If there’s one word that comes to mind when you think about Miranda Rae Mayo, it’s authentic. The Chicago Fire actress and Fresno, California native is very clear on who she is, and despite making her living as an actress, she isn’t the type to put up a front in her day-to-day life. What you see is what you get with Miranda, and there’s nothing quite as refreshing as that.
For us One Chicago fans Miranda is a familiar face – she’s starred as Stella Kidd for the last six seasons on Chicago Fire, and we all feel like we know her, like we’ve gotten to grow with her. But we wanted to go deeper into who Miranda is, not just for her fans, but for the people who have yet to fall in love with her, and what we discovered was exactly what she herself would describe.
You know those ice-breaker questions? Describe yourself in three words? Well, Miranda’s words were “vulnerable, sensual and appreciative,” and everything about her gives off that energy. We can add those to my original word, authentic. Miranda is Miranda, and from talking about how she first started acting, to her political activism, to what inspires her, it’s clear that she’s the type of person who feels things deeply and gives everything of what she is.
To singing, songwriting, acting. Miranda has many talents, and she can’t exactly pick between them. “They definitely all parts of myself that I can’t separate – I am in a polyamorous relationship with all of them,“ she told us.
Acting is “the path I am on right now and I am extremely grateful for that,” she told us, but that was never her only path, and it never felt certain, either. “My first role was on Law & Order: Los Angeles,” she shared with us. “I remember feeling so excited that I had booked a job. It had been over a year of me auditioning for TV and film and not booking anything, so when I finally did it felt so surreal and very exciting.”
Then came other jobs, till finally …Stella Kidd entered her life, the character Miranda feels is closest to her heart. “I’ve lived with her the longest. We’ve grown so much together.”
Growth is indeed the name of the game for Stella Kidd. The woman we met in season 4 barely resembles the confident woman of season 9, the one in a happy and committed relationship, the one who asks for what she wants, demands what she deserves, and isn’t afraid to fight for her dreams. And Miranda just wants to see more of that going forward, with a hint of vulnerability thrown in.
“My hopes and expectations for Stella are that she continues to rise up the ranks in the CFD, while experiencing a deeply fulfilling relationship with her man. I also want us to watch her fail while leading and then navigate those failures because, I think, that is ultimately what makes a great leader. The way they choose to navigate their failures.”
This is crucial, because more often than not women on TV aren’t allowed to make mistakes. They’re either horrible people, or paragons of perfection, and when those standards aren’t met, people often don’t know what to do with female characters. Or with the performances that bring them to life, either.
But Miranda isn’t thinking about that when she’s inhabiting Stella. She isn’t worried about the little things, instead she hopes “people take away love from my performances,” something that, I will confess, made me stop for a little and just smile. And it somehow gets even better, because she also hopes people take away: “the message that it’s beautiful to be human, and how gratifying it feels to embrace the parts of ourselves we’ve been taught to hide away.”
It’s, after all, all about “how to give ourselves space to grow and permission to be exactly where we are in our process.”
Yeah, just read that again and let it wash over you. Then read it again, before we continue.
There’s no good segue after such a profound answer, so let’s just say that, as good as Miranda is about expressing her love for her craft, she isn’t all work. No one is. And outside of work Miranda is passionate about “music, mindfulness, sex, sexual liberation, connection and kids,” a very eclectic list that, somehow, doesn’t feel like just a random collection of things put together, but instead like a window into a complex, and interesting woman.
Who has a lot to say about things to do around Chicago! It could be no other way, as the One Chicago shows film in the Windy City, and all the One Chicago regulars, are well, regulars around the city.
“Most days you can find me spinning or lifting with Emily Hutchins, the owner of On Your Mark Fitness. There is an incredible juice and crystal shop called Infiniteus on North Ave, I spend a good amount of my time and money there as well.” Write that down for if you’re ever in Chicago. But “I love meeting up with friends and just being together. This pandemic has taught me that I really value my connections with people, so, it doesn’t always matter where I am, as long as I’m around people I love.”
And as for inspiration, always one of our favorite get-to-know someone questions, you might look up to Miranda, but she’s got people she looks up to as well. “I’m inspired by different people every day. Some people that stay on my list consistently are my producing partner Ashton Easter, owner of 13 Publicity, she’s a mother and a small business owner, a mother, a wife and an incredible friend. I am inspired by my friend Olivia, she’s an art director based in San Francisco and is so insanely free and comfortable in and with her sexuality. It is beyond inspiring. Beyonce, Adrienne Marie Brown, and Michael Beckwith are just a few others.”
We find inspiration in many things, and especially after this interview, we will continue to find it in Miranda, a woman who, to prove my first adjective about her was absolutely on point, when asked about the BLM movement and her vocal involvement in social justice issues, only had this to say. “I think my platform just reflects what’s important to me, because I lack strategy. So, it’s not that it’s been a choice, but more of an extension of who I am and what I’m feeling. The Black Lives matter movement (for example) is important for all people everywhere.”
What she said. Everything she said, really.
Catch Miranda Rae Mayo on Chicago Fire on Wednesdays on NBC.