Miranda Rae Mayo on sexual exploration, Chicago Fire and mental health

Miranda Rae Mayo on sexual exploration, Chicago Fire and mental health

Miranda Rae Mayo has been a cast member on NBC’s hit show Chicago Fire since 2016, but there is so much more to the California native than playing the role of Stella Kidd. The multifaceted actress began her career in 2006 and has played a variety of roles, including Reece Shebani in The gameZoe Browning in days of our livesTalia Sandoval in Pretty Little Liars, Vera Machiado in true detective and Lacey Briggs in blood and oil.

For those who don’t know, Mayo has talents beyond acting, such as singing and songwriting. In her free time, the actress supports women’s empowerment initiatives, improving her relationship with sex and nurturing her mental health.

The 32-year-old is currently collaborating with The Somatica® Method, a training institute that helps people experience transformation through pleasure. He is also part of the council of The Holistic Life Foundationthat brings mindfulness yoga and meditation to underserved communities.

These activities are not random or coincidental. They align with the passions of Mayo: support organizations that focus on young women’s empowerment and mindful education.

Finding a way to bridge your career and interests isn’t something everyone can do, but Mayo has done it. She is currently producing a project called ‘Here She Comes’, based on a true story. The main characters are Emma and Ren├ę, two experiences sex trainers leading America into the next sexual revolution.

ESSENCE caught up with Mayo to find out more about these passion projects she’s delving into and how she’s been maintaining her mental health over the past year.

ESSENCE: How has playing Stella Kidd positively and negatively affected your mental health in the last six years?

Miranda May: One of the things I love about Stella is that she is courageous, not only in her profession but also in her relationships. Stella has been an amazing vehicle for me to explore many different sides of myself. And being able to do that in a community with the cast that I work with has taken a huge toll on my mental health. It’s also been a challenge to go through that kind of shadow work in public. I mean, there’s a lot of pressure I’ve put on myself to be quote perfect.

ESSENCE: How has your journey of sexual exploration impacted your relationship with yourself and others?

Mayonnaise: The more I know about myself and what I want, and what feels good, the more I can communicate it to the people around me. It is about wholeness and integration and entering fully embodied spaces where all energy flows. And it’s something I still have to perfect. It is one of the biggest challenges in my life so far. I am overcoming shame as a woman. That’s a big part of my shadow work, but the more I express it, the less apologetic I become.

When I’m in that space, I have more access to creativity and I have more access to presence. And that’s where the fun is, no matter what we’re doing. If I’m hanging out with friends, if we’re making a scene, if I’m having sex with someone, being present and accessing creativity and freedom, that’s where the fun is.

ESSENCE: How are you unlearning sexual shame and feeling more confident exploring your issues?

Mayonnaise: Training these women at Somatica has been an amazing and fair community. Whenever I feel ashamed or isolated, finding a community and being able to express myself is the most important thing. The most meaningful gift from Somatica and the institute that is so healing to me is being unapologetic and being bold in saying what I want.

Just being able to have a space for you, [to] expressing what it is you want, and being seen, heard, and held was a powerful thing for me that I don’t think exists in most therapeutic settings. Trauma is stored in the body, and the only way to get it out is to be in the body.

So to have practitioners who are there to help facilitate, hold, and play, I thought that was amazing. I am a very affectionate person. I like the connection, and the touch is very healing for me.

ESSENCE: What has been the most helpful practice in cultivating healthy mental health for you in 2022?

Mayonnaise: This year has been the most challenging year for me mentally. There was a time when I took a break from work, and NBC and the show were very loving and generous. But it’s been the most challenging year for mental health for me, it hasn’t been perfect. But the things that have helped me have been moving my body, Somatic practices like touching my body while breathing, exercising, [and] singing.

There is this book called The 15 commitments of conscious leadership. There’s this practice in the book of noticing if I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious, my mind is racing, [or] there are so many thoughts, breathing and seeing the sensations in my body and imagining if my body was made of a bunch of little pieces, which is, I mean, cells, atoms, but imagining what they’re doing and where they’re doing it.

For the past few days, I’ve been going to my piano room and singing and playing. And that has helped a lot.

ESSENCE: What are some conscious education and women’s empowerment initiatives that you support?

Mayonnaise: The organization I support is called the Holistic Life Foundation. They went to an elementary school in his neighborhood, which was right in the center of the Freddie Gray protests after he was shot dead by police, and asked how they could be of help. The principal gave them his ten most troublesome children and told them to ‘do something’.

So they created this program. They replaced elementary school detention with a mindfulness room. When they started the program, they had been reduced to zero suspensions. After the show, they were reduced to zero suspensions.

So that’s what they do. They teach mindfulness to black and brown children, especially in underserved communities.

ESSENCE: What does a sexually liberated world look like from your point of view?

Mayonnaise: It seems that people move in a more relaxed and empathic state. Point and purpose are connected so that we can all do greater service to each other and the planet and experience joy while all together.

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