My partner Krystle and myself(Amie), Team Unicorn, have been LEGO builders and collectors most of our lives. LEGO has always been a relaxing therapeutic way for me to think, relax, moc up engineer techniques, creative play and fun. And then we were apart of this huge show first season in the United States(we had 6 commercials during the superbowl)produced by Brad Pitt, Fox and LEGO, called LEGO Masters. Teams of two LEGO builders compete against each other in ambitious brick-building challenges to be crowned the grand title of LEGO Master. Just watching the episodes as they air and hearing the yell for the countdown clock makes me jump out of fear and brings back the stress of the dreaded time-clock making it feel just as though we were back on set. Nothing like shared LEGO trauma to bring us all together.
Being apart of this show and LEGO was a once in a galaxy lifetime experience and I will forever love my LEGO Masters Season 1 family. With my futurist time traveling powers I wanted to share my experiences of being on a hit national television show and what it’s like to live with all eyes on you on tv and in the public media.
The show consisted of 10 episodes, all with some probability that we could fail and potentially be set packing our bricks home. Episode 5 was the build challenge that sent LEGO Masters Team Unicorn home, with our MegaCity Cyberpunk City build that took 18 hours to create, a physical and mental exhaustion that you only partially see shown on in every episode.
We filmed LEGO Masters from October to December 2019, and we would have to wait 3 months for the episodes to air on Fox after The Masked Singer in February 2020. For once in my life I knew the future and I couldn’t travel to the past, ironically the build we went home on was our Cyberpunk Futurist City and I knew the world would be watching.
This was the episode that 8 million watching would see us FAIL.
I fail at projects all the time, and I just makes changes, improve and iterate the project until success. I’m constantly learning new things and always approach with the mindset that no ones knows what they’re doing in the beginning. Research and development is do and redo, and I’m fascinated and obsessive about the engineering process to accomplish this, it’s how my mind works, in a world of organized chaos.
So why do I have this feeling that failing is different this time? It’s an indescribable feeling and nerve racking to know that 8 million people are going to watch you fail on national TV, doing something that you love.
Why do I care that 8 million are going to watch me fail?
I look back to the first moment we walked into the brick pit on set of LEGO Masters with 3.3 million bricks(already sorted by color and part) and I told myself to never forgot that gleeful amazing feeling that “I’m actually here, this is real life, never let your future self forget. You are you and there is no time to be anyone else because you are a magical unicorn engineer who plays with LEGO. Think this happens everyday?
This show is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, it pushes you physically and mentally. I can easily say that I work hard at everything I do, but I’m not my thoughts or words, I’m my actions. I used to think if I just followed my passion in life I would be successful(or my version in my head of what success looked like). I’m always learning and improving myself and skill set and I see that passion isn’t a plan, it’s a feeling. And feelings change. You create your life by living it, and my life is more than a game. I’m no stranger to viewing the future, my projects and the world for more than they could be. From my Tesla chip implant hack to LEGO Masters, I’ve worked my ass off doing something that hadn’t been done, and people didn’t always see my vision. The one thing that makes dreams impossible to achieve is the fear of failure. And if I listened to what others thought I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this now after an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity. I know I’m on the right path in the galaxy because things stopped being easy.
M.U.S.E — Magical Unicorn Software Engineer
I cover a lot of Venn diagrams in my professional and personal multiverse, I started and funded a scholarship for girls in STEM through the National Videogame Museum, I’m a software developer, bio hacker, cosplayer, 3D Printing enthusiast, maker, electronics and pcb designer, I work in the metal and machine shop, use dangerous power-tools on the daily, and create with LEGO. All of these things have one thing in common.
“I never learned anything from the process of it working the first time.”
What you see on TV is only a small part of what goes on during set filming and the long 18 hour days. The first episode build was a 15 hour LEGO build dreampark with 20 people condensed down to a 45 minute episode. We had no access to the internet or reference photos, and I was questioning my head as to how a giraffe looks. “Wait does a giraffe have ears?”
I want my work and projects I share to move people to change something in their lives or make something magical that inspires.
If in the 1800’s if you told people you could fly in the air in metal tube and travel around the world in a short amount of time people would generally try to burn you at the stake for sorcery.
People generally don’t like it when other people change or do something that makes them feel awkward or insecure. I was home-schooled, and I never experienced people or kids telling me I was doing something that wasn’t “cool” by their standards.
If you don’t expect to be wrong, you won’t come up with anything creative. It’s not failure, it’s a creative iterative process.
Surround yourself by people that know more than you, ask questions, learn, fail, make and share.
After we had wrapped filming for LEGO Masters I grabbed lunch with my mentor and former boss from Marvel Studios. Quick backstory about my failure: I applied to work at Marvel Studios in 2008 and I didn’t get the job…the first time. I received feedback on what I should improve upon and that I should apply again in the future. I could have given up, that would have been easy, but I didn’t. I spent the next year improving above and beyond and one year later I was hired at Marvel Studios.
Fast forward 10 years to and I’m sitting on the patio on a nice sunny day in Los Angeles in December with my former boss from Marvel. I told him I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and encouragement he gave me 10 years ago at Marvel Studios. He gave me the Stan Lee response as any good mentor does…
“With great unicorn powers comes great responsibility. Now, what do you do with your unicorn powers?”
Here is to the future, failure, magic, unicorns, yourself and the unknown.