion honestly really helped me learn who I was. I just loved posting content for my followers and everything. It got hard at times, especially during school but I am very transparent about mental health and self-confidence. So that's how I like connecting and talking to my community.

Social media is definitely an extremely toxic place where you shouldn't spend too much time. I've encountered a lot of negativity, especially on Instagram from not even girls, from men. This is interesting because my follower base and target audience are mostly female. But I find that people just like to comment with mean things and you just can't take it to heart because at the end of the day, the positives always outweigh the negatives and that's how you have to think.

Why are you studying public relations and what do you plan to do with your degree? 

I really like the connection and socializing aspect of PR. I'm an extreme extrovert and I really just like talking to people and forming relationships. So I thought PR would be the best major where I could really put myself out there and just meet new people.

USC has one of the best public relations departments in the entire country. So I decided that I really wanted to be a part of the Trojan Family after seeing how much my friends loved it as well. I am very excited to take the PR classes because I've heard of how in-depth they go with everything and how many connections you can make to the industry.

I'm not sure if I wanna pursue public relations as my career yet, but I know there are so many things you can do with a PR and advertising degree. So I want to do as many internships as possible and scope it out.

What are you looking forward to during your time at USC?

I'm definitely looking forward to the football games. I went to an art school so we didn't have any sports. It was mostly just art-related things. So I want to go to football games and join a lot of clubs and just be really active in student life. I'm Taiwanese American and I heard that there is a Taiwanese student association. I really want to join that club along with just trying to go to ones that catch my eye on campus.