How I'm Skirting the Rules

I’m Mixing Tech, the Arts, and Activism to Start a Revolution

Lucia Brawley, co-founder of amp.it and executive producer of The World Cup of Hip Hop: Take Back the Mic, took a chance on love and it forever altered both her personal and her professional path. Now she's helping artists get their chance to be in the spotlight.

Lucia Brawley, co-founder of amp.it
Lucia Brawley’s tech startup is leveling the playing field for artists by allowing all to have an opportunity to be in the spotlight.

After giving up a government job opportunity to pursue a romantic relationship, Lucia Brawley proved that her next career move laid in the hands of love. With her husband, Lucia co-founded the tech start-up called amp.it, which grants an artist the dream of being recorded, filmed, or casted in a TV show by putting the power in fans’ voting hands. From this sprung her role as executive producer of The World Cup of Hip Hop: Take Back the Mic, a digital series that shows the viewer the trajectory started by amp.it. An actress in movies like World Trade Center and Lora, Lucia used her entertainment knowledge to open up a whole new reality for emerging artists by helping them get seen—regardless of whether or not they have money for costly release campaigns. Here is how following her heart has helped enable artists who might never had gotten access to the spotlight the power to shine.

I’m Skirting the Rules by disrupting the “gatekeeper” mentality in media and entertainment, democratizing the selection process of what content gets made and seen. The technology behind amp.it gamifies content. It empowers a critical mass of fans to cast, curate, and direct the outcome of a show, series, film, or even who gets a record deal—thereby enabling creators to grow, understand, and retain a community of fans who keep coming back with each new release.

A time when I found the possible (a creative solution) within the impossible (against incredible odds) was when we were getting ready to launch our company with our digital series, The World Cup of Hip Hop: Take Back the Mic, at the end of 2014. We were in talks with a top global brand to underwrite the entire first season. After agreeing to sponsor us, they went AWOL in the 11th hour. So I led an IndieGogo campaign to crowdfund the shoot and proceeded to reach out to everyone I’d ever met to help us get going. With a fraction of the funds that the sponsor would have brought us, our crew of three embarked for the barrios and favelas of Brazil, Colombia and Jamaica to film the hip-hop artists whom fans had selected on our amp.it platform.

The team had no return tickets. We raised the money as they went along, sometimes under very hairy conditions. But we finished the shoot, recruited amazing sponsors and a Grammy-winning celebrity for our finale, and we ended up getting an Emmy nod in our first six months of existence. We are now in the middle of our second season, which was financed entirely by investors and production partners, doubled the number of countries in the show from three to six, added an interactive virtual-reality app, and just received another Emmy nod.

An example of how listening to my intuition has helped me is when I decided against going to Washington, DC to work at a prestigious government job. Instead, I followed my heart and stayed in Los Angeles to pursue a relationship with my now-husband and the father of my children. It wasn’t the “wise” or “politically correct” choice, but it was the right choice for me and I’m very grateful I made it.

My secret talent is learning languages easily. So far, I can speak English, French, Spanish, Hungarian, and Italian.

My biggest rebel move (or my biggest risk) was co-founding a tech startup with my husband, after a lifetime in arts and activism.

A woman is most powerful when she is driven by a purpose greater than herself.

A time I wish I’d listened to my inner knowing more was when I earned a nice amount of money acting in movies and commercials in my twenties. I wanted to invest, but I let someone discourage me from doing so, partly because I felt a bit confused and overwhelmed by the whole process. I should have trusted myself, researched my options and moved forward to grow my money for the future. I will never make that mistake again.

The female disruptor who most inspires me is Hillary Clinton because she hasn’t let 30 years of misogynist witch hunts stop her from blazing trails for little girls like mine.

My advice to my younger self would be to meditate. When you relax, trust yourself and are present, you know the right thing to do.

My favorite life hack is not letting the perfect be the enemy of the great.

*Additional reporting by Sophia Melissa Caraballo