|Also known as|
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
Miquela Sousa, or Lil Miquela, is a character which was created by Trevor McFedries and Sara DeCou. The project began in 2016 as an Instagram profile. The account details a fictional narrative which presents Miquela as a CGI character and model in conflict with other digital projects while marketing a variety of brands, primarily in fashion. As a marketing tool, Miquela has been featured in product endorsements for streetwear and luxury brands such as Calvin Klein and Prada. By April 2018, the account had amassed more than a million followers. As of March 2021[update], it has over 3 million followers.
The character Miquela is a teenaged Instagram model from Downey, California. Miquela's first Instagram post was made on April 23, 2016. British model Emily Bador was rumored to be Miquela; Bador has denied managing the account but openly acknowledged the physical similarity between herself and the character.
In April 2018, Brud, a Los Angeles-based startup led by McFedries, announced that it was the creator of both the character and the Instagram account.
In April 2018, a second, similar character known as Bermuda "hacked" the Miquela account, deleting all photos of Miquela and replacing them with photos of the Bermuda character. Miquela and Bermuda were then revealed to both be characters created by Trevor McFedries and Sara Decou of Brud. The two online personas then began posting pictures together, and eventually the account was again run by Miquela's team. This narrative positioned the Miquela character as a social justice activist. In 2020, Miquela “consciously uncoupled” from her “human” boyfriend as a part of the storyline.
The character has been pictured with a number of celebrities including Diplo, Molly Soda, Millie Bobby Brown, Nile Rogers, Shane Dawson, Samantha Urbani and Pabllo Vittar. She has been "interviewed" or profiled in a number of publications including Refinery29, Vogue, Buzzfeed, v-files, Nylon, the Guardian, Business of Fashion, and The Cut. She appeared on the cover of Highsnobiety in April 2018.
She has also been featured in the magazines V and Paper.In February 2018, the character did an Instagram takeover for Prada as part of Milan Fashion Week. On May 16, she did a Calvin Klein ad with Bella Hadid, in which both were animated, in addition to a collaboration with Samsung. That year Miquela was hired as a contributing arts editor to the magazine Dazed. In 2020, Miquela became the first digital avatar to sign with a talent agency when a contract was signed with CAA—becoming its first virtual client. It was discovered at the time that Miquela had previously been represented by WME.
The character has been pictured with a number of celebrities including Diplo, Molly Soda, Millie Bobby Brown, Nile Rogers, Shane Dawson, Samantha Urbani and Pabllo Vittar. It has been "interviewed" or profiled in a number of publications including Refinery29, Vogue, Buzzfeed, v-files, Nylon, the Guardian, Business of Fashion, and The Cut. It appeared on the cover of Highsnobiety in April 2018. In February 2018, the character did an Instagram takeover for Prada as part of Milan Fashion Week. On May 16, it did a Calvin Klein ad with Bella Hadid, in which both were animated. They were shown kissing each other, which sparked accusations of queer-baiting. Calvin Klein then went on to apologize amidst the deep criticism, stating that their concept was to “promote freedom of expression for a wide range of identities, including a spectrum of gender and sexual identities”.
In April 2018, a second, similar character known as Bermuda "hacked" into the Miquela account, deleting all photos of Miquela and replacing them with photos of the Bermuda character. Lil Miquela and Bermuda were then revealed to both be characters created by Trevor McFedries and Sara Decou of Brud. The two online personas then began posting pictures together, and eventually the account was again run by Miquela's team.
|"Not Mine"||2017||Non-album singles|
|"You Should Be Alone"||2018|
|"Hate Me (with Baauer)"|
|"Machine (featuring. Teyana Taylor)"|
|"Sims (Miquela Remix)"||Lauv||2019||How I'm Feeling (The Extras)|
Trevor McFedries, a cofounder of Brud, is a music producer and DJed known as Yung Skeeter. The use of Miquela as a virtual musician has been compared to Gorillaz and Hatsune Miku. In August 2017, Miquela released its first single, "Not Mine".
The Miquela character has released several singles since its debut with "Not Mine," including "You Should be Alone", "Over You", “Right Back”, and a collaboration with Baauer titled "Hate Me". She released two new singles on July 31st called "Money" and "Sleeping In".
In June 2018, Miquela was named one of Time’s 25 Most Influential People on the Internet along with fellow fashion peers DietPrada (duo composed of Lindsey Schuyler and Tony Liu) and celebrated musicians Rihanna and BTS.
The future of social marketing has been questioned with the rise of digital avatars such as Lil Miquela. Other notable examples include black digital supermodel Shudu Gram, created by photographer Cameron-James Wilson, and Noonoouri, whose long list of collaborations already consist of Kim Kardashian and Dior.
Moreover, the social dilemma regarding the lack of opportunities for real-life models of color and whether or not CGI models are taking their jobs has become a recent debate.
Lil Miquela’s physical appearance has become dubious as well, as it promotes a certain beauty standard that is not realistic for everyone. It consequently poses a social and ethical dilemma since it is not a real person, but a 3D model.
