2 Minutes With … Melanie Wallner, VP of PR & Marketing at the Drone Racing League

On sports fandom breaking down social and cultural barriers

Melanie is the vice president of PR and marketing at the Drone Racing League. Earlier, Melanie held key posts at CSM/LeadDog Marketing Group and DateMySchool. 

We spent two minutes with Melanie to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.

Melanie, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

NYC born and bred.

Your earliest sports memory.

I was 7 years old, and my friend took me to a Yankees game, where we sat behind first base. Derek Jeter was about to throw a signed ball into the crowd and all the older boys were jumping up and down, shouting, "Jeter, Jeter, give it to me!" Although I had no idea who Jeter was (I was more focused on not dripping my ice cream than the game), I wanted that ball—so, I stood up, smiled wide and said, "Please, sir, with a cherry on top." He tossed it to me. I still have it in my parents' apartment, sitting in my hat-shaped ice cream bowl from the game.

Your favorite sports team(s).

Despite working in sports, I'm admittedly not a sports fan (sorry!!). BUT… when the Drone Racing League builds out a team-based competition model, you better believe I'll have one.

Your favorite athlete(s).

Tyreek Hill. During our championship race in Miami last year, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill participated in the Drone Racing League's inaugural "First Flight," where we invite celebrities to fly the first lap of the course before racing begins. DRL champion pilot Vanover operated the drone, and Tyreek's reaction in the goggles was amazing—check it out!

Your favorite sports movie and/or video game.

My mom always quotes Yogi Berra, so it was really special taking her to a private screening and talk-back of It Ain't Over, thanks to his lovely granddaughter Lindsey Berra. He was beyond wise, warm and funny, and yet totally misunderstood. We were crying and laughing throughout the documentary, and I highly recommend it. You'll definitely come away with some life-changing sound bites. 

A recent project you're proud of.

I am so proud of DRL's massive growth across the board. We were recently acquired by Infinite Reality, a global provider of AI-powered immersive experiences, to take the next quantum leap in creating the most interactive and captivating experiences for our partners and fans. We also surpassed 15 million followers on social media. Our next-gen fans love our epic drone racing and freestyle content, which often goes viral. Our TikTok following skyrocketed by 10x in one year to 5 million. We doubled our audience on Youtube to 1 million subs in under twelve months. And we recently added 2 million followers on Meta's WhatsApp Channels, where Mark Zuckerberg said we were one of his favorite sports.

Someone else's project that you admired recently.

I still laugh at Away’s spoof of the Calvin Klein x Jeremy Allen White campaign.

Something coming up for your organization that you are excited about.

We are full-throttle ahead with Women Taking Flight, a groundbreaking program to elevate women in sports, technology and aviation. In partnership with the U.S. Air Force, we’re about to launch drone racing competitions, esports tournaments and STEM curriculum to recruit the best women drone pilots to fly in DRL and set a new standard for diversity and inclusion.

What sports can do that nothing else can.

Sports unites fans from different backgrounds around a common passion, breaking down social and cultural barriers in a way few other things can. One of my favorite memories is from our DRL Championship Race in Miami, when a 10-year-old kid yelled at the top of his lungs, "This is the best day of my life!" while sitting near three teen girls waving DRL glow-sticks and a cheering man from Germany who flew in just for the event.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the sports world.

Helping entrepreneurial teams scale their companies through strategic, break-the-internet PR and partnerships.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series,

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