Activist Brandon Anthony recently hit two major milestones nearly simultaneously. The director of Santana’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for communities in need, recently celebrated two years of continuous sobriety and over ten million views of his top-rated Reddit video series, Recovery Road.
The young philanthropist, who first got sober with Alcoholics Anonymous, has a perceptive knack for capturing the recovery experience. As a Black man, however, he falls into a demographic grossly underserved and underrepresented in recovery spaces.
Research conducted by the United States Census Bureau found that Black people make up 17.6 percent of AA membership, while white people represent 70.4 percent. Anthony decided he wanted to create a community where everyone felt comfortable sharing their experiences and seeking help.
“We celebrate recovery from all of the traumas of life,” Anthony told In The Know. “But, specifically for me — my journey is recovery from alcoholism.”
The idea for Recovery Road developed organically as Anthony took steps in early recovery to establish a healthy routine and decided to start each day with a 20-mile bike ride.
“Eventually I just turned on the camera — one day when I was feeling a little bit more vulnerable,” he shared. “I started telling my story about how I came from being homeless in D.C. and was now in New Orleans. I had just lost my job, and was honest about feeling a little scared of relapsing.”
An astounding 20,000 people tuned in to his first episode, affirming that Anthony’s casual and compelling storytelling had resonated with people around the world.
Currently based out of Oaxaca, Mexico, Anthony coasts through the vibrant city while waxing inspirational from a ten speed.
“I genuinely believe that I’m the best reflection of the people right now,” he told In The Know — and by his own assessment, what the people need now most of all is simply love.
“This might seem trite, but when you have a hundred thousand people or just 10,000 people watching and you get everyone to type love at once, it’s palpable,” he added. “One thing I like to tell the audience is to find their comment in the chat. I say look at the 10 people above you and look at the 10 people below you and see that you’re actually surrounded by love in this moment. It helps me build connection and community.”
Within the past six months, Anthony’s viewership has increased dramatically, and he says he’s now taking his goals for public speaking and philanthropy more seriously.
“The great thing about Reddit is the new channel that they started called r/pan, [Reddit’s public access network],” Anthony explained. “What makes this such an instrumental tool versus any other social media is that on my Instagram, when I go live, I can only reach the people that follow me. On r/pan, whoever has the best content gets to the very front of Reddit’s page. So you might only have two followers, but if you have good content and you can keep people engaged, you can have up to 150,000 people watching in that hour.”
Anthony’s enthusiasm for the platform is proportional to his success, which he admits is not easy to achieve with thousands of content creators competing for viewers at all hours. His winning formula requires consistency, thematic structure and, above all, authenticity.
“I show up as a person. I readily admit I’m not the smartest guy. I’m not a guru — I read gurus, I study their work,” Anthony explained. “I’m just asking people questions. I’m getting people engaged. And I genuinely care.”
What began as Anthony’s private and pensive morning routine — a step towards rebuilding the life he believed he’d lost — evolved to guide him to his purpose as an inspirational speaker. Through his swift popularity on Reddit and the confidence he found through sobriety, Anthony has big goals for the future.
“Next year for my sobriety anniversary on March 19, I’m trying to pull off a Guinness World Record for the most [recovered alcoholics] in a room and turn it into World Sobriety Day,” he said. “We’re going to do it.”
Whether he reaches this milestone next year or not, it’s clear Anthony has learned how to enjoy the journey. Through life’s most severe challenges and setbacks, he has learned how to transform the pain of hardship into an infectious joy and abundant generosity. And that is worth watching any day.
If you or someone you know is experiencing an alcohol use disorder, call The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-4357 for resources or visit the Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous. You can also search for local programs and therapists through the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism online navigator.
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