Wayne Law student takes aim on career in entertainment law

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Photo courtesy of Mikaela Armstead

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Mikaela Armstead initially planned to be a college theater major but didn’t think that would sit well with her parents.

Instead, she has found an excellent compromise by aiming to become an entertainment lawyer. Now a 2L student at Wayne State University Law School, she found her legal calling while in undergrad at Howard University.

 “Contracts actually drew me to the law,” she explains. “Like many middle-class Black people, I believed lawyers went to court and argued—until I got to Howard University where I got the opportunity to work closely with the university counsel to bring big artists to campus. After learning attorneys could do that, I started studying for the LSAT.

“My true passion is in the arts. Entertainment law—specifically entertainment contracts—will allow me the opportunity to protect Black artists that are often uneducated about what contracts should include. Representation is so important. We can’t be what we can’t see. Which is why it’s imperative we do a better job at portraying Black women positively in media.

“My ultimate goal is to have done meaningful work in the entertainment Industry. I’m not sure exactly what that looks like now, but I will soon.”

She started her career trajectory by earning a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in psychology, from Howard University.

“I felt it could help me become a better artist but it was a science that would put my parents at ease,” she says. “It definitely helps in law! We often are tasked with proving—or disproving—the mental state of a person and having a psychological background helps me be a better advocate.

“It also helps with my personal mental health. I’ve learned a considerable number of tools in my undergraduate years to be an advocate for myself and others, mentally. I run a mental health blog, The Sunflower Factory, that I ‘m extremely proud of.”

Armstead appreciates the many opportunities offered at Wayne Law.

“Coming to law school, being extremely open to learning new pathways my J.D. could put me on, I’ve had incredible opportunities I’m forever grateful for,” she says.

One of those opportunities is her current internship for the Detroit Justice Center; and she recently wrapped up a 3-month internship for Project Worldwide, an advertising holding company in Auburn Hills.

“I love the legal team at Project Worldwide,” she says. “They are incredibly supportive and have dedicated so much of their time to really teaching me valuable career skills. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

After serving as the 1L representative to the Black Law Students Association, Armstead now serves as BLSA president, and enjoys making an impact on the immediate 1Ls.

“But, I’m most proud of the more systematic changes in the law school that my e-board and I have decided to make a priority,” she says.

“BLSA does programming that aims to assist current law students, bridge the gap between law students and the community and make connections for law students that will aid them in their legal careers, such as alumni connections, and Wolverine Bar Association connections. In the current pandemic, we’re transitioning our usual programming to virtual programs and we hope BLSA is just as effective.”

She also is a member of the Student Board of Governors and the Women’s Law Caucus.

“I love that SBG allows me to always have an ear to what is going on in the law school,” she says. “WLC is super supportive and has always just been ‘women supporting women’ energy.”

Remote learning, during the pandemic and being distant from fellow students has been somewhat of a challenge.

“I’m an extreme extrovert so it’s been difficult, but I’ve used this as an opportunity to strengthen relationships I otherwise take for granted,” she says.

Those include friends she made during undergrad when she spent several months in the nation’s capital, interning as a diversity and inclusion intern at the American Institute for Research, and as a digital intern for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

“My internship at the American Institute for Research was incredible due to contributing to a real difference in diversity in research,” she says. “My internship at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee was also great. I learned so much about digital design for campaigns. These are tools I still use today. The person I was most excited to meet was (Congresswoman) Maxine Waters—she’s just as amazing in person. I love my friends in D.C., and miss them dearly.”

A lifelong resident of Detroit, and graduate of Cass Tech High School, Armstead has strong family ties.

“I’m very blessed to have both of my parents and a wonderful younger brother. I love my grandparents dearly and I am very close to a host of aunts, uncles and cousins who always keep me grounded,” she says.

In her leisure time, she enjoys live theater and traveling to new places; and gives back to the community by completing regular service initiatives with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and previously volunteered at The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project in D.C.




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