Miranda Mayo speaks truthfully about sexism, spirituality, empowerment and how to tackle idleness during the pandemic.
A beautifully talented artist that you may recognise for her break-through role of Stella Kidd in NBC’s Chicago Fire, Miranda Mayo talks to us about her artistic pursuits this past year: the unique filming process, her first feature film Going Places as well as how spirituality coincides with her creative process. Miranda is raw, honest and open, possessing a warmth and particular confidence that travels even through the zoom screen.
What made the character Stella Kidd stand out to you? Why did you feel drawn to audition for her?
Everything kind of just fell into place. Obviously, I didn’t know whether I would get the part or not but I was very excited because I had heard lots of amazing things about the show. The cast had a reputation for being so warm and welcoming which was something that I had been envisioning because I really wanted to experience being on set with people that felt like family. When I read the audition slides, I loved that she (Stella Kidd) was really feisty, sarcastic and playful so I was like this would be a fun role to play.
Do you think any of Stella Kidd’s character traits translate to your own or have they influenced you in any way?
I would say that Stella is much more rigorously routine, whilst I’m more ‘does this feel right in the moment?’ I really love her organised nature but as far as personality goes, I’ve been doing the show for so long it’s kind of inevitable that the character starts to take on some of the actor’s traits. On the screen it is the actor that you are seeing, the vessel that everyone is experiencing this character through.
Alongside Chicago Fire, you just finished shooting ‘Going Places’ in LA. How does working in film differ from television?
I have to say, I’m very excited to see the final product. Max Chernov, the director, was so lovely to work with and I feel really grateful to be a part of his first feature. As it was an indie film, the crew was small so everything felt very intimate.
In comparison to Chicago Fire, there was less of a machine behind the project. NBC/universal is a huge cooperation so everything that is done on Chicago Fire, needs to be approved by like 5 different levels such as the network studio and production. But with independent film it’s just the people who are in the room which is awesome.
It feels like the difference between an intimate ‘mom and pop’ pasta restaurant in Italy where everything is straight from the local kitchen right to you and a super nice 5 star restaurant where there are line cooks and a set menu. Both experiences are fantastic, they’re just different.
What about your character in ‘Going Places’, How do you connect to Jules differently to Stella Kidd?
She is completely different. Jules delivers drug money and kills people for a living. She is cold-hearted, very guarded, a little sadistic: the total opposite of Stella. It was interesting getting into character for Jules. I had back and forth phone calls with Max and asked him about some of the movies I should watch to understand his artistic vision and influences. A lot of it is just playing pretend, just imagining what would it feel like to do what she does day in and day out, what would get me to the point where I’d be willing to kill someone!
As a clear advocate for gender and racial equality, how do you think we can tackle sexism in the TV/ film industry? And furthermore, how do you think we can tackle sexism in general?
More women need to be in higher roles of leadership. I think that people who have been disenfranchised, intentionally kept out or have been at the effect of those different strategic injustices, we need to hear from them first and foremost. Especially women that have figured out a way, who have thrived in the system as it is. Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay…what brilliant women, we need to be talking to them.
Are there any specific women that you look up to?
I look up to my friends who are mothers. I look up to my mom who was essentially a single mother for the majority of time raising me and my sister. It wouldn’t matter what I got sick with but when I was younger, my mum would cuddle me, and be right there all up in my face like it would not matter. I miss her! Moms are incredible. I could never imagine how challenging it is to be a mom. You don’t get any days off and I need days off sometimes!
Speaking of empowerment, what empowers you when you feel unmotivated?
I think these past two years have been rough on everybody. For me, it is all about community so when I’m feeling super unmotivated and uninspired, I reach out. There are a couple people that I know like as soon as I talk to them I am just in a different place because their enthusiasm is contagious!
Feeling is very crucial for me at least in my creative process. And feeling good is the start of everything.
But also everything to me comes back to a spiritual practice so I‘ll meditate, or watch a Micheal Beckwith or Abraham Hicks video and it really helps me get back into alignment with the potential of what’s possible and that feels really good. I think anytime I’m not feeling good it comes from a place of limitation or the idea that I’m not good enough. And that just feels like a claustrophobic thought. But if I can expand my mind and align myself with abundance, joy and possibility, it feels completely uplifting and different.
Advice for aspiring creatives?
I think the advice that I need to hear continually is that there’s no one like you, creative what feels good and that can be enough. Let go of everybody else’s opinions. Don’t anticipate the way everybody else is going to interpret it. Just be really really clear of what excites you, what feels good. I have an amazing quote that Christian Stolte tells me all the time, so I’ll leave you with this: ‘Perfect is the enemy of good.’
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