Mera Mayde: “They told me it was impossible and I did it anyway” with Candice Georgiadis

At the end of the day, you’re the one responsible for creating your experience of life: What no one can ever take away from you is the power to choose how you feel about yourself, how you feel about something going on — the perspective you choose to take. Sometimes what’s thrown at you may […]

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At the end of the day, you’re the one responsible for creating your experience of life: What no one can ever take away from you is the power to choose how you feel about yourself, how you feel about something going on — the perspective you choose to take. Sometimes what’s thrown at you may really suck and be horrendously unfair… but that’s the one thing they can’t take, you know?

As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing award-winning actress Mera Mayde. An alumna of the University of Oxford, Mera has worked internationally on stage and screen for two decades.

On stage, she has starred in over thirty productions in several countries, including an RSC affiliated production of ‘The Good Woman of Setzuan’ directed by John Nolan, sold out shows in the London & Edinburgh Fringe, being a soloist for eminent French choreographer Jean Claude-Gallotta in an international coproduction, as well as having danced with the prestigious Hamburg Ballet and several other productions as a guest soloist.

On camera, Mera has collaborated with peers such as Cannes and BAFTA winning directors, worked with Platinum awarded musicians and was brought on as a German language expert by National Geographic.

Having been called ‘a gift to the movies’ she shares with us how she emerged out of German obscurity to do the impossible and break into a notoriously difficult industry, make her mark, move audiences worldwide and become an inspiration.

Thank you so much for joining us Mera! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?

It’s my pleasure; thanks for having me! Yeah, absolutely. I suppose I’ve always had this deeply held conviction that there is no reason all of us shouldn’t be able to live our dreams. Not quite sure which side of naïvely idealistic or determined visionary I fell on (actually probably blessedly naïve lots of the time), but it’s certainly helped me to live beyond odds as it were, and just go for things and be somewhat stubborn about them. I was born and grew up in Germany, and by the time I was 12 I had won triathlons, won races as part of Germany’s young sailing elite, moved house four times that I can remember, worked as a professional actress and won acting awards, and moved to ballet boarding school. In the next couple years I got various scholarships, skipped a year in school, moved abroad by myself and got into Oxford, at which point I started to be perceived as British more than German and was able to really start building my network in the English speaking market — I had come from no connections. And then a few years later I made the leap across the pond to Hollywood!

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I believe that nothing in this world is more powerful in really reaching people than a well-told story; it’s part of our makeup. A story that draws you in and let’s you have an experience will always be more compelling than even the best thought out argument. So I think that as storytellers we have both great power and responsibility. Movies can change someone’s life; they can inspire them, give them purpose, make them feel no longer alone. They can wake them up to what’s going on in society around them and move them to take action. All this is what’s always in the back of my mind when choosing projects, this sense of mission as a storyteller to make a difference and give a gift to people through the stories I bring to life as an actor. And I’m very excited for the projects and creative collaborations I’m in talks on for this year, but I can’t really divulge any details yet! Think fantasy for TV and heroines in history for the big screen!

In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?

Oh with my hair I’ve never been able to not stand out — I’m a very vibrant natural redhead. 😉 As I alluded to earlier I’m also a combination of German and British, come from a professional dancing background and have belonged to the German sailing elite and the British academia elite, so I’m quite the oddball in some colourful packaging. It certainly makes me pop out from the crowd here in LA! It’s been a beautiful journey to learn to embrace that rather than try and hide it. I recently read a book where a character says to the dad of a girl who doesn’t conform to her society’s expectations something to the effect of ‘her differences will be her strength, just make sure she has one or two true friends along the way’. That certainly resonated a lot.

Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?

So many times! Inspired by a chat with a wonderful agent at CAA I’ve recently come to think of myself as a goodie-two-shoe rebel: I’m so prim and proper on one hand, don’t ever drink or smoke and so on, but on the other hand I refuse to live my iife by anyone’s design but my own or to be held back by any circumstances that are just accepted as being a certain way. What’s that Cinderella quote — ‘Just because it’s what’s done doesn’t mean it should be done’? So when I first decided to accept the offer of a place at the very prestigious ballet academy of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier, and then later when I decided to move to England to first study acting and then study at Oxford, there was no way it seemed to be possible. There was no money in my family and just no way it seemed feasible (and that’s not even considering getting in in the first place). And I just decided I wasn’t having any of that. I wasn’t going to be held back by money, that just seemed ridiculous to me. Life needs to be lived, you know? That’s a fire always burning in me. So I set out to find scholarships, personal grants, government grants. I set out to convince people I was worthy of this, and I always stuck to what I knew I wanted. I’d always have the more practically-minded people around me with their well-intentioned rationality, who’d bring up doubts and ask about a plan B. Oh, especially when I first applied for a visa and made the big move to the US! But I always chose to believe in dreams and in possibility. When I was interviewing at Oxford, the one thought that kept circling through my mind was ‘They have to take someone. So it might just as well be me!’. Possibility.

In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂

I’m here. I’m living my dreams day by day. My whole career path really is a success story in that way — the entertainment industry in particular is notoriously difficult to break into, let alone make a living and success in. I was just this little girl growing up in Germany with no connections at all in the entertainment world and growing up in a foreign language market. And then I discovered the stage, and the screen, and began dreaming of being part of the heart of it all, and telling the stories that would reach the most people. So now I am and I do.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I owe a lot to authors! Books have always been a home to me and taught me to think big, think beyond limitation. I’ve also been blessed with random people who sort of acted as angels along my path — I remember a physical therapist I saw for a while to support my body with the strains of professional ballet, and she always expressed to me how she felt I was special in the way I was living my life, and she was really grateful to get to be inspired by me and so on. Having kind people encourage me like that and remind me of my worth meant so much. I also believe that the right people and teachers come into your life at the right time, and that has definitely been my experience. So there are teachers I’m grateful to, people who walked the path before me and showed me what’s possible, friends and family when they weren’t being doubtful out of protectiveness!

It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?

With my red hair, and the way kids are, and the fact that I excelled at a lot of things, but also always had to continue being the best so the money would keep flowing in from my various grants and scholarships that were financing what I was doing, I was bullied quite a bit and never really properly fit in. I was a bit of an oddball kid and I was really happy doing my thing in some ways, but also really lonely and sad in lots of ways. I had eating disorders and mental disorders in my personal environment growing up, divorce drama, and living away from home with a bunch of other kids from all over the place. Looking back, as hard as all that was at the time, it helped allow me to become and be who I am today, I think. It taught me independence, and being happy in my own company, knowing myself, and being creative about getting where I want to. Empathy. Real friendship. The stuff that matters!

Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)

At the end of the day, you’re the one responsible for creating your experience of life: What no one can ever take away from you is the power to choose how you feel about yourself, how you feel about something going on — the perspective you choose to take. Sometimes what’s thrown at you may really suck and be horrendously unfair… but that’s the one thing they can’t take, you know?

So with all that in mind, and literally talking about the importance of mindset, here’s what I tend to re-mind myself of…

‘Why ever not?’ As in, why shouldn’t this be possible just as well as it seems impossible? How could this happen? Challenge your brain to think on that, rather than how it can’t.

Like in that Oxford story… ‘Why not me?’ Seriously, why not you? I will sometimes be sitting there telling myself ‘I’m Mera freaking Mayde. Reason enough.’

‘What good is coming from this?’ My go-to first reaction when something doesn’t go quite the way I wanted it to. It also really helps to remember the instances in the past where you were so very glad retrospectively that things worked out the way they did, even if that was different to how you thought you wanted things to go.

Borrowed from Jen Sincero: ‘What’s the most audacious thing I can get away with today?’ This has been great for me for courage in everyday matters, like hitting send on that scary cold email.

And a last personal favourite: ‘If nothing else, this will make for a fantastic story when I’m sitting on Graham Norton’s couch.’ Yep, I’ve got a few good ones that I have full confidence his team will somehow, incredibly, manage to unearth. It’ll contribute to the general amusement quota, so really, you’re just doing your part in making the world a better place. 🙂

What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?

‘The true violence is the violence we do to ourselves when we are afraid to be who we really are.’ — Sense8

‘Courage of expression is the greatest gift of all.’ — Fall in Love Like a Star

‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’ — Eleanor Roosevelt

‘Someday, we shall harness the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.’ — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I love that quote about not asking what the world needs, but asking what lights you up and going and doing that, because the world needs more people who are lit up. I really believe in that. I find it so sad to see someone ‘just living’, never really daring to go after anything they really desire. On the flipside, it’s incredibly inspiring and powerful when someone is following their heart and making sure they’re truly living whilst they’re alive, not just existing. So I love to inspire and encourage people to find their groove and do their thing, and to really accept and recognize that doing so is one of the greatest gifts they can give to others — free yourself and it will give others permission to do the same.

Can our readers follow you on social media?

Sure. You can find me @meramayde.

Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!

Thank you, and to you!

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