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My Internet: Maya Cade
The Black Film Archive creator built what she couldn't find online.
Every Friday, we quiz a “very online” person for their essential guide to what’s good on the internet.
Today we welcome Maya Cade, an audience development strategist at the Criterion Collection and the creator and curator of Black Film Archive, a streaming guide to Black films made between 1915 and 1979 that has been recognized by the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. Maya plays music supervisor in her Stories, watches new films with other Black artists in a private Discord, and uses Twitter to share joy and cheer on people she admires. —Nick
Would you say that you have an Instagram aesthetic? How would you describe it?
My in-feed Instagram aesthetic is organized chaos, but my stories are where I play music supervisor and add cinematic value to my everyday life by juxtaposing the New York scenery to a score that comes to mind. For example, recently I used The Pixie’s “Here Comes Your Man” over a subway ride.
What type of stuff do you watch on YouTube?
My Youtube search history runs the gamut from Black Film Archive research to playing DJ for myself during my work hours. I’m particularly enjoying the Youtube channel Conceptually Yours. Conceptually Yours creates stunning “vintage inspired” playlists that have titles that appeal to specifically me, like “you can tell they're slowly starting to fall out of love.” 10/10
Do you use TikTok? If so, how would you describe what shows up on your For You Page?
My FYP is filled with apartments I’ll never own and food I’ll never cook. I am admittedly on TikTok to organize my idealized life (said apartments and food) into nice folders that I’ll never revisit. In the thick of the pandemic, the illusion of control is an escape I’ve needed.
Do you ever tweet? Why?
To me, Twitter is a tool for digital curation that is a collage of what I'm interested in and exploring in my creative practice. I’m on Twitter to extend the joy I feel when discovering something new and cheering on people I admire and respect. Also to laugh, Black Twitter continues to be the funniest place on the internet.
Have you ever had a post go viral? What was that experience like?
I’ve had many social posts go viral but the most memorable moment is one of my earliest viral tweets. When I was a student at Howard University, I tweeted that I saw Rachel Dolezal on campus with a camera crew. Her producer told me she was filming a new documentary about her life and how her Howard experience shaped her. That moment was my first mention in The Cut, among other publications. Howard even released a statement that there was “no authorization to film on campus.” That was an absolutely wild moment for a younger me.
Who's the coolest person who follows you?
Many cool people have followed me but when director and legend Julie Dash did recently… I squealed LOUDLY.
Who's someone more people should follow?
Neta Bomani’s mchapoarchive Instagram and creative practice is the future of archiving. Neta touches the past with the gentle but forceful hand and shows in real time that we have endless insights to yield from what has come before us.
Where do you tend to get your news?
90 percent of my friends are journalists, so the day’s news is of constant discussion in my group chats. I also still visit news sites' home pages a couple of times a day to stay up to date and receive The New Yorker, The New York Times, and New York magazine in print.
What's your favorite non-social media app?
I spend most of my free time on the Internet Archive. I often have intellectual journeys I’m hyper passionate about and the Internet Archive is my playground to explore them. Currently I’m using the site and JSTOR to research civil rights movements across the world. I want to be a lifelong learner of not just film but every interest in my life.
What are you willing to pay for online?
I currently subscribe to most streaming sites for Black Film Archive but want to give a special shout out to OVID, a streamer focused on independent cinema that is a tool I use to expand my knowledge. I also still pay for cable, I cannot and refuse to live without my comfort blanket*
*An unlimited DVR of films on TCM.
Do you subscribe to any Substacks or other independent newsletters? What are your favorites?
I exclusively get my health news from Julia Craven and she just created a wonderful Substack. I also am a noted STAN of Harmony Holiday’s lyrical and lush writing that she has on full display on her Substack.
When was the last time you browsed Pinterest? What for?
Pinterest continues to be one of the better discovery tools for imagery. Because of that I will always stan and use it.
Are you regularly in any groups on Reddit, Slack, Discord, or Facebook? What are they about?
Discord has been my saving grace lately. I’m in a private Discord with other Black artists where we group-watch new films in platform each week. The connection we’ve all fostered there reminds me of the early days of the internet: there’s safe space to think through your feelings and celebration of a common interest. It’s precious.
Are you playing any games right now?
I have always been a brain game girl, when there’s extreme turbulence on a plane my first thought (after “am I going to make it”) is which brain game can I use to soothe my mind. Which means I, like most people I know, am addicted to Wordle, but I can never casually like something… I’m also playing the four quadrant version called Quordle and am also really into Globle along with Vulture’s new daily 10x10 crossword. I also look forward to the Sunday Crossword.
Do you text people voice notes? If not, how do you feel about getting them?
Early in the pandemic I was sending my friends what could only be described as vocal love letters. There is such a tenderness in hearing a voice you love or long to hear. I want to carry that tenderness with me always, so I try to send it when I can, too.
One friend and I exclusively got to know each other because of the voice notes we exchanged. I treasure the thrill of that… it felt like sitting on the phone in middle school rehashing the day’s happenings. I’m always chasing that feeling.
If you could only keep Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, or one other streaming service, which would it be, and why?
If I were on a deserted island, I would easily only take HBO Max with me. It has TCM, Hacks (the only very new show I’ve seen four times), The Nanny, and every humdrum show I’ve missed from the early 2000s… The perfect companion.
What's the most basic thing that you love online?
Seeing earnest communication of feelings (on anything) will always make my heart soar. I love it.
Is there any content you want that you can't seem to find anywhere online?
Yes but I’m in the process of building it with Black Film Archive 😈 :-)
Do you regularly use eBay, Depop, or other shopping platforms? What's a recent thing you've bought or sold?
What's one thing you recommend for maintaining a healthy relationship with the internet?
Your internet presence is a performance. It’s impossible to capture the fullness of who you are when you do things with an audience in mind. Because of that, you are always in translation to others… Moving digitally with that mind creates a sense of peace for me.
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