Brick by brick, Liam Mohajeri Norris, a first-year University of Arizona student, has been building a following with his Lego creations. After years of sharing his work on social media, he has earned the opportunity to build for his largest audience to date – as a contestant on season three of the FOX competition series “LEGO Masters.”
Mohajeri Norris, a student in the School of Theatre, Film and Television, says the show was an incredible experience that forced him to leave his Lego comfort zone.
“Not only are you building under a timer, but you also have to build these really large, beautiful models that will look good on TV,” he said. “That’s very different than what I and most Lego builders usually build.”
Mohajeri Norris is also making history on the show. He and his mother, Emily Mohajeri Norris, are the first mother-son team to appear in the competition.
“As his mother, I was the natural provider of Lego sets and his sounding board,” she said. “I am his ‘ooh and ahh’ team.”
The next level of building
“LEGO Masters” features 12 two-person teams taking on ambitious brick-building challenges, with the winning team receiving the ultimate LEGO trophy, a cash prize of $100,000 and the grand title of LEGO MASTERS. Challenges from previous seasons have called on teams to create anything from sea creatures to theme park rides.
Emily Mohajeri Norris said the “LEGO Masters” studio in Atlanta is a builder’s dream come true, from giant lights shaped like Lego bricks to a wall display of 4,000 Lego minifigures.
“It’s such a joy,” she said. “There’s this amazing brick pit with over 5 million pieces and 3,300 different kinds of bricks. It’s amazing to have this gorgeous display of Legos at your fingertips.”
Most Lego builds are only seen by the builder and maybe a small group of family and friends. On “LEGO Masters,” Liam Mohajeri Norris said, he and his mother had to scale up their ideas to wow a national audience and impress the judges.
“On TV, our builds need to be big and recognizable from across the room,” he said. “There is a balcony that the judges stand on. They need to be able to know what your build is while seeing it from the balcony. You have to be able to convey the story through an instantly recognizable build.”
Video by Arlene Islas, University Communications
Building on a hobby
Like many children, Liam Mohajeri Norris began building with Lego sets at an early age. As he grew older, his interest in the hobby continued.
“When I was about 13 years old, I started a Lego design club for the kids in the community and I started participating in LEGO Ideas, where you can submit projects that could get made into actual sets if they get enough supporters,” he said.
Liam Mohajeri Norris is channeling his creativity into his time at the university as well. As an aspiring screenwriter and director, he says his time on “LEGO Masters” was incredibly valuable.
“I talked to every producer and director I could,” he said. “I learned a lot about presenting on camera, how to advertise, and how to network and connect. These are important in film and television, but also as general life skills.”
While Liam Mohajeri Norris continues his journey at the university, his Lego work shows no signs of slowing down. He will continue to produce building and tutorial videos for his YouTube page and will be part of a “LEGO Masters” reunion at the BrickCon Lego convention and exhibition in Seattle next month. In addition, he has a proposal currently being considered on LEGO Ideas: a posable figure of Link, the hero of the video game “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” If the project gets 10,000 supporters, it will be reviewed by experts for the possibility of becoming an official Lego set.
Even with the national exposure on “LEGO Masters” as he builds his brand, Liam Mohajeri Norris says he ultimately enjoys his hobby for the same reasons he did the first time he picked up a brick at 6 years old.
“Lego requires problem solving,” he said. “It’s relaxing and helps me reset.”
Season three of “LEGO Masters,” hosted by actor and comedian Will Arnett, premieres Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. You can stream previous seasons on Hulu.
Featured originally published on UANews.