Rising Asian American Actress and Model Mae Claire talks about her journey in the entertainment industry
Mae Claire is a Filipino-American actress, model, singer and filmmaker residing in the Philadelphia Area. After being cast in her first on-screen role as Selina Kyle for the local fan film, “Catwoman: Retribution”, she fell in love with the process of storytelling and never turned back! She holds a Bachelors in Pharmaceutical Business and has been studying at the Playhouse West acting conservatory with Tony Savant for over 3 years. Mae Claire has recently been awarded as “Best Supporting Actress” for the short film, “The Best Way to Murder”, which she wrote and produced, at Caorle Film Festival 2019 in Italy. Her most recent stage appearance was in the award-winning Playhouse West production, “Welcome Home Soldier”. She is a fierce advocate of Asian Americans pursuing the arts and entertainment industry and is also growing her own social media agency, My Pocket Partner, on the side to support her artistic path.
HELLO MAE! THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CHAT WITH US! PLEASE, BRIEFLY INTRODUCE YOURSELF, WHO IS MAE CLAIRE IN YOUR OWN WORDS?
Thanks for having me! My name is Mae and I’m your average dreamer trying to make the things I love into a career. I’m an actress, a model, a singer, a filmmaker, and an entrepreneur.
I grew up in a musical family. My mom was a singer, my dad was a pianist, and the rest of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were musicians of all sorts. I started singing in our family band when I was about 5 or 6 years old but who knows how long I’ve been singing before that. Despite our talents and inclinations toward the arts, a large majority of my family have careers in the medical field. I have tried pursuing the medical field for all my life – going into a vocational school specialized in allied health, rejecting nursing and getting accepted into a pharmacy school, almost switching into physical therapy, graduating with a pharmaceutical and healthcare business degree – my entire life taught me how to “health & science” even though “health & science” really wasn’t what I was passionate about.
Growing up, “Mae Claire ” had always been my “alter ego” and social media was where I showcased my work. I thought of myself as two separate identities because I never thought that I was even allowed to pursue such elusive careers. The older I got, the more “Mae Claire” started to mesh with who I actually am. Now, I define “Mae Claire” as me through my values, my experiences, and my passions. It is where I embrace my identity as an artist.
HOW AND WHEN EXACTLY DID YOU REALIZE YOU HAD THE PASSION FOR MODELLING & ACTING?
I realized that I had the passion for acting when I found out that I had a voice. The first time I went to acting class was the first time I have ever let my bare, raw emotions out to another human being without being shamed for having those emotions. It was both cathartic and therapeutic.
Growing up in a Filipino American household, I was taught to keep my head down, not have any controversial opinions, and respect culture & tradition to the point where I felt so restricted that I refused to let any of my “real self” out into the world. I developed social anxiety after years of being fearful of what people thought about me. After realizing that there was a way to express my own thoughts and ideas, that’s when I fell in love with acting. If people are going through the same thing I did where I felt like I had no voice, I want to be their voice for them. I want them to see me on a stage or in front of a screen thinking… “Wow, that’s me.”
In terms of modeling, I went into modeling to feel pretty – and to earn money. But when I realized that pretty didn’t really matter in the grand scale of things, I actually dropped it for a very long time. Now, the reason why I model is because I can infuse what I’ve learned from acting into this 2-dimensional world. The industry has also changed in a positive way. Different types of bodies are now being accepted, and instead of an exclusive, competitive feeling amongst other models and photographers, I’ve been met with talented collaborators who also work hard at their craft. Working with these people to make their vision come true is what keeps me going.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A MODEL AND ACTRESS AND WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES IN THE MODELLING AND ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY?
The best thing about modeling and acting to me is visibly being able to see my progress over time. I’m a huge advocate of self-improvement. Seeing my work from 3 years ago compared to now makes me really happy because I know that I’m just a little bit closer to making myself more useful in this industry. The biggest mindset shift I’ve had this year is going from “How can this benefit me as an artist?” to “How can I help others improve their stories through my experiences and my training?” If a director, writer, or producer is happy with the outcome of my work, then I’m happy that I’ve reached the expectations of their vision. But of course – there’s my vision as well. And often, I tend not to reach it. Every year, my biggest influences change a lot. But right now, I’d say I’m most inspired by Viola Davis.
HOW IMPORTANT IS PERSONAL BRANDING IN YOUR PROFESSION AND WHAT YOU DO TO GROW YOUR BRAND?
I think when people talk about “personal branding” it gets misconstrued with an image, a look – a type of logo to define themselves without really knowing who they are. But as a digital marketer, let me just put this quote out there – “A brand is what you make people feel.” And how you make people feel is 100% important to any type of profession.
The first thing you need to know when growing your brand are the following: Who am I? What do I love? What do I hate? What are my values and what do I stand for? What am I against? How do I make people feel? What kind of energy do I give off? How do I present myself in front of different people (family, friends, lovers, co-workers, etc.)? Do I have a side of me that most people don’t know about? What makes me unique?
The more you know yourself, the better you can grow your brand. Your look and the way you present yourself online will correlate with who you are and who you define yourself. Continue networking and connecting with the people who you are inspired by and share the same values as you. And from there, that’s how you can grow and continue create genuine relationships with your audiences.
WHAT ADVICE & TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG ASPIRING MODELS AND ACTRESSES?
Know yourself, stay humble, don’t compare yourself to others, and always try to find a way to become a better version of you. We are all on our own separate journeys and there are just too many circumstances to why someone might be more “successful” than you are.
HOW ABOUT ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO ASIAN AMERICANS WHO ARE PURSUING THIS CAREER?
The reality of the situation is – we ARE a minority and we WILL have to work much harder than many others to be seen in this industry. Some people are proponents of Asian Americans being involved in mediocre work. But that makes us give up our control to the people who are giving those positions to us. So I say the opposite. Be so good, so excellent, that it doesn’t matter what your race is. People will just notice your work no matter what.
And be involved behind the scenes or in the writer’s room or as part of production.
Aim to be an industry leader so that no one holds power over whether or not your work can be seen.
It is so important to take charge of your own life and create opportunities for yourself even if no one will give them to you.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
One thing I’ve been learning in this entire process is that – it’s not about you. Yes, you are an actor or a model. You are the face of whatever the vision is. But you have to remind yourself that you are a small piece to the entire production. It’s not about you. It’s about the story you’re telling or the concept you’re trying to pull off. It’s about what people feel about the end product.
It is your job to bring your own uniqueness and experiences to the set to make it better than it was. And if you’re not chosen to be that piece to the puzzle, take comfort in knowing that there is someone out there who can tell that story in a more meaningful way. In some ways, this can make you feel small and insignificant. But I don’t see it like that. There is another story or a concept that only YOU can tell. And that is the beauty of being in this career path. Hopefully, this can also help you take the pressure off yourself amidst the competition.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU ONLINE?
You can check out my work on my website at http://maeclaire.com/ or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!