One of the latest waves in toys is “geek chick,” toys that let little girls dream of becoming a coder, scientist, engineer or any career that uses STEM/STEAM. One company that’s making a big splash is a new female scientist doll line, Project Mc², which also a has a live action Netflix Original Series based on it.
MTV News got a behind-the-scenes look at the franchise with two of the people involved in the Project Mc² line: Katiedid Langrock is the Story Development Manager at MGA Entertainment; and Isaac Larian is the CEO of MGA Entertainment and the creator of the Project Mc² franchise.
MTV News: What inspired you to get involved with the Project Mc² line?
Katiedid Langrock: Are you kidding? This job is a dream! We get to introduce the world to these amazing characters, whose friendship and fashion sense are only surpassed by their intelligence and perseverance. It helps that I also believe that smart is the new cool, just like the brand says. It's so rewarding to have the opportunity to bring to what is already true in the classroom to girls with entertainment and toys at home.
MTV: What inspired you to create these dolls?
Isaac Larian: When I was a student of civil engineering at California State University Los Angeles, I only had one female classmate, and to be honest, she was the smartest one there! Unfortunately, things have not changed much since then; females are still being underrepresented in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) fields. I would really love to see the next CEO of a huge, successful tech company be a female. To get there, we must ensure that girls are interested in STEAM early, and that is my goal for the Project Mc² franchise.
MTV: What kind of feedback have you been receiving about the line?
Langrock: It's been ridiculously incredible. My friends keep posting articles they read about Project Mc2 on my Facebook wall. Parents are thanking me. Teachers are thanking me. All the liking, sharing, re-posting, and re-tweeting! It's #amazeblogs! But the real score is from the girls that are buying our toys and binge watching our Netflix and AwesomenessTV YouTube episodes. They're so stoked to have a doll that looks like a real girl, dresses like they do, and also comes with a science experiment that they can recreate again and again. It's a total win-win-win.
Larian: The reaction to the entire Project Mc² franchise has been great. The doll line launched the same day as the Project Mc² Netflix original series, and we have been hearing a lot of positive buzz about both. Consumers have responded so well to the four characters; McKeyla McAlister, Adrienne Attoms, Bryden Bandweth and Camryn Coyle, and their experiment sets, especially. Girls are having fun creating their own lava lights, volcano eruptions, glow-stick necklaces and blueprint skateboards, and parents love the learning experience integrated organically to how their girls play.
It is amazing to see that young girls are having a blast (no pun intended) with science! Feedback on social media has also been off the charts. Public figures are even supporting our quest for science education for girls. For instance, Chelsea Clinton tweeted about the franchise on the first day our series was live! We have moms posting regularly telling us how much they love these dolls, and how they bought one, but now want all four.
MTV: How did you get involved in STEAM?
Larian: I have a degree in civil engineering from California State University Los Angeles. Science and math were my two favorite subjects in school, and I carried these interests with me throughout career.
Langrock: My dad is a retired middle school math and science teacher. He's always rocked a mad scientist vibe: growing mold just to watch the design, growing pineapples in coffee mugs, casting rainbows on the walls, waking up us kids to look at stars through a telescope or take a bird-watching sunrise hike. STEAM has been part of my life long before it had a cool acronym. You could say it's part of my DNA.
MTV: Why do you think it is important for other girls to become interested in STEAM?
Larian: As I mentioned, females are still vastly under-represented in jobs that require STEM/STEAM skills. In order to further innovation in the world and ensure future great inventions, we need to encourage young girls to explore their curiosities and realize there is a much-needed, and wanted, place for them in STEM/STEAM-based careers. Project Mc² is meant to validate those young women who are already interested in STEM/STEAM, while also enticing girls who might not yet realize how fun science can be!
Langrock: Science, technology, engineering, art and math will literally sculpt our future, and these are areas where girls are not equally represented in as they enter higher education and the workforce. For sure that's an issue for all of us. Why would we want a future that hasn't been graced by and enhanced by the female voice in these super important areas of advancement? Project Mc2 is so perfect to get girls excited about STEAM in a way that is fun and engaging and already part of how they play. It's an on-ramp to the future, full STEAM ahead!
MTV: What aspect of Project Mc² are you particularly proud of?
Langrock: Can I say all of it? My role in particular for the brand is focused on the storytelling and entertainment, so I love the Project Mc2 Netflix original series and the fun immersive experience for girls with our website. I think the show does such an amazing job of not only bringing the characters to life, but showcasing them as real girls with real skills, ready to take on anything.
Girls today don't have to decide whether they want to be smart or pretty. Whether they want to be a cheerleader or a Mathlete. They can do it all!! It's such an exciting time to be a girl and Project Mc2 really casts a light on that. I'd have to say shining that truth-spotlight is what I'm most proud of, and we can't wait for girls to see what's still ahead.
Larian: I am proud of the whole franchise. A lot of work went into creating the dolls, the science experiment kits, the website, the smartphone app and the Netflix original series, which MGA produced with AwesomenessTV! We have amazing teams who have worked on all of these elements, and it's great to see that it is a winning formula. We are all encouraged to see that people are so interested in the products and that the Project Mc² franchise is doing what we wanted it to do: put a larger emphasis on STEM/STEAM education for females.
If I was to pick one thing that I like best about the dolls, it would be that they look like real girls, differentiating them from so many stylized or fantasy based dolls in the marketplace today. The Project Mc² dolls have premium hair, glass eyes and rooted eyelashes, and of course, gorgeous trend-right fashions. We have heard from moms on social media channels that they really like the realistic way these dolls look, which make them relatable and aspirational to girls. So much thought went into every detail of the Project Mc² franchise, it really shows smart is the new cool.