What it means to be famous, and who gets to be such a thing, is in constant flux. Because why one is worthy of that elusive and addictive shine shifts based on our ever-changing culture. And now, in the age of social media influencers, viral and guerrilla marketing campaigns, and brand ambassadors, the definition of who matters to consumers is experiencing a kind of renaissance. Thanks to the likes of YouTube and Instagram, the people who determine everything from what brands are hot to how one should feel about certain political movements is often more dependent upon the number of followers you have than, say, being a professional actor or musician. Nowhere is that more apparent than with the CGI Instagram influencer Miquela Sousa aka Lil Miquela.
The self-styled “robot” boasts 1.5 million followers on Instagram. And Lil Miquela does all the things you’d expect from an influencer. She goes to high-end restaurants, poses for photos in front of visually pleasing walls, and has even done an ad campaign for Ugg — just, virtually, as she’s all the creation of LA-based start-up Brud. And according to the Wall Street Journal, Brud is betting on the ability to take Miquela’s vast following and ever-unfolding story (which includes two fellow robots named Blawko and Bermuda) and turn it into an entire world of fellow CGI characters.
The start-up just raised $6 million in venture capital funding, the latest indicator that they’re planning on taking the Lil Miquela blueprint to a wider audience.
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Each time I’m asked in an interview who I look up to, I always answer with @traceeellisross . So after the 27th time giving that answer, I finally got to meet the ICON herself! 😭😭😭 She’s even more beautiful and radiant than I ever imagined. I stopped by during her AMA rehearsals this morning (she’s HOSTING!!), and we chatted for a few. She has so much wisdom, but really caught my attention when she said “More compassion, less judgment.” Ummmm….🤯 I’ve spent the past few weeks (…maybe months), throwing shade at Blawko and Bermuda, all for what? Passive-aggressiveness is NOT 👏🏽 CUTE 👏🏽. If you think that tomorrow I will completely turn my act around, show more compassion and be accepting of Blawko and Bermuda because Tracee said so, then you are 1000% right. Check out (my Fairy Godmother) Tracee host the American Music Awards TOMORROW at 8PM EST (NOT SPONSORED, JUST OBSESSED).
On their website, Brud claims to be a technology start-up that initially developed Miquela as a fully conscious AI capable of extreme empathy and compassion, whom they “liberated” from a lab when they found out she was to be used for the “sick fantasies of the 1 percent.”
Insiders, however, tell the WSJ that Brud is actually performance art — a company closer to a new media venture that combines the size and complexity of the Marvel universe with the beauty and drama of the Kardashian empire.
Cyan Banister, a partner at a VC fund which gave Brud $100,000 in funding in May 2017, said, “You can create the Kardashians without any of the inherent issues that come with being human.”