Fighting Fire with Actress, Singer, Songwriter, and Producer MR Mayo
Photographer: Alex Hazel Studios

Fighting Fire with MR Mayo: Actress, Singer, Songwriter, and Producer

Miranda Rae Mayo (MR Mayo) is most recently known for playing Stella Kidd on NBC’s hit television series, Chicago Fire.

Her artistry goes beyond acting, though, as she is currently pursuing her musical endeavors as a singer/songwriter under the moniker MR Mayo. We took a moment to chat with MR about her role on Chicago Fire and the direction of an “easy listening” sound she’s developing with her forthcoming album.

Chicago Fire has seen you play a character with significant strength and tenacity. How does Stella Kidd’s personality traits translate to your own?

MR Mayo: I think that a lot of who Stella is comes from her being a product of her environment and the culture of the fire department. When I think of myself as an actor, I’ve learned a lot from Stella when I play her. She can be very militant in the way that hierarchy, discipline, and knowing your rank is a big deal for her. That’s something that I initially had a lot of resistance to, but I have also learned the benefits of discipline and reliability and showing up. 

Chicago Fire has seen you play a character with significant strength and tenacity. How does Stella Kidd’s personality traits translate to your own?

MR Mayo: I think that a lot of who Stella is comes from her being a product of her environment and the culture of the fire department. When I think of myself as an actor, I’ve learned a lot from Stella when I play her. She can be very militant in the way that hierarchy, discipline, and knowing your rank is a big deal for her.

That’s something that I initially had a lot of resistance to, but I have also learned the benefits of discipline and reliability and showing up. All of that was something she learned from her superiors, and I gained the same traits from my own superiors. 

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Do you think Stella is someone you would hang out with? Is she somebody you would get some drinks and go to a party with?

MR Mayo: One-thousand percent yes! Stella loves a good time. She can get in her head when it comes to her career, but with anything else, Stella is very “everything’s gonna be okay.” I would love to have a beer with Stella, and I would invite her to many gatherings. 

You’re currently recording your first studio album, and you’ve performed publicly now on a few prominent platforms. What could a new fan who didn’t know you were into music expect from your project?

MR Mayo: A new fan could expect a lot of easier listening. That’s kind of the direction that I’m headed in. It’s a lot more meditative and easy. My personality is very gregarious and bold. When I was first thinking about music and how I wanted people to feel at a show, I initially thought that I wanted a lot of upbeat stuff and for it to be fun.

I wanted people to be dancing around, which is not to say that that’s not coming, but lately, I’ve been recording and writing music that is very heartfelt and easy to listen to. Some of my big influences are Norah Jones, Lauryn Hill, Amber Mark, and Amy Winehouse. I’m just trying not to fight the process and allowing stuff just to happen. Sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.

There’s a part of me that even tightens up at the sound of “you’re recording your first studio album.” It sounds very official and very eerie. I just know that I love jamming, I love writing songs, and I love singing. My main goal is to be gentle with my spirit and be tender with the process by allowing it to come as it comes. I think I’m in a fortunate position where my livelihood is taken care of, and I can afford to take my time getting to know myself in this creative process. 

New Arrivals: Breakaway Edit

What made you decide to do music now? Is there any significant event that happened in your life, or did you just feel in your spirit that this is something you needed to do?

MR Mayo: I’ve always wanted to sing professionally. My dad was a jazz singer in his younger years, but when he began raising my sister and me, he stopped working professionally as a musician. I don’t fully know why, but there was always something in me that was drawn to music. That’s what actually got me into acting because I started doing musical theater, so music was always there. I just needed to take that leap and go for it. It’s something I haven’t done, and it’s just something that I feel motivated to do now.

I think I just feel more curious than anything, and that shift feels friendly. It doesn’t feel like there’s this harsh expectation where failure and success are so defined. That’s part of the reason why I feel open and available to continue to show up for my music—having this fixed vision of success and failure and having to make it can be excruciating. For me, I’m a lot more motivated by curiosity.

With your event, The Eleutheromania Experience, you describe it as an intense and irresistible desire for freedom. Would you agree that you don’t want to be bound by the pressures of being successful but rather being free within your art?

MR Mayo: That’s just where I am today. If we had done this interview, maybe a week after I had wrapped filming, I would’ve possibly been in a totally different space. I think after wrapping the season, especially because we filmed through a pandemic, that there is a part of me that is tired and just needs to rest. – but there’s also a part of me that, at this moment in time at 1:13 pm on May 13th, cannot currently process getting enough rest.

A big part of my creative process is allowing myself to be exactly where I’m at in this moment and trusting that there is goodness to be reaped.

Do you feel that there are any techniques that you’ve taken from either industry that have helped you with the other? (Music vs. Acting)

MR Mayo: Just being curious and always being open to observing and studying is how anybody gets great at anything. One of the things that I am learning and leaning into is my “No” and how to trust my intuition around where I’m getting feedback. At a certain point in my career, I was very much like a sponge and saw something to be learned from everyone in every environment.

Now I’m learning to trust my own perspective and don’t necessarily have to take on board what the other party wants me to take on. If something doesn’t feel right, I’m learning that I should lay that down and move in a pleasurable direction that feels lubricated. My life is the most magical when I flow like that.

MR Mayo
Photographer  Alex Hazel Studios

You’re adding a new producer role to your resume with the show “Here She Comes.” What can you tell us about that project right now?

MR Mayo: “Here She Comes” is a dramedy about sex and intimacy coaches who are leading the world to the next sexual revolution. Meanwhile, all of the religious zealots, scared spouses, and scamming pickup artists are trying to stop them along the way. This show is all about women’s empowerment, specifically, the empowerment of feminine Yin energy and compassion.

Brené Brown talks about moving past shame, explicitly regarding our sexual and erotic desires and wants. There’s so much healing to be experienced and expressed within us listening to our erotic desires, but what happens is, a lot of us are too ashamed. That shame is a big part of socialization and an even more significant part of colonization by shaming us into submission. The show is written by Jessica Javi, who is a big anti-war writer, director, and filmmaker who lived in Palestine for years. All of her work was based on freedom for Palestinians and humanity.

Is there anything else that you’d like our readers to learn about your path and journey?

MR Mayo: I want people to know that I’m in the process of self-discovery. It’s vital for me to move throughout that process and that journey from a place of love and tenderness. That’s how I hope to be in space with others – very gentle and very tender as we all move through this challenging traumatic time in human history.

Photographer  Alex Hazel Studios
Hair  Jada Richardson
Wardrobe Stylist  Sal Yvat
Creative Direction  Ashton Easter x 13 Publicity
Photo Assistant  Sean Davis

Stay Social With MR Mayo

Instagram: @mrmayo


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