Special thanks to Rania (@Ranyi1) for assisting with the research and interview for this article.
In DAMN’s ELEMENT second verse, Kendrick Lamar delves into his life journey. He assures the listener that his career has been ‘Years in the makin’, and don’t y’all mistake it’ and advises them that ‘careers take off, just gotta be patient.
As a creator who has been doing this whole creating thing for more than a year now, I often feel doubt regarding the future of Lessons and Obsessions. I look at North American & European creators and see that they take off during their first two years.
For the longest time, I wrote off my lack of growth due to my geographical location. Simply put, there was not enough demand for the content that I provide.
I was intrigued when I discovered Milfaya, a Moroccan creator who was unique and honest, unlike the rest of the scene. But what piqued my interest was the fact that she saw substantial growth in a short period.
At that moment, I knew I HAD to interview Milfaya and learn more about her by speaking creator to creator.
In this article, we unravel Milfaya’s journey, struggles, advice for creators, and plans for the future.
How Milfaya Started
Ferdaous Zalmadi (AKA Milfaya) is a 24-year-old Moroccan content creator. She is a Youtuber and singer who shares relatable content from a Gen-Z perspective that’s different than the rest of the industry.
Her story begins in 2014 when she started watching Youtube. She enjoyed the content so much that it developed into admiration for online creation.
But despite the fascination –wow that rhyming scheme was on point–, Ferdaous’ main priority was her studies rather than creating. She never considered the fact that she was allowed to create.
Instead, she dreamed of becoming an accounting professor and teaching at universities.
“It’s silly how everyone else had big dreams like becoming a CEO or an influencer. Meanwhile, I was fantasizing about becoming a university accounting professor. ”
She occasionally worked odd jobs like call centers during summer break. In that period, she realized that a 9 to 5 career wasn’t her thing and she started questioning her goals.
After all, if she was not cut for a full-time position then how can she work as a professor?
This was further exacerbated when COVID came around and she started doubting her career. That led to her mental health declining and she burned out.
To cope with her issues, Ferdaous found herself instinctively turning back to Youtube for comfort. It was at those moments that something sparked and a path opened up.
Analyzing the Moroccan content creation scene, She saw an opportunity and released her first video on August 2020.
“I used to record videos for my friends all the time but sharing my first video was one of the scariest things I’ve done.”
Views quickly came around, the support was immense, and the video was a hit. She found herself engulfed in positivity which is a trait that would stay true among her fans up to this day.
Even if she lacked the proper gear and space (similar to how Essidaly Saad started), Ferdaous began a recording spree posting video after video and with it, her audience grew.
Nowadays, her Youtuber channel has over 250K subscribers, hundreds of thousands of views on each video, and an Instagram & Tiktok fanbase that supports her every move.
She collaborated with various creators – most notably SAOCurious– and brands like Samsung.
Milfaya is a Concept
If there’s one thing I’ve understood loud and clear is that Milfaya is an online persona. While Milfaya is an extension of Ferdaous’ personality, her persona helps her achieve what her chill and shy self wouldn’t achieve.
“I always make sure that people never get bored which is why I always try to be unexpected”
But to first understand who is Milfaya, we must first understand the difference between the two.
It begins with her fans who peg her to ADHD which she does not agree to. Although she has been officially diagnosed with ADHD –and it does impact her work life–, she does not monetize it.
“My content is sincere and relatable since I show my true personality so my ADHD shows up naturally”
The ADHD aspect mixes with work inspired by French Youtubers and content creators like Lena Mahfouf and Squeezy who consistently demonstrate their creative quality work.
“Lena Mahfouf once did a vlogging August challenge where she shared a well-edited vlog every day for a month. It was crazy. I looked at that and wondered how do you even do that?”
But she also appreciates the Moroccan creator scene through figures like Simo Sedraty, Adil Taouil, and others.
She methodically created a unique identity known as Milfaya yet her audience often compares her to Emma Chamberlain. While she can’t see the resemblance, she respects Emma for chasing her goals.
Milfaya Values Community
When Ferdaous eventually became independent, she moved out of her home to a safe space to create content. She was proud of everything she has achieved but also utterly lonely.
She found herself hanging out with countless people yet none rewarded her socially the way she wanted to.
“I used to go to this one cafe called Sugar Cafe in Casablanca. I hung out with +10 people at once. I knew their names and laughed with them but never felt connected”
This taught her the value of a small circle. ‘Real friends changed my life’, she claimed. Companions like SAOcurious motivate her but also hold her accountable which is something she couldn’t find somewhere else.
A community also includes the audience. This is why she tries to treat her community the same way her loved ones — by only giving energy to the people who support her.
I witnessed this effort in action during our interview. Ferdaous’ easy-going and positive energy made the interview feel like a conversation between friends.
Nowadays, Ferdaous is content with her small circle of 3 genuine friends and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Milfaya The Artist and Musician
Milfaya is also a musician. She released her first EP “L’Mdina” back in February 2023 and was met with overwhelming support.
But before becoming a Moroccan music icon, Ferdaous ghostwrote songs for others. However, it felt like selling her identity.
Something I can awfully relate to as a writer selling my ideas as pitches.
