Jennifer Smart loves building with Lego. She has done this most of her life. And part of the fun is taking his amazing builds to Lego conventions and listening to the commentary.
“People will come up and look at something I’ve built and say, ‘Oh, my God! It’s incredible !’ She said. “And they look at the guy sitting next to me and say, ‘You did a great job! “
“It’s a lot of fun to be able to shatter stereotypes.”
Smart and her friend and teammate Susan Earls will be making it on national television when “Lego Masters” Season 2 begins airing on Fox (Tuesday, 7 p.m., Chapter 13).
Smart was recruited to appear on the show by producers who saw her posts online displaying her Lego projects, ranging from stunning murals to giant statues.
“They contacted me and at first I thought it was kind of a joke,” she said. “I had to do some research. And then I was like, ‘Oh, this is a Brad Pitt production company. OK, sign me up! ‘ “
(Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment is co-producing the show with Endemol Shine North America and Tuesday’s Child Television.)
But, the producers told her, she had to find someone to team up with on the show. “They said you had to find another mother to partner with,” Smart said. “And trying to find a mother who could be part of her family to film was actually pretty hard to do.”
She didn’t have to go far to find a partner, however. Smart and Earls both live in American Fork. They met through ULUG (the Utah Lego User Group), “and Susan was on board and able to help me,” said Smart. “She was a great teammate.
“None of us take ourselves too seriously,” Earls said, “So it’s a perfect way for us to work. And we had so much fun!
Fight male domination
The Lego world is “definitely male dominated,” Smart said. “When we go to conventions, the majority of attendees are men. But I think the number of women starting to step into the really big brick worlds – the Lego community – is increasing. “
A third of the contestants for Season 2 of “Lego Masters” are women. There are 12 teams of two – six men-men, four men-women and two women-women.
“And we were happy to see that,” Earls said.
Perhaps the growing number of women building with Lego is part of a bigger shift in culture.
“Traditionally science, architecture, math – that sort of thing has been dominated by men,” Smart said. “And I think it was absolutely blown away. There are so many more women in these fields. The same with Lego, because I think it uses similar parts of our brain. Those of us who love math and architecture and stuff like that really eat that as a way to express ourselves. “
“And I think we really have a real advantage,” Earls said, “because we’re maybe more artistic or more detail-oriented. I think we have a little advantage over the men.
Whether this is played out on “Lego Masters” will be seen over 10 episodes. Candidates are offered a different challenge each week. Will Arnett returns as Season 2 host, and Judges Amy Corbett and Jamie Berard assess builds and take down a team every week. Well, most weeks.
Living with Lego
Building with Lego bricks is nothing new for Smart – it still has buildings that date back to the ’70s. “I loved it as a kid,” Smart said. “It was something my brother and I did all the time.”
While Smart has been building since she was a child, Earls “didn’t really start playing with Lego until my first child was 5 and I started buying them for him.”
“The mom in you brought him out,” Smart said with a laugh.
Earls said she believes Lego could be bigger in Utah than in many other parts of the country, given the number of children in the state. But Lego bricks aren’t just for young people.
“Coming out of state at different conventions – I think it was a little different,” Earls said. “We’re not twenties playing with Lego, we’re moms who can do it on a large scale for fun.”
In the Lego community, there are those who at some point put away their building blocks or sell them, Smart said. “They say to me, ‘I’m not a child anymore, so I’m not going to play with my toys. “”
It never happened to him. “Maybe I took a little time out, but I always kept my Lego. And I was just waiting until my kids were old enough that we could pull out the Lego and start playing with them again.
Like everyone else, the two women started buying Lego sets and putting them together like jigsaw puzzles.
“Then we started tearing up those sets and using the pieces to build our own things,” Earls said. “And once we had our own Lego store in Utah, that was it. We could go out and buy bricks by the cup and build whatever we wanted. “
But neither of the two women began to see Lego bricks as more than toys and started using them “artistically” until just a few years ago.
“That’s when I really started doing some giant things. And I actually didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing, ”Smart said with a laugh. “But there has been a huge response online for what I have created. So it’s been really, really fun to be able to share them with the world.
Earls is the mother of two children: a 15-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl. Smart is the mother of six children aged 12 to 27.
“My adult kids think it’s great,” said Smart. “They love me to do this.
But his younger brother is not particularly interested. “Maybe he dated too much.”
And Earls said his kids are less involved than they once were. “Now that they’re teenagers, they don’t want to come in concert with me as much as they used to. “
“You know what?” Smart intervened. “You have street credit now. “
“I just hope to make them proud,” Earls said with a laugh.
“Lego Masters” brings together 24 contestants who have dedicated thousands of hours of their lives to building building blocks and asks them to do what they do best. But it’s not exactly the same as home construction projects.
“To really put what you want into it, you have to take at least two weeks,” Smart said. “Wonder Woman took me three months.”
But on the show, instead of working on a build for weeks or even months, they have to do it in hours. (In Season 1, teams got between seven and 3 hours in Episodes 1-9, and the final three teams got 24 hours in Episode 10.)
“It added a sense of pressure that doesn’t usually come with building Lego,” Earls said. “There is this giant clock above you that you are constantly looking at as it spins.”
“It completely changes the way you build,” said Smart, “and that was probably the most important thing that got us all off balance.”
And, instead of working from home, alone or with a few friends or family, they not only worked in front of a studio audience, but knowing that millions of viewers would end up watching them.
“You can’t do without it because while you’re building the camera pops up,” Smart said. “It absolutely adds to the pressure and tension. It’s getting a little out of your head. “
That and glancing over to see what their competition was doing.
“It’s fascinating to see how everyone on the show is a whole different manufacturer,” said Smart. “We all have different building styles. We all have different specialties.
And one of his favorite parts of the competition was that “every challenge kind of took us away from what we were comfortable doing and made us do things that we would never do with Lego.” So we were all unbalanced in all competitions.
A shattering experience
They have somewhat different feelings about the “Lego Masters” challenges that require applicants to build elaborate projects just so they can be broken into components.
“I totally agree,” Earls said. “Usually I build something to put it on the shelf and let it sit there forever. So the chance to build something that I can see destroyed was pretty intriguing. “
Smart, on the other hand, was more reluctant.
“The look on my face – even one of the judges commented on it and said, ‘You seem not to be happy with this challenge,’” she said. “And I’m like ‘No, no, no – what you see on my face is I’m thinking about how I can’t stand destroying Lego.’
“But you know what? Wait. Hang on a second. It’s your Lego. Go ahead and destroy it. It’s absolutely fine. It’s okay,” she added, laughing. just took a second to adjust. “
Both women said “Lego Masters” was a great experience and that they would do it again in a second. And that the show gave them the chance to show millions of people that they don’t just play with toys.
“I don’t spend hundreds of dollars at the Lego store on toys,” Earls said. “I spend hundreds of dollars on Lego bricks for adults. … I think there are a lot of people who think that these are just toys, but it takes skill and knowledge and it takes a lot of technique.
“It’s a combination of sculpture and color, coordination and math and architecture and engineering of how things are going to evolve together,” Smart said. “There are so many different parts of your brain that are needed to put these constructs together. It is difficult.”