Meet Lady Lennia Mia Michelle McClain!
Pet Peeve: People who waste my (and other people’s) time. Time is precious.
Favorite Movie: Ooo, so many. Bone Collector, Jason’s Lyrics, Steel Magnolias, A Little Princess
Favorite Artists: Too many! Micheal Jackson, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Adele, Prince, India Arie, Sarah Bareilles.
“An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world,” as stated by Spanish American novelist George Santayana; And our Lady Lennia Mia Michelle McClain, has followed her dreams through her art into a wonderful path of success. She is an accomplished singer, actor, dancer, songwriter, poet, choreographer, and producer at the age of 22. “McClain is a star waiting to be discovered,” as stated by the The Times Picayune. Mia has used the arts to inspire herself and many others, and now she will inspire the women of Miss Millennia Magazine with her positivity and personal experience. Read more about how Mia came to be the talented young woman she is today.
Are you in, or have you gone to college? If so, when did you graduate or what is your expected graduation date?
I recently completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre at Syracuse University on May 15, 2011, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
What is your area of study? If you are not enrolled in school, then what alternative did you take to put yourself on the road to accomplishing your dreams?
Conservatory style training in Musical Theatre (Dance, Voice, and Acting) was my field of study. In this strict degree program, I was required to take private voice lessons, piano lessons, various dance styles, studio acting classes, theatre history classes, and a certain number of academic elective credits which I primarily focused on African American Studies, Women’s Studies, and Writing Intensives.
What has been your biggest struggle in achieving your goals? How are you overcoming it