Tai Freligh interviews LEGO Masters judge Amy Corbett…
Amy Corbett is a Senior Design Manager at The LEGO Company, where she drives the development of brand-new product lines, bringing new groups of people of all skill levels into the world of LEGO. She is also one of the judges on the U.S. version of the popular FOX show, LEGO Masters, hosted and executive-produced by Will Arnett. With season two premiering in the U.S. on June 1st, Flickering Myth’s Tai Freligh caught up with Amy to ask her about her background with LEGO, hosting the show, and what lessons learned from the first season she will applying to her judging in the second season.
You’ve spent the last several years employed by LEGO in Denmark. How did you end up working for them?
That’s a good question. I was always creative and loved drawing and designing things since I was a little kid, but I was also pretty good at maths and science, and really enjoyed them. So, when I found a course that could combine the two, I was very excited – Product Design Engineering. The whole way through school, I would always find playful and fun design solutions to whatever project I was given, no matter how boring the brief. I knew then that my calling was to be a toy designer. And where better than with the LEGO Group. It was the dream job, and I was super lucky that (after a very long and thorough interview process that of course involves bricks) I got a job there after finishing school. I’ve been there for 8 years now and I’m happy to say I still love it as much today as I did the first week I started. It’s taken me on some incredible adventures, and I’ve got to meet and work with so many amazing people. Here’s hoping for many more…
What was your first introduction to LEGO and what was it about the toy that appealed to you and still appeals to you to this day?
I always remember playing LEGO bricks and Duplo since I was a very small kid. My brother and I would tip out the bucket of bricks and build whole worlds that spiraled across multiple rooms, creating fantastic stories as we went. It was a toy that really brought us together and gave us a common ground to play. When we tipped those bricks out on the floor, the possibilities were endless. The only limit, our imagination! I think that’s the magic of the LEGO brick and why I still love it so much today – no matter your skill level, you can play with it, have fun and make awesome creations. And I love that it brings people together!
Is it difficult to go from being a behind the scenes kind of gal to a judging role on network television?
It’s harder than it looks (and than I imagined)! Day to day, I’m still giving feedback and input, but my design team know me so well and we have a common way of communicating. Then suddenly, I’m giving feedback to a whole new bunch of people, sending teams home and trying to explain everything to an audience at home, some of which are not so used to building with LEGO. On top of that, you have 14 cameras following you around and waiting for you to say something awesome. I’m learning all the time, but I love the new challenges it brings and getting to know the teams and how to give the best feedback to push them in the competition and bring out the best in them.
Have you watched the UK version of the show and if so, how is the U.S. version different?
Yes, I have. They are very different, but both have their charms. We learnt a lot from the UK version, and the US show just takes everything up a notch – bigger builds, tougher challenges and twists along the way. You never quite know what to expect. But just like the UK version, you can expect creativity in spades! The builders never cease to amaze me with their incredible talents.
What are you looking for when you judge contestants’ entries?
Throughout the competition, we are judging our builders on creativity, storytelling and technical ability. We want them to deliver on all of these in each challenge, so we really test them throughout the competition. In terms of technical ability, we want to see not only that the teams know the LEGO system in and out, but that they can celebrate it by using the bricks in creative and amazing ways. For storytelling, it’s all about capturing our imagination and thinking through every detail to tell one clear and engaging story. And as for creativity, we are looking for originality in the builds. Jamie and I have seen loads of LEGO builds in our time, so we really want to see something special from our teams and ideas we never would have expected. It’s not easy, but we have some truly incredible builders.
Are you taking lessons learned from season one into this season in terms of how you and Jamie interact with the contestants and provide feedback?
Definitely. Season 1 was new for everyone, so we were all learning a lot. We were learning every week and adapting as we went, as well as when we watched along at home. It’s pretty different from our day job, but we had a lot of great learnings to work with for Season 2, and we’re also a lot more relaxed second time around. I think we all knew a little bit more about what to expect too. But we also had a whole new bunch of builders, so we had to get to know them and their way of receiving feedback. We’re always learning, and getting better, which I think is super healthy.
Does watching how the contestants work through their design approach on challenges inform how you approach new product lines or designs for LEGO?
I always find it inspiring to watch our teams at work. Everyone has their own unique approach to the challenges, and I love getting a little insight into how their minds work. I always come home full of energy and feeling super inspired by seeing how much love and passion the teams put into their builds. It really is contagious!
How are the challenges this season going to be different from last year?
Ooooo, you guys are in for a treat. We have a whole bunch of brand-new challenges that not only push our teams to their limits, but also showcase the LEGO brick in a way you have never seen it before. There’s gonna be epic explosions, LEGO creations hitting the catwalk, and some very cool character building too. Not to mention all kinds of crazy ways we are testing out the team’s strength and technical abilities – think bridge challenge 2.0… I don’t want to give away too much. But prepare to see LEGO bricks like you have never seen them before!
Any particular challenges you are most looking forward to seeing how the contestants do?
I think my fave has to be the LEGO fashion challenge. For the first time, our teams are challenged to create wearable LEGO builds. It was such a fun episode – everyone was laughing and smiling the whole time. And there are some incredible builds. As the Design Lead on LEGO Dots, it also speaks to something that is really close to my heart. I love that it showcases the brick in a totally new way. I can’t wait to watch it!
Can you tell us about any new LEGO projects you are designing for release soon?
Well, you know everything is always top secret – we don’t want to spoil the surprise. But I can tell you that you haven’t seen the last of LEGO Dots. We have been playing a lot and have some fun new sets on the way…
Hosted by actor and producer Will Arnett, Season Two of LEGO Masters premieres Tuesday, June 1 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX, bringing imagination, design and creativity to life when teams of LEGO enthusiasts go head-to-head, with infinite possibilities and an unlimited supply of LEGO bricks. Once again, teams of two will compete against each other in even more ambitious brick-building challenges – including an earthquake tower challenge, a demolition derby, a LEGO fashion show and more – to be crowned the country’s most talented amateur LEGO builders. In each episode, Arnett, alongside expert Brickmasters and LEGO employees Amy Corbett and Jamie Berard, will encourage the builders, introduce incredible challenges and put their creativity and skills to the test. The competing pairs who impress the Brickmasters the most will progress to the next round, until the finale, during which the top teams will face off for a $100,000 cash prize, the ultimate LEGO trophy and the grand title of LEGO MASTERS.
LEGO Expert Amy Corbett is a Senior Design Manager at The LEGO Company. In this role, she drives the development of brand-new product lines, bringing new groups of people of all skill levels into the world of LEGO. Most recently, she was the lead designer to develop the brand new LEGO DOTS line, running a design team in the trend setting new creative line. She most notably worked on the LEGO Friends line, but had also worked as a part of the concept team for “The Lego Movie 2” and was a Creative Lead on the Disney product line. Before joining LEGO, Amy travelled as a volunteer to Fiji and throughout Africa. Now in her role at LEGO, she still uses her travels for inspiration. She graduated with honors and a degree in Product Design Engineering, giving her a great foundation for her career at LEGO. Corbett is originally from Scotland and now lives in Denmark working at LEGO headquarters.
PHOTO CREDITS: FOX