I met Mandy on Facebook several weeks ago. I kind of have a no randos rule because my Facebook is fairly personal and I have friends and family whose privacy is important to them but every now and then I make an exception and I’m always glad I did. One of my favourite stranger friends is this dude in Australia who is a friend of a friend who has elevated his own kind of metalhead humour to an art form. Then there’s Mandy. Her middle name is May so I HAD to accept her request, plus she’s friends with two people from totally different spheres of my life and I was curious. She and I chatted about our mutual friends and the fact that we used to live in the same town a lifetime ago but never met and then she asked if my agency could do some work for her new project. She’s the creator and star of a show on truTV called Mutha which is a part of a comedy skit program called Late Night Snack and it’s debuting TONIGHT! It’s the story of a housewife who becomes a rapper and it is funny, fearless, raunchy, and totally mesmerizing – just like Mandy. Her story is pretty incredible and she’s the kind of person who is like the spiritual equivalent of a jump into a cold lake early in the morning. She makes me want to get up and do something amazing with my life. In fact, she inspired this whole new section on the blog We Can Be Heroes which is a Q&A with other Mums who are kicking ass and taking names. I hope you like it.
What’s the first important life lesson you remember learning?
The best way to get a reaction from your parents is to use your shit to create art.
My Mom came in one morning and found me painting the walls with the poop from my diaper – it was the stapled-on faux wood paneling so I don’t think anyone could blame me – I was in heaven – she was in hell – the lesson is: ‘real art can really mess people up, and also make them pay attention and not leave you alone for so long.’
How do you think motherhood has most affected the person you are today?
I was a young Mom, and there was more than one occasion where I faced judgement for that choice. I decided when I was pregnant that I wouldn’t become the cliche of the teen Mom who was unable to achieve her dreams because of her choices, and that I would do everything I wanted to in life with no regrets and just take my son with me. The only thing I could think of that I was brave enough to pursue at my young age was to be a cheerleader so I threw myself into that in a really big way and became this international cheerleading coach and trained the national teams in China, Finland, Scotland etc – kind of overcompensating, but it was a wonderful adventure, and I took my son with me on trips to Sweden, England and Finland while I was coaching. Seeing how much of a mimic he was of me when he was little inspired me to set the best example I could for my son by not letting anything deter me from going after my dreams. It’s a slow method of parenting – just living the example of how you hope your kids will choose to live their lives – but I believe it’s the most powerful, because God knows they don’t always hear you when you just tell them how to do the life-living thing.
Who are your heros and why?
Madonna. She taught me that it’s ok to be a bitch and that not everyone has to like you (you like me though, right?), and that inside of one women lives a hundred songs, a dozen personalities and a killer ability to accessorize.
My Mom inspires me so much as well. She has always made sure I have a soft spot to land no matter what is going on in my life, and her love for me has never been contingent on my financial or career success which has made taking big life risks a lot easier. I hope that I am passing that unconditional love onto my son.
What is your greatest luxury?
I’m at my best when I’m surrounded by intellectual and artistically stimulating people, places and things. Someday I hope to hold salons in my home and fill the rooms with music and conversation and group sex like they did in the 1920s.
What does fearlessness feel like for you?
I honestly don’t think that exists. What exists for me is the habit (or discipline) of feeling the fear and doing the thing anyway. In the case of my art – I try to honour that by listening to the voices of inspiration when they come and translating them into my phone notepad, humming the tune into my voice recorder or sitting down to write. It’s so much easier to just ignore inspiration when it comes, but it doesn’t pay off so I have to be disciplined about that. Art is a momentary arousal and if you don’t jerk her off she’ll go elsewhere.
Tell me your motto and what it means to you?
My motto, and that of my show MUTHA is that ‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been’
and it comes from a quote attributed to George Eliot, the author of Middlemarch. It resonates with me because I don’t believe there is a time limit on experience, and I don’t believe that anyone was put on this earth to just get through life. It crushes my soul to hear people talking themselves out of shining their light on the world. In the words of that guy in Pulp Fiction ‘that’s just fear fucking with you.’ What I’m doing seems crazy to people – what business do I have trying to become a raptress (rapper/actress)!? Hip hop is not a lady friendly place, but it was my version punk rock, the music I grew up on and most related to, and it now happens to be the way in which rage chooses to flee my body. So I can let that rot inside me, or I can let it out. George Eliot was a female author who used a male pen name in order to have her work published in a male dominated world so that adds extra weight to the quote for me. All of the industries I have worked in my entire life have been run by men (INCLUDING CHEERLEADING!), and with pitching a tv show and album about a woman over 30 in hip hop I’ve experienced the glass ceiling from multiple directions. More like a glass box really – just stand in there and look pretty while we look at you! MUTHA is about a woman who is seeks to find her authentic voice and the nuances are often completely missed by those not currently living a middle-aged female life; most especially with the male decision makers at networks and labels. I am very grateful to truTV and Abso Lutely Productions for helping me let my freak flag fly so more women can be inspired to go balls to the wall in pursuit of their happy (or rage) place, and more ‘older’ female creators will bring their stories to life.
Watch Mutha’s first episode below and for exclusive clips, awesome merch and more.