Micayla Brewster ’17: From Broadway to Digital Nomading and Back

by Nathan Foster

For some, social media is simply a platform to share the food they eat or the concerts they attend, while for others, it’s a way to connect with old friends and maintain relationships with family far away. For Micayla Brewster ’17, social media is so much more, a passion that blossomed into a one-of-a-kind career. Just six years after graduating from Azusa Pacific University, Brewster has lived in more than 25 locations across the world as a self-proclaimed digital nomad and she recently launched her own company, The Social Team.

Brewster’s journey into a career in social media began at APU. A communication management major with a minor in public relations, Brewster knew she wanted to go into a communications profession, but didn’t know what that would look like. It was only when she took an introductory public relations class with Allison Oster, ’01, MA ’05, that she began to envision a career in social media. “I spent so much time and energy on social media already, but I had always heard it talked about negatively,” Brewster said. “Allison’s class was the first time I heard social media being talked about in a positive way, as it being a tool to communicate and connect with audiences, sharing important information while also having fun in expressing a brand.” Invigorated, Brewster wrote out a description for her dream job, with a list of things she’d like to do in a perfect world, and showed it to Oster after class one day. “She told me my job description was literally that of an account manager. I couldn’t believe that it actually existed. I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do.”

With a career path in mind, Brewster began getting experience by serving as a social media intern for APU’s bookstore (now the Campus Store), Dining Services, and at New Beginnings Community Church in Silicon Valley. She went on to win APU’s Battle of the Interviews during her senior year, after blowing away the judges with her “breathless excitement” for the hypothetical position (a social media account manager for Netflix). In the past, Brewster had tried to tame her enthusiasm and zeal, but it served her well in that moment and the years to follow.

“My passion and how much time and energy I dedicate toward this thing I love so much is one of my greatest skill sets,” she said. “I’m grateful for that experience because it allowed me to refine my interview skills while receiving critical feedback.”

During her time at APU, Brewster made a pivotal discovery of a company called the Skimm. Up to that point, she had mostly tuned out the news because it felt overwhelming. “I absolutely loved the Skimm because they distilled all this information in a way that kept me interested and informed,” she said. Brewster applied to their ambassador program and campaigned for the company on APU’s campus, hosting tables on Cougar Walk. “In hindsight, my enthusiasm may have been a bit much,” she laughed. “There’s a photo of me going to chapel wearing a Skimm sweatshirt with my Skimm tote bag and holding my phone with a Skimm case. I just really wanted to work for them.”

Brewster’s efforts paid off as she won the “Skimmbassador” competition, having gotten more people on her campus to sign up than anyone else at other colleges. One of the prizes for the competition was a letter of recommendation from the CEO of the Skimm. “I said that’s perfect, I’ll just give it right back to you. I’d like to work for you,” Brewster said. She moved to New York City for the Skimm internship in the summer of 2016. However, she found out the internship was only part-time and started looking for another job to work on her off days.

Brewster had seen a Broadway show called Something Rotten and decided to reach out to them to see if they needed a social media intern. “On a kick, I decided to modify the message I had sent to Something Rotten and sent it to my dream show that I knew I had no chance of hearing back from—Hamilton,” she said. “The next morning, I got a response from my future and now former boss at Marathon Digital, who runs social media for Hamilton, asking to schedule an interview with me.” Brewster got the job and began interning for Marathon at the same time as the Skimm. After the summer, she began working contractually for Marathon during her senior year at APU, before moving to New York to work for the company full-time. “It was the greatest experience. It catapulted my career and made me realize fandom marketing, specifically within Broadway, is where I wanted to head.”

Brewster loved her time working on social media for Hamilton. She ran the production’s Snapchat during their popular “Ham4Ham” performances, coordinated content shoots with the cast, and helped with numerous campaigns. The highlight of her young career came when she was assigned to write a tweet for the launch of the Hamilton app, which had to be approved by the show’s famous creator, Lin Manuel Miranda. “I spent hours studying his Twitter and composing a two-sentence tweet in his voice,” she said. “He responded back saying it was a “devastatingly accurate impression” of him and was good to post. That was one of the most exciting moments of my life.”

While Brewster loved her job, she, like many around the country, faced a pivotal moment in 2020 when the pandemic hit and Broadway shut down. She did a lot of self-reflection and decided to let go of her dream job at Marathon to pursue another dream, living in many different places across the world. “I constantly moved around, spending a month or two in each location before moving on to the next one,” she said. “I did freelance work virtually to support myself as a digital nomad.” Brewster started off in New Orleans, then rented a cabin in Montana with friends, before branching out to other countries. She has since lived in more than 25 cities in Ireland, England, Scotland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Romania, Croatia, and Mexico.

“I found digital nomading to be incredibly enriching and fulfilling. Plus, I made a lot of good friends across the world that I’m happy to visit when I have the opportunity.”

After two-and-a-half years, Brewster decided to settle down a bit. She was enjoying dinner with her best friend, Chase, in New York City one night when they came up with a life-changing plan. “We talked about all the challenges of social media management for Broadway shows. As much as we both loved it and wanted to continue doing it, it didn’t feel sustainable,” Brewster said. Many of her friends had burned out of the industry and she wanted to avoid the same path. “We decided to start our own company, where we could run social media for Broadway productions in the ways we wanted to, avoiding pitfalls and being more in touch with individual platforms.”

Their company, The Social Team, officially launched in September. Although the company is still in its infant stages, Brewster said they have been in talks with partners on Broadway and are hoping to sign their first major client in the next year. “For now, I’m spending countless hours building a dream content calendar and designing style guides and strategy documents for clients,” she said. “My number one goal is to have social media feel as enjoyable of a process as possible for everybody involved.”

The Social Team is headquartered in New York, where Brewster maintains a residence. However, she now lives primarily in Sevilla, Spain. While her journey isn’t what she imagined when she moved to APU for college, Brewster is truly living her dream.

Nathan Foster '20 is APU's public relations manager in the Division of Strategic Communication and Engagement.