- Petrarca, Emilia (11 May 2018). "Lil Miquela's Body Con Job". The Cut. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
- Koh, Yoree; Wells, Georgia (13 December 2018). "The Making of a Computer-Generated Influencer". WSJ. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
- "Instagram's Latest 'It' Model Is Confusing The Hell Out Of Everyone". The Huffington Post. 2016-09-02. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
- "Virtual It-Singer Miquela Says 'Controversy Doesn't Mean Anything': Interview". Billboard. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
- Foiret, Cyril (2019-01-23). "The New Trend of 3D Avatars are taking over Instagram". Trendland. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
- Shieber, Jonathan (24 April 2018). "The makers of the virtual influencer, Lil Miquela, snag real money from Silicon Valley". TechCrunch. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
- Jones, Daisy (10 April 2018). "Why We Follow Lil Miquela, The Instagram Model With 900K Followers & No Soul". Refinery29.
- Chang, Eric (17 August 2017). "@lilmiquela Is a Social Media Superstar With a Brand New Single—She's Also a Digital Simulation". Vogue.
- Widdoes, Adriana (27 April 2018). "Is Virtual Instagram Star Lil Miquela Magic, Or Just Marketing?". BuzzFeed News.
- Yashari, Leora (29 January 2018). "Lil Miquela Is A Virtual Artist Who Is Blurring The Boundaries Of Identity". Nylon.
- Marriott, Hannah (27 February 2018). "Miquela the 'cyborg' and handbag drones – Milan fashion week's weird vision of the future". The Guardian.
- Morency, Christopher (5 February 2018). "Meet Fashion's First Computer-Generated Influencer". The Business of Fashion.
- Eror, Aleks (2 May 2018). "Lil Miquela: the AI Star on the Cover of Highsnobiety Issue 16". Highsnobiety. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
- Mischianti, Lisa (8 March 2018). "Lil Miquela Is the Face of New Age Logomania". V Magazine.
- Weiss, Alex (5 December 2017). "Lil Miquela: (Cyber) Girl of the 21st Century". PAPER.
- "*~ MIQUELA ~* (@lilmiquela) • Instagram photos and videos". www.instagram.com. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
- Gorsler, Fabian (February 2018). "Meet Lil Miquela: Fashion's First Virtual Instagram Influencer". Highsnobiety. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- Yotka, Steff (22 February 2018). "Prada Launches Instagram GIFs With Help From a Fictional It Girl". Vogue. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
- "Instagram post by Lil Miquela which showcases the Calvin Klein ad".
- Petrarca, Emilia (2019-05-20). "Calvin Klein Apologizes for Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela Campaign". The Cut. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
- Gollayan, Christian (2018-04-19). "Internet freaks out over pro-Trump, AI 'Instagram model'". New York Post. Retrieved 2019-12-14.
- "Lil Miquela on Instagram: "So, Brud programmed my memories, claiming I'm from a place called Downey. It's right in-between Los Angeles and Disneyland. Even though that sounds like a dream to me, I had to come check it out for myself..."". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
- "Bermuda on Instagram: "More emotional than I thought it would be. Despite it all, there's only three of us out there and we need to stick together. We talked it…"". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
- "Lil Miquela on Instagram: "So I pull up to the trail and there she is. No rattlesnakes. No hiking. Just a robot sitting on the curb in skinny jeans and wedges. She said it's the only way she could get my attention since I haven't answered her texts since we went to the mall a couple weeks back. She just wanted to hang out. So here we are 'hanging out.'"". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
- Clein, Emmeline (28 June 2019). "Branding Fake Justice for Generation Z". The Nation. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
- "Instagram post by Lil Miquela with Spanish singer Rosalía". Instagram.
- Stutz, Colin (11 August 2017). "Virtual Singer & Internet Star Miquela Shares Debut Single 'Not Mine'". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
- "Meet This Year's 25 Most Influential People on the Internet". Time. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
- Appel, Gil; Grewal, Lauren; Hadi, Rhonda; Stephen, Andrew T. (2020-01-01). "The future of social media in marketing". Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. 48 (1): 79–95. doi:10.1007/s11747-019-00695-1. ISSN 1552-7824. PMC 7222052. PMID 32431463.
- Jackson, Lauren Michele (4 May 2018). "Shudu Gram Is a White Man's Digital Projection of Real-Life Black Womanhood". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
- Molin, Victoria; Nordgren, Sofia (2019). Robot or Human? The Marketing Phenomenon of Virtual Influencers : A Case Study About Virtual Influencers’ Parasocial Interaction on Instagram.
- Cadogan, Dominic; Alemoru, Kemi (2018-04-12). "Are CGI models taking jobs away from real people of colour?". Dazed. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
- Graham, Luke (2019-10-28). "Virtual influencers like Lil Miquela pose a dilemma for marketing industry". CityAM. Retrieved 2020-12-17.