Despite the ghostwriting, it was not enough to cover the cost of renting a studio and producing and mixing a song.
Once she became popular, various people in the music industry provided her with an opportunity to produce her EP.
The help was appreciated but it couldn’t aid her in the booth. Being Milfaya took most of her time so she barely had time to write songs.
Those days were hectic having Ferdoaus record content in the morning and write her songs at night.
“Nighttime is demon time as I like to say. I had to call upon many dark heavy emotions. That ritual inspired one of my songs, Bin Yddi.”
Bin Yddi was the first song she wrote and produced and she wants to demolish the differences between Morocco 🇲🇦 &Algeria 🇩🇿 through the music.
“I felt very restricted when it came to my music. I didn’t want to offend anyone but I also had to step out of the box.”
When L’Mdina was first released, people did not take her seriously. After all, Milfaya’s brand was honest and silly while the album felt edited and serious. As you can imagine, this led to some critique.
“I try to be as relatable as possible with my content. So even if I change with time and become more serious, there’s always gonna be someone who’ll relate to me and that’s my goal.”
Ultimately, L’Mdina EP helped her uncover her serious and talented side which she plans to further nurture and grow. She plans to further expand on Rai, Flamengo, as well as other music types.
So keep an open eye 👀… or ear in this case 👂
Milfaya on The Moroccan Creator Space
Ferdaous believes that most Moroccan creators lack consistency. From not showing up to needless style changes to regurgitating content, local creators are not consistent with their content.
Only a handful of creators become public figures or influencers once they grow, dropping their creative endeavors.
And if they do choose to continue, most of them only show the successful things in their lives. In turn, this paints an image that creators have an easy life.
But the thing that rubs her off the wrong way –and I have to agree with her– is that most Moroccan creators use cliches and stereotypes. Too often will Moroccan artists utilize things like Zlij, Fez, or Tea to represent Morocco.
Not only is this generic content, but it also negatively reinforces stereotypes. While it is okay to start an artistic career with stereotypical Moroccan concepts, it shouldn’t be the main creative inspiration.
And I couldn’t agree more! With Lessons and Obsessions, I try to share and express ideas that go far beyond boring Moroccan stereotypes.
Milfaya on Moroccan Sponsors and Brands
To cut straight to the point, becoming a creator in Morocco is worth it. However, the caveat is that you need to work hard for it. Not only will you face practical issues like money and location, but the slow growth pace can cause burnout.
Milfaya had the same problems. She lacked a creative space that encouraged her to record, needed funds to buy gear and tools, and had to consistently show up and present her work.
If it wasn’t for the security of living with her parents and working other jobs to support her career, Ferdaous wouldn’t be where she is today.
The money is not as much as people think but the freedom that comes with being a creator makes it worthwhile.
“I get my money by forcing myself to grow my social media accounts and chase sponsorships while balancing how the audience feels about being marketed to”
Additionally, the Moroccan content creator space is severely lacking. The market is untapped and has plenty of rewards to offer.
Brands in Morocco use the creator themselves to market rather than working with them. As a result, creators become severely limited when making sponsored content.
“I see other foreign creators doing sponsored Youtube segments and they have the liberty to promote as they want. With Moroccan ones, they micro-manage you at every step. Why would you work with Milfaya but only use me as a model or object.”
Nowadays, Milfaya carefully chooses the brands she works with. While she’s a creator she is also a consumer. That’s why she only works with brands she’d use for herself.
Milfaya’s Advice to Aspiring Moroccan Content Creators
As cliched as it sounds, Ferdaous advises upcoming creators to “be yourself, original, and real.” The only way she discovered Milfaya, the creator and the singer, was through Youtube.
“And that’s the beauty of it [being authentic], you find yourself. I was subconscious about my smile and posture. It only fixed itself after embracing who I am.”
The key is to be a self-learner and apply Milfaya’s manifesto/commandments for content creation:
- Do not change yourself for the sake of the industry.
- It’s not important to have besties or friends in the industry.
- Do not need to feel pressured to make friends.
- But it is crucial to receive feedback from friends.
- Always ask yourself why before posting something.
- Support yourself and experience life entirely.
- Be independent.
- Watch Youtube to get inspired.
- Everything can be content.
“I am so open to teaching others about my knowledge. But be prepared that becoming a content creator is not as easy as you think.”
Since her debut in August 2020, Ferdaous has achieved a lot. From meeting her favorite creators face to face (like Faysal Azizi) to buying all the filming gear she lacked when starting.
Yet despite these achievements, She’s most proud of her independence be it financial or social.
Excitingly, she has big projects and announcements planned out in the upcoming weeks. While I can’t reveal them, some of these goals include becoming active on Youtube once more.
Similarly, she is also working on new music which should be one of her most ambitious works yet.
“I always have so many plans in the works. But I think that what I desire most right now is to find peace of mind.”
Hey, that’s another Kendrick Lamar reference!
What is Your Latest Obsession?
Greek astronomers probably once said before that the stars are the answer. Ferdaous is fascinated by stars of all shapes, brightness, and sizes.
And yes, I did ask about her opinion on astrology signs. It is her anti-obsession
Miloukha or Mille Feuilles?
Mille Feuilles all the way.