This 19-year-old, Los Angeles-based, Brazilian/Spanish model, named Miquela Sousa, or better known as @lilmiquela, appears to be your typical influencer.
Sousa’s Instagram account holds 530k+ followers and her feed consists of memes, inspirational quotes and typical “outfit-of-the-day” shots which feature coveted labels like:
- Proenza Schouler
(Just to name a few.)
Sousa also attends events like ComplexCon with other influencers and celebrity friends.
And in addition to that, Sousa uses her platform to support movements Black Lives Matter and transgender rights.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Sousa also made her music debut with her single “Not Mine”, which reached number eight on Spotify Viral in August 2017.
Sousa seems to have it all. Right?
But get this, she’s not real.
Like… she’s not a real human being.
Miquela Sousa is actually computer-generated.
And right now her creator is yet to be known.
Sousa tells BoF over chat:
“I’d like to be described as an artist or a singer or something that denotes my craft rather than focus on the superficial qualities of who I am.”
But real or not, “virtual celebrities” isn’t something totally new as the concept has actually been around for years.
In fact, the first sighting occurred in the late 1990s.
Remember the virtual band Gorillaz?
Musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett founded the band who went on to win a Grammy Award in 2006.
And just over a decade later, in 2013, Marc Jacobs designed tour costumes for virtual avatar Hatsune Miku.
Hatsune Miku is a sixteen-year-old Japanese singer who was been projected as an animated hologram and has collaborated with artists like Lady Gaga and Pharrell.
Miku also wore an exclusive haute couture gown by Givenchy’s creative director Riccardo Tisci.
And most recently, Louis Vuitton enlisted fictional video game character Lightning, a pink-haired avatar from the “Final Fantasy” video game series, for its Spring/Summer 2016 advertisement campaign.
Miquela’s Instagram has created quite an interest, with that, the influencer says her fast-growing following is highly engaged and has not been bought.
Both Paper magazine and New York-based fashion brand Area, have already featured Miquela on their platforms.
With that in mind, BoF asked a noteworthy question:
“Should it really matter to brands and publications if an influencer is computer-generated if the avatar has the same influence on its following than that of a “real” influencer?”