Being a professional gamer isn’t all fun and games, it takes precision, patience and skill. Avori Henderson, model and former pageant participant, has become a pioneer for women in the gaming world. Think streaming online while thousands watch you play games is hard? Try transitioning from full-time model to full-time gamer. She has not only embraced the male-dominated space, but uses her vast platform to encourage and empower women who love to game, as well. If that doesn’t impress you on its own, finding out she ran the first ever all-female PUBG Tournament that was professionally broadcasted should peak your interest. Henderson is making some positive waves, to say the least!
So who says girls can’t game and change the world? People who are totally wrong, of course. Henderson has made a career out of streaming, and although she undoubtedly faces more challenges than her male-counterparts– she takes it all in stride. She not only focuses her energy on honing her skills, but has worked for months on a clothing line, as well as a campaign to give back to the #blacklivesmatter movement.
Henderson talks to FANDOMIZE about her love of streaming, “Style by Avori” and discusses organizations that she’s passionate about.
MCKENZIE MORRELL: You’ve made a name for yourself in a male-dominated industry as a professional gamer. That’s no small feat. Where did your love for gaming stem from? Tell us about your origin story…
AVORI HENDERSON: Honestly I was never a gamer before I tried PC PUBG. The game reminded me a lot of my favorite book as a child, The Hunger Games, and I just fell in love with learning how to excel past the “average gamer” skill set. I started uploading small bits of my gameplay online and my fan base grew very quickly. I definitely wasn’t expecting it but I’m so happy it happened!
MM: You have taken on this role of encouraging and empowering women not only in E-Sports but others as well, did you ever feel a sense of responsibility or pressure to work hard and advocate for women in gaming (or in general)?
AH: Of course! When you are passionate about something there is always pressure to perform. Unfortunately, most of that pressure is put on me by myself! I don’t have to do any of the extra things in my career that I do, but it makes me happy to do extra charity projects and to work hard encouraging women. I don’t see many others doing so, so I put the pressure on myself to be the one to make a difference.
MM: You have also used your following to raise money for worthy causes. Can you tell us what organizations you’re passionate about and perhaps how the readers can help in your endeavors?
AH: Yes! When I was 14 I lost a friend to cancer. She was diagnosed and within a year she was gone. That was my first experience with the severity of cancer and since then every person I’ve met in my life has been affected by cancer as well. From a very young age I noticed the importance of finding a cure and better treatment plans for this awful illness. When I found FredHutch, I fell in love with their team, the way they help others, and the way they strive for the health of our loved ones. They deserve so much more funding than I could ever give and I know they are making huge moves not only to find a cure for cancer, but also to help our current situation with COVID-19.
MM: With the quarantine and the unexpected outbreak of COVID-19, I assume business is still booming and you’re able to still participate in online gaming to keep your skills sharp from home?
AH: Yes of course, but my favorite part of my career was actually the events. Meeting fans, traveling around the world, and competing. I am getting a bit stir crazy but I am very lucky to have such a beautiful town to explore while the pandemic is breaking out. I live proudly in Denver, CO. The things I get to see 30 minutes from my house really keep me sane!
MM: What else are you doing while social distancing to keep sane? Have you picked up any new hobbies?
AH: Yes, as a matter of fact, I have! I actually took this time to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine and launch a clothing brand. Before I ever dove into gaming I was modeling. I was featured in numerous catalogs, magazines, and online shops so I really got a hands on experience when it came to fashion and business on the marketing side. Along with that, I graduated high school a semester early then college a year early. I took home a degree in business and a minor in marketing at age 20 and dove head first into gaming. I am now using my large platform and skills in marketing and modeling to launch a clothing that is not only made to empower women, but to educate them on how to have a sense of style. The website has a isoleucine design that allows you to shop by the entire outfit so you don’t have to do the work of pairing clothes together. I am very happy with the progress of the business and it is launched officially as of June 12, 2020!
MM: You also model; how has wearing multiple hats across several industries shaped the person you are today and the values you carry with you on a daily basis.
AH: I definitely think most people are this way, having interest in so many different things. I think the difference between me and most people is that most people pick one thing and master it, but I have a bit of ADHD and get bored easily, so in order for me to feel fulfilled I do extra things and tasks on the side! I do take a lot of time to study and try to do everything very well, but perhaps I might master something if I only put my effort into one thing. Mentally, I just have to do a lot to feel like I’m doing anything! I feel very lucky to have the time and dedication to many different industries and I have learned so much from doing so.
MM: Who are some gamers that inspire you?
AH: I really admire Shroud not only for his skill but for his humility and dedication to his fans. Another person I really admire is chocoTaco. My first meet and greet at twitchcon 2019 he stood in my line to meet me, even though I was going to stand in his! I think both are very skilled at the games they play and they really make the effort to connect with fans. I think that’s extremely important.
MM: If you could design a game– what would be its overarching theme and what setting would it take place in?
AH: I would love to design a futuristic “save the world game” with a survival aspect to it. I’ve always loved apocalyptic movies and games. I also think the recent pandemic has opened my eyes as to how lucky we are to live so lavishly. For the first time in years I had to get my own groceries and couldn’t pay to have them delivered. I think knowing skills to survive without modern economic struggle would be so educational. I would love to really learn some true survival skills from games as I feel a lot of them are very educational.
MM: Any classic games you remember playing from your childhood? Or a favorite in general throughout the years?
AH: To be honest I wasn’t really a gamer as a kid. I remember playing on my Nintendo and having family game night slaying on the drums with Rock Band.
MM: Let’s talk a bit about Styles by Avori, a project you’ve been working on for several months. Can you tease what’s to come for your clothing line? With 3 words how would you describe it…
AH: Edgy, Innovative, Classy
MM: You’ll also be selling Black Lives Matter t-shirts and donating 10% of the sales to the organization. Why was it important to you to use your platform to aid in the efforts for equality sweeping the country.
AH: I have planned to launch the same day for months not knowing what was coming with the death of George Floyd and the #blacklivesmatter movement. I didn’t want to change my launch date but something didn’t feel right within me to launch this project without giving back. I designed the shirts to have a bit of style but also support a very important problem we are facing all over the world. I want people to know that their lives matter no matter what skin color they have. I am tired of seeing the racism and police brutality here in America, and the only way to stop it is to come together and spread awareness. That’s exactly what I plan to do along with raising funds for families in need with the profits of the shirts.
MM: I like to throw in my signature question, if you were to build a donut based on your personality, what kind of donut would you choose and what toppings would you add?
AH: Well this is a very tough question because I enjoy eating only glazed donuts and how can I create a donut myself that I wouldn’t like to eat!?! I think this donut would have to have a little bit of every topping on it. My ADHD keeps me involved in everything I can get my hands on!