Written by Mapuana Makia
I am so incredibly excited to share this awesome guest post from our first ever guest blogger, Mapuana Makia! Get ready to be inspired! More importantly, Mapuana shares so much gold in this piece, and I know many of you reading will gain bounds of thoughtful and practical advice. I am so honored that Mapuana decided to share her experience with The Modern Actor community ( we are an awesome growing family, so why wouldn’t she?!). Yet, I am much more pleased that there are actors like Mapuana who are taking action and rising above demoralizing body standards.
Major love to you Mapuana! I am totally celebrating your commercial wins and cheering you on for your future happiness and success.—E.R.
Taking The Plunge
When Eddie originally asked me to contribute as a guest blogger, I have to admit both my excitement and terror. After all, this subject matter to me, is a process—a practice—not a final destination. I’d be lying to you if I told you my way of doing things is a be-all-end-all solution. Although, I can say it’s been a lesson in poking my head out of a sea of voices, that interact with me in my mind on the daily.
I was not born a thin, nor heavy woman. I have a sporty structure. I am semi-athletic, I grew up being a “tomboy” so there is a part of my body that works very well for me. I am grateful to be a healthy, active woman now.
But that wasn't always the case...
Getting into pageants at 19 for scholarship funds, and acting, there’s always been a lot of outside criticism about my size. Acting teachers, family members, representation, were very concerned that if I was to choose the line of work of being a professional actor, that I should prepare myself for even more hard times when it came to my body size. I also grew up with a great-grandmother who used to say “I hate fat people”. You can imagine how that trickled down from generation to generation, to this not super thin body who is writing to you now.
So yes, the criticism from external sources eventually turned into self-doubt and self-criticism.
And I DO get it, we ALLLL get it. The pressures from Hollywood. Check. I don’t need to go into this further right?
Listening to The "Right" Voice
So let’s cut to 10 years later for me here, in Hollywood. I was driving to an audition, attempting to calm my nerves and lower the negative self-talk—when a small voice rose from all the others.
It was simple, and frank, it just said:
“What if I could just, book at any size, right now, as I am?”
So I decided to adopt the mantra “I can book at any size.”
I carried that thought with me into the audition, had a great audition and felt, great. Just for one second, to drop all the doubts and thoughts, and say, “Here I am, I am great at this and I can do this job.”
Then, when I got the callback, I scratched out all the sizes I thought would look good on paper and put all my actual sizes on there, after all, If i’m putting my money where my mouth is with my new mantra, I better actually change to the right sizes right?
I booked three commercials in that span of time. And! When I got to the fitting, the clothes actually fit me and I felt amazing, I felt pretty, and I felt worthy to be there.
Like I said, it has been a process and I can tell you what has worked for me since:
My self affirmations before heading into auditions, fittings, whatever makes me nervous
Knowing my body type
Finding exercise and eating patterns I enjoy
Tony Robbins, Louise Hay, Dr. Wayne Dyer
Knowing what I play
Listening to positive people such as Tony Robbins, Louise Hay and Dr. Wayne Dyer help keep the demons at bay for me. They can also help you create your own self affirmations!
I now play to exercise. I’ve found that when I am having fun with my workouts I enjoy it more, (simple but easy to forget, right?) So I work out with my basketball team the Ba Dunka Dunks, and do home workouts with my favorite fitness folks: Simone De La Rue, Tracey Anderson, and Christine Khuri . They incorporate weights, body weight training and cardio. My favorite studio in LA? Hollywood Power Yoga (I became 200 Hour Yoga Certified there in 2016). Devan Medrano took over the studio in 2016 and has been creating an amazing atmosphere and experience there. Check out her sculpt yoga class!
I’ve also done some research on my body type and found out what kinds of food works for me. I’m part mesomorph, part endomorph, so I mostly stick to a low-carb and high protein food intake (with some chocolate and red wine sprinkled in.) It's what works for me the best without feeling like I’m making severe sacrifices in my life. You can explore this type of body classification here: What Body Type Are You? It also made me understand my body, which gave me peace of mind. I used to think if I worked out really hard I could be a tiny size 0. (Psst...spoiler alert, it wasn’t true.)
Also, learning what I play as an actor has been really helpful.
Look, I know that we ALL know what the pressures of Hollywood are. I’m not pretending they don’t exist, and there are more pressures on some roles than others to look perfect. I’m saying for me, it works to look MY best in the roles I am fit for, which I found out are: Mom, Best Friend, Wife, Neighbor. I learned this at the SAG Foundation, in their workshop called The Branding Workshop. It was a relief knowing I could play these roles, just as I am, I didn’t have to be a supermodel (though I have been known to work a catwalk or two, I’m JUST saying.)
Right on the precipice of finishing this piece, I was asked to audition in a swimsuit, which felt like a big test from the universe, (I see you Universe.) But the ad was FOR curvy women like me, and shapes of all sizes and ages! It is nice to see Hollywood being more accepting of different shapes and sizes. Ads like Lane Bryant and Target are coming out with some awesome body positive stuff. (Side note: Mapuana got a callback for this audition, Congrats girl!)
So I know for sure now, we are all meant to be here as actors, just as we are. I know that you and I have such specific talents that only we can do. That we all come from such unique experiences and bring that into our auditions and roles. That we are MORE than enough.