Miquela, the Uncanny CGI Virtual Influencer, Signs With CAA (EXCLUSIVE)
Here’s some real news about a fake (or, at least, unreal) star: Miquela, the digital avatar and music artist created by an L.A.-based entertainment company, has signed as CAA’s first virtual client, Variety has learned exclusively.
Miquela, aka “Lil Miquela,” launched on Instagram in April 2016 without explanation — and today she has 2.2 million followers, plus almost 550,000 on TikTok. The freckle-faced, CGI-generated teen robot is the invention of startup Brud, which positions her as a “Gen Z tastemaker” and has inked brand partnerships for Miquela with companies including Samsung, Prada, Calvin Klein and YouTube.
CAA said it will work with Miquela (pronounced “mih-KAY-lah”) in all areas, including TV, film, and brand strategy and commercial endorsements, raising the prospect of a movie or show featuring the character. WME confirmed that it formerly repped Miquela in partnership with Brud.
Brud claims Miquela’s social status and “unique capabilities” as a virtual personality and singer “have the power to inspire a new generation of entertainment.” The digital character has released several songs, including a recent collaboration with real-life artist Teyana Taylor on single “Machine.”
It’s unknown who provides the voice of Miquela. A Brud rep said, “Miquela, like many artists, uses pitch-correction tools and other software to make sure she’s nailing her performance. She may be a robot but nobody’s perfect.” In an FAQ on Brud’s website, in response to the question “Is Miquela real?”, the company says that she is “As real as Rihanna.”
“Miquela has cultivated a passionate fandom and now finds herself in the unique position of both reflecting and influencing culture,” Brud president Kara Weber said in a statement provided to Variety. “There are unprecedented opportunities for high-fidelity virtual characters to push the bounds of what we’ve seen in any content and advertising to date. We look forward to developing that opportunity with CAA.”
Courtesy of Brud
As part of her persona, Miquela is a social activist and “change-seeker” who has highlighted issues including challenges facing homeless and displaced women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and youth in crisis. In 2018, Time magazine named her one of the 25 Most Influential People on the Internet.
“Over the last few years, we’ve watched the team at Brud create a true multi-hyphenate in Miquela,” Adam Friedman, CAA global client strategy executive, said in a statement. “We are excited to jump in and help her navigate the world of television and film, and also see a unique opportunity for innovative, forward-thinking brands to align with a culturally relevant, icon-in-the-making.”
Brud, founded in 2014, has raised $6.1 million from investors including Spark Capital, BoxGroup, Sequoia Capital and Founders Fund, per Crunchbase.
Original Post: Variety, Todd Spangler, 5/6/20