When Gilbert Sosa picked up our Google Hangout call, he wasn’t on camera, but I could hear him say, “One second!” He settled in his chair with a wide smile on his face as his coiffed auburn hair bounced slightly. “¿Comó estás?” he asked, with the same enthusiasm he shows in his TikTok videos.
The Houston native was at his friend’s apartment in Mexico City, working on his next content house, where creators are invited to live together to make videos and other visuals for social media. During their stay, these creators typically have food, rent and utilities covered so they can focus on creating content for brands.
Sosa’s newest project, which he’s been working on for the past year, is StoryHouze, a content house dedicated to storytelling and philanthropy. Based out of Mexico City, StoryHouze launched the first of its two phases on Oct. 2. In Phase I, Sosa is joined by Abelardo Campuzano, Abelardo Bobadilla, Alan Sandoval, Basilio Cerdan, Mack Failing and Santiago Sevilla. For Phase II, the plan is for the house to add more members and be based in the United States.
“I wanted to come up with a more purposeful reason to launch a content house, a big reason that brings people from different backgrounds and audiences together, so I decided that there is a correlation between philanthropy with storytelling,” Sosa, 24, told HuffPost. “I believe that uniting a group of content creators to amplify these stories to their millions of followers can make a difference in the world.”
Sosa, who is Mexican-American, is a talent manager for up-and-coming content creators — he manages everyone in StoryHouze — as well as a filmmaker, influencer and actor. This summer, he launched TejasHouse, one of the first bilingual content creator houses.
Most of the influencers in TejasHouse are based in Sosa’s home state. Three Houston-based influencers — Meliza Vasquez, who is Salvadoran-American, and Dayanara Uriostegui and Secily, who are both Mexican-American — were brought into the house by Sosa. Tally Dilbert and Jay Torres are both from Honduras, and are now based in Texas and North Carolina, respectively. Mariano Razo and Zachary Jaquith are influencers from Mexico, and Brins Torres is from Ecuador. In July, the creators ended their first three-month stint.
“We don’t really fit in any box,” Sosa told HuffPost. “People will try to put us in boxes, but we don’t even know that ourselves yet. We’re still trying to figure that part out.”
To have a successful creator house — one that gets brand deals and sponsorships, makes money and churns out interesting content — each creator has to have something special. With TejasHouse, the members were on a mission to dismantle the stereotype that Latino communities are monolithic. Throughout their time in the house, each creator showcased different aspects of their culture.
“We’re doing everything with intention and purpose for something bigger than ourselves,” Sosa said of StoryHouze. “We believe that [by] being authentic in wanting to pay it forward, we’ll be able to attract the type of people that will want to join the movement and promote philanthropy as we plan to do it.”
Sosa has been building toward a career as a social media influencer for the past five years. He got his start in 2016 as an intern with one of the most popular content houses, Team 10, which was led by former Vine star turned boxer Jake Paul. Sosa was only an intern for a month before he was offered a full-time position. To his mom’s surprise, he joined the team instead of going to college on a full-ride scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin to study communications and public relations.
Since then, Sosa has built a huge following, making both comedic videos and short vlog-style posts with updates about his personal life and his influencer business ventures. He’s accumulated more than 880,000 followers on Instagram and 200,000 on TikTok, and more than 571,000 subscribers on YouTube.
It didn’t take long for Sosa to go viral on TikTok. His third video received more than 1 million views. In the satirical clip, he mimes an encounter with a fan of the content collective Dosogas Team, where Sosa was a producer, co-founder and talent. The unseen fan asks Sosa for a photo as Justin Bieber’s “Lonely” plays wistfully. After they take the pic, the “fan” asks Sosa his name, referencing his peer Federico Vigevani, and Sosa looks crushed.
Sosa said he’s most proud of being able to sustain himself as an influencer and that his talent management business has continued to grow. He was also surprised by the brands he’s gotten to work with. In 2019, he partnered with Netflix to promote the Ryan Reynolds thriller “6 Underground.” In April, he partnered with Dell to promote the XPS 13 laptop.
One of Sosa’s top-performing short films is called “First Timers.” It’s about a young woman and her boyfriend, who have taken vows of celibacy, having sex for the first time. “First Timers” was posted on YouTube in December 2019; it’s been viewed more than 14 million times.
With the constant high demand for content, Sosa has learned to be OK with slowing down and focusing on what makes him happy: creating work that he’s proud of and surrounding himself with like-minded creators.
“I’ve come to terms [with the fact] that I’m not in a rush,” he said. “I’ll add urgency to it, but I’ll take as long as I take. It’s about the long game, not the short game.”