If you own a television, then our next Women We Love probably needs no introduction. But, we’ll give you a brief one anyway. Miranda Rae Mayo is one of the newest stars of the hit NBC series “Chicago Fire,” where she plays Stella Kid, a badass, funny female firefighter that we want to be friends with IRL, if only so she’d push us to be just a little more fearless.
Speaking of IRL, Miranda herself is pretty awesome. Here, she’s telling us about how he mom encouraged her to pursue her dreams, how she deals with career pressure, and why she thinks Chicago is kind of like Woodstock.
Take it away, girl.
How did you get started as an actress?
When I was about 12 my mom took me to audition for a local theater program called The Junior Company Players. It was a group of kids performing a 10-15-minute medley of songs opening for our local dinner theater show. I had always loved to sing, but I never knew how much I wanted to act until I joined that program and was introduced to live theater.
When did you land your first role?
My first role that I was ever excited about was Gabriella in Fresno’s Children’s Musical Theater production of High School Musical. It was the first time I had ever gotten cast as the female lead in anything, I was 17 and I was ecstatic.
Were you always serious about pursuing acting as a career? Did you have a “back up plan?”
When I first decided to move out to LA my mom told me “Just take two years and give it all you’ve got, and if nothing comes of it then just come back home and go to school. School will always be there, but you’re only young once.” So that was the plan.
How do you deal with the “unknowns” of your business, for example, not knowing if you will get a part or if a show will last?
A spiritual practice and having creative outlets besides acting are pretty vital to my sanity and great friends. But meditation and journaling whenever I’m feeling anxious or scattered have helped me so much in remaining positive and fully accepting that there are just some things that I have no control over. And wine. Wine is important too.
What was your reaction to the news that you earned a role on Chicago Fire?
I was shocked. I had sent in an audition tape two and a half weeks prior and hadn’t heard a word since so I had just forgotten about it until I got the call. I was beaming!
What has the show been like for your career?
Like a catapult, a masterclass and a sanctuary all in one. I have never been on a project as well-known as this one, and with a cast and crew as cohesive and supportive. I learn something new every day and am lucky enough to call these people family. It’s an extremely rare atmosphere that I am so grateful to be a part of.
How are you liking Chicago?
It has quickly become one of my favorite cities in the world. I love the people; the food and summer is so fun. Everyone here seems to appreciate the sunshine way more than we do in California. We tend to take it for granted but in Chicago it’s like Woodstock love every time it gets above 70 degrees.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Little hinges swing big doors. It’s the little things you do every day that makes the biggest difference. (Preston Davis, author, life coach, spiritual practitioner). Your job is not to book the role, your job is to give the best audition you can. You will drive yourself crazy thinking about things that are out of your control. Just do your job. (Michael Willett, Actor, artist)