Name:
LeeLee James
Where are you located?
Boulder, CO
What is your day job?
Student
Do you attend a makerspace/fablab/hackerspace?
Yes, Blow Things Up lab and Correll Robotics lab on CU Boulder’s campus, Solid State Depot in Boulder, and BLDG 61 in the Boulder Public Library.

Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

What kinds of stuff do you make?
How-to style videos, featuring wearable tech.

How did you get started making stuff? 
In my younger years performing as a drag queen, I was too poor to buy stuff or have things made for me. So, if I wanted a idea to come to life, I had to build it myself.

What is something that you’ve made that you’re really proud of? 
The wearable that started it all, my ‘3D printed motorized head piece’ featured in episode 1 of my vlog. It started out as a final project for my wearable technologies course last semester. I got a ‘B’. lol

 

What is next on your project list? 
A leotard covered in sound responsive LED lights.

what is something you’d like to work with but you haven’t yet? 
A brand deal with Merrill, to create a pair of biometric hiking heels

Any advice for people reading this? 
I advise you to go subscribe to my YouTube channel.

I see you’re an engineer, what kind of engineering?

I’m a Software Engineer

You state you’re Black, Queer, and an Engineer. Anyone that has been on youtube knows that there are lots of possibilities for toxicity there. Why do you feel it is important to represent those things, knowing you’ll have to deal with toxic comments? 

Yes,  there is such pervasive toxicity in the forms of racism, misogyny, transphobia, classism, etc.  Precisely the reason that I felt my visibility needed to be fully celebrated. Make no mistake, some of those toxic internet trolls hold space in the Tech industry, and impact the ways in which structures and cultures are cultivated, what technology gets created, and for whom that technology is most financially beneficial to target towards. That ties directly into class, gender, and race based bias under the veil of “what’s most profitably”.  Everyone knows this already though, right?

Internally, those structures and cultures express themselves through a whitewashed pipeline, inequitable hiring practices, fewer job offers, lower pay and stock offers, lack of representation in upper levels, and the workplace can oft feel like a combative and violent environment for underrepresented folks. Even in the classrooms that feed the pipeline, the demographics are majority white and white paying, and majority male identifying. We’re then tasked with doing the unpaid work of being the singular representatives of diversity in the space, and underrepresented folks are also forced to withstand expressions of resistance to the progress they’re inevitably creating. All while trying to create, and provide value, hone skills, and be productive as members of a team.

The toxicity isn’t just a YouTube thing, it’s pervasive everywhere in our society. My idea for the Twirling Tech Goddess is to inspire a generation that changes the demographic of who’s in the classrooms, and subsequently, who’s in the pipeline, the interview, the team, and the management, and the founders.

Who are the people you’ve used as role models or inspiration for your videos? 

I’m a huge fan of tech vlogs and self paced learning. I’ve taught myself to do so many things with tutorials. These days, most makers are used to digital learning, most specifically with the how-to format that many YouTube videos follow. Some of my faves are mentioned in my episodes and include Svetlana from the “Kamui Cosplay” channel,  Thomas Sandlander, and Marques Brownlee. Notably their consistently high production quality and detailed content.

Still, however, I didn’t see my intersectionality fully reflected in this space, so instead of waiting for someone else to show up and turn the party, I realized that I was perfectly suited to help move the needle.

Your video production looks great. Do you work alone or is there a team involved? 

YAAAASSSSSSSS, we are actually a duo, comprised of myself on the front end with project conception, script writing, and product execution. My business partner, the amazing Drummond West, is on the back end with media direction, production, and execution. Our powers combine to make the Twirling Tech Goddess.  Shout out to Drummond West!  There’s also the amazing support that both he and I receive from our families and friends, who have been so patient with us as we literally and figuratively blow stuff up.  It really does take a village.