Creative Artists Agency (CAA) signed Miquela, a 19-year old Brazilian-American model, pop singer and social influencer. Unlike CAA’s other clients, however, Miquela is a virtual character, created by California-based tech startup Brud in 2016. She first appeared on Instagram where, as “Lil Miquela” she garnered 2.2 million followers. She also has almost 550,000 TikTok followers. CAA plans to work with Miquela on “TV, film, and brand strategy and commercial endorsements, raising the prospect of a movie or show featuring the character.”
The Guardian gives a tip, tongue in cheek, “for all you struggling actors wondering where you have been going wrong: try not existing!” More seriously, it notes that virtual actors are “totally malleable … will never complain … are always in prime condition and camera-ready” and, in Miquela’s case, brings along a fan base.
“She pushes the right buttons: young, fashionable, fluent in social-media discourse,” it adds. The Guardian points to Miquela’s predecessors, especially Al Pacino’s “Simone.” But it adds that Miquela and her ilk are not likely to take the place of human ones for several reasons. She is “not a genuine AI” because “she is scripted and voiced by humans, so is effectively an animated character.”
Her face also “has limited range when it comes to nuance or emotion.” But, it adds, “celebrity is an inextricable factor in the equation, and it’s no longer exclusive to humans.”
Variety reports that creator Brud positions Miquela as a “Gen Z tastemaker.” Brud and WWE teamed up to ink “brand partnerships for [her] with companies including Samsung, Prada, Calvin Klein and YouTube.” Miquela has also “released several songs, including a recent collaboration with real-life artist Teyana Taylor on single ‘Machine’.”
Miquela, noted Brud, “uses pitch-correction tools and other software to make sure she’s nailing her performance,” but wouldn’t reveal who provides Miquela’s voice. Brud president Kara Weber stated that, “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.”
Miquela is also a social activist “who has highlighted issues including challenges facing homeless and displaced women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and youth in crisis,” and, in 2018, was named by Time magazine as “one of the 25 Most Influential People on the Internet.”
CAA global client strategy executive Adam Friedman said his company sees “a unique opportunity for innovative, forward-thinking brands to align with a culturally relevant, icon-in-the-making.”