Adversity will make you, not break you. Oftentimes we are faced with difficult scenarios, decisions or aching setbacks which can feel like there’s no coming back from or way to push on forward … wrong. It’s how you move forward in those times that shapes you, as adversity builds character, learning and tenacity. The greater the obstacle, the bigger the triumph.
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mikaela Phillips, an Australian-born, Los-Angeles living producer, actress and influencer. In 2018, Mikaela became one of the youngest showrunners in TV at the age of 22. In front of the camera, her celebrity interviews have reached over 250k views on Youtube. She is currently working on some major film & TV projects that are set to be released in 2021 & 2022.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
I grew up in the beautiful beach-side suburbs of Bayside, in Melbourne Australia. As a kid I was always outdoors and a bit of a tomboy, skating with the neighbours kids in the street and just running amuck from house to house. My mum has always been in the arts so I was exposed to a lot of different art forms from a young age, including painting, mosaic, clay, Broadway theatre and fashion. It’s proven to be a valuable mix considering what I do today.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always had a passion for the arts from a young age and was highly influenced by teen stars I grew up watching like Amanda Bynes or Hilary Duff. Flashforward to 18 years old when I had already been working in entertainment professionally for a few years, it was then that I had to choose if this was still the right career path for me. “Do I want to continue doing this? Is this the right path for me? I don’t know what I want to do…” were thoughts that plagued me one teary afternoon. I knew I loved it but felt like I was hitting a standstill and as a newly deemed adult at 18 felt the pressure to have all the answers for a lifetime. From there I gained clarity and this was a personal turning point for me and transition into what would be the next seven years of hard work, long hours, sacrifice, networking and goal-crushing success — which brings us to the present day.
The mix of both working in front of the camera in acting/presenting roles and producing, has really complimented each other nicely and I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to flourish and build a solid foundation in both.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Jeff Mygatt comes to mind. He’s a close acquaintance and amazing US cinematographer who’s worked on so many leading and Emmy-winning shows including; 24, Agents of SHIELD, Prison Break, Netflix’s What If (Renee Zellweger) and CW’s Super Girl and The Flash to name a few. What’s awesome about Jeff is how super down to earth and humble he is for someone with his list of credits.
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?
Hands down that’ll always be my mum (Chrys Phillips). She’s always been a supportive backbone and has sacrificed a lot over the years to give me a better life and more opportunities than what she had growing up and for that, I am grateful. Over the years that guidance has unconsciously helped shape me into the confident, strong and independent business woman I am today. A woman, who can make her own decisions with conviction and stand on her own two feet as I continue to navigate life, work and the trials and tribulations that come with it
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” There couldn’t be a more accurate quote. I have a few favorites but this one always seems to stick with me, especially when I’m often reminded of it by people’s lack-lustre attitudes or egos/desires for fame, status or wealth without doing the hard yards themselves. And that’s why this quote is relevant to me, as everything I’ve done, everything I’ve achieved, everything I put my mind to and continue to execute, is from a result of hard work. There’s no getting around it or Fastrack option to opportunity… we create our own opportunities and often I’ve found, people in positions of power not only respect that but are more inclined to support you if that’s demonstrated in your track record and character.
I am very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I’d love to! I’m all for diversity on the screen and when developing a new production or casting for one, I always have an open-minded approach and go based on talent, not ethnicity, height, weight, life choice etc.
1) Diversity not only showcases inclusion but it appeals to a larger audience demographic and gives people an opportunity to better understand different cultures seen through our mediums of TV/Film
2) Younger Gen of impressionable minds (kids/teens) look to their favorite shows or movies for inspiration, motivation, relatability or an escape from reality. It’s important they see characters of diversity that they can not only relate to but understand. Stereotypes featured in programming influences the way they interact with their peers.
3)By showcasing diversity in films, it not only enhances the entertainment industry but allows us to work creatively and efficiently as a whole. United.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Whilst most of the film industry shut down last year due to Covid, Australia was in a fortunate position to be able to continue filming and one of the few feature films to come out of that slate last year, is one I was producing! It was definitely an interesting and new experience to film during a pandemic and with a few restrictions to follow however it felt amazing to be able to create content and a story that’s heart-warming, cute, optimistic and exactly what people need right now! The movie is titled Madison and the Happiness Jar and is a coming-of-age, teen drama genre, which follows Madison Garner’s journey through family hardship and finding oneself, to love and ultimately self-empowerment through the notion of a happiness jar…
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Nothing happens overnight — Contrary to popular belief, “overnight success” is only the finished product and result of days, months and years of hard work and dedication. Which most of the time, includes overcoming certain adversities or setbacks
- Not everyone is going to be your friend. Competitiveness, envy and aversion can become more prevalent amongst your peers and/or relationships. This may be hard to understand or make an uncomfortable work environment, especially when you’re in a superior role, however this isn’t a reflection of you. Keep shining!
- Adversity will make you, not break you. Oftentimes we are faced with difficult scenarios, decisions or aching setbacks which can feel like there’s no coming back from or way to push on forward … wrong. It’s how you move forward in those times that shapes you, as adversity builds character, learning and tenacity. The greater the obstacle, the bigger the triumph.
- Be Prepared to make Sacrifices. This can be anything from; giving up your weekend off to stay in and work, to financially backing your own project or to friendships/relationships that no longer serve or support you.
- Rejection can be your friend. Hearing “no” is never what we want to hear but there’s always a silver lining. Sometimes rejections can be exactly what we need to steer us in a different direction or thought pattern we never considered taking, to push forward and ultimately cross the finish line of our original goal.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Thank you. I’d say I would like to see talent more supported and rewarded over popularity. It’s clear we live in a digital world where social media has helped attribute to that. “Trends”, “Goals” and “Looks” have become more influential and popular than a single mum’s story of entrepreneurialism, first pro female football player, or a kid busking on the Subway, homeless to running own business or independent filmmaker. Everyone has talent and there are so many unheard stories because people rather judge how many views or likes these individuals have, rather than the real gritty and inspiring lives and paths they’ve led to their eventual success.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!