Describing Cyprus as her second home, a Ukrainian global influencer aspires to improve the world finds PAUL LAMBIS

There’s more to influencer Mariia Grazhina Chaplin than her Miss Ukraine International 2002 title, as she is also a journalist, television presenter, producer and publisher. And neither is the term influencer used lightly; she is founder of the World Influencers and Bloggers Awards (WIBA).

Although Chaplin is based in Monaco, she has a special fondness for Cyprus, where she spends her summers. “The surreal natural beauty, warm-hearted people, delectable cuisine, and, above all, the way Cypriots embrace foreigners as if they are family is genuinely welcoming,” she said. “When I am in Cyprus, it feels like my second home.”

Chaplin is now ready to embark on a project that will promote Cyprus not just to her affluent inner circles, but the entire world.

Chaplin was born in Lviv, Ukraine, and has been driven by storytelling and an ongoing curiosity about the world around her for as long as she can remember. “From a young age, I was captivated by the idea of communicating with a wide audience and shedding light on important issues,” she told the Cyprus Mail, which led her into journalisam, “where I could engage with people, share their stories, and contribute to the collective understanding of our society.”

Being an influencer, she says, is not just about looking the part. “It is a rapidly evolving field that requires analytical insight as well as creative expression with the potential to transform the media and entertainment industries’ future.”

feature2 at an awards ceremony

At an awards ceremony

The idea of establishing a global organisation to bring together these highly influential figures in the world of social media was conceived a year before the pandemic, and it has now resulted in a collective force of 200 million followers across various platforms.

“WIBA’s vision is to serve as the people’s voice, a dynamic platform that transcends generations, genders, races, nationalities and continents. We want to unite people who speak different languages and represent different backgrounds and professions,” she explained.

But Chaplin’s mission is to also motivate and educate influencers so they can deliver essential messages that advocate for a better future for the world.

“Our focus areas include human rights, children’s safety, equal opportunity and non-discrimination, digital tolerance and cyber-anti-bullying, gender issues, women’s empowerment, environmental sustainability, preservation of global cultural heritage, healthy lifestyles, and social justice.”

WIBA has undergone remarkable evolution and expansion since its inception in 2018, becoming a dynamic force within the influencer industry, with the creation of many organisations and initiatives that have shaped the association’s growth. Initiatives such as the World Influencers Forum, which Chaplin describes as a “hub for the exchange of ideas, information, and innovations,” promoting business networking and the co-creation of the future.

The WIBA Academy “offers a unique range of expertise, specialists, and tools to guide aspiring bloggers on their journey to becoming celebrity influencers.” Since their establishment in 2019, the WIBA Awards have quickly become a leading celebration of influencers and business leadership. “These awards reflect our commitment to setting industry standards for recognising and celebrating influential individuals and content creators worldwide, at the same time nurturing the opinion leaders and trendsetters of tomorrow,” Chaplin added.

feature2 on the red carpet

On the red carpet

She had recently established a company in Cyprus, and plans include the WIBA Film Festival in Cyprus, which will focus on films exclusively available on online platforms. Without mentioning names, she also said some celebrity projects can also be expected in Cyprus soon.

Her ultimate objective though is peace. “I used to believe that our world was changing and that the emergence of influencers in our lives would put a stop to politicians’ audacious manipulation of people’s opinions. I hope that influencers’ posts would continually push people in a positive path since, as creative people, they inherently carry goodness in their hearts.

“Regrettably, my optimism was misplaced, and this realisation struck me during the outbreak of the Ukrainian war. Some Russian bloggers initially supported Ukraine, but within three days they were silenced. Long before the war began, many opinion leaders were forced to flee the country under the pretext of fabricated criminal charges,” Chaplin said.

“Influencers were unable to bring about the change I had hoped for. Perhaps a different force, such as sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI), can pave the path for a brighter future,” she said.

While Chaplin’s initiatives continue to raise awareness of significant global, environmental and philanthropic issues, she hopes her work will facilitate the dissemination of influential messages that prioritise critical social issues. “These objectives are at the core of my life’s projects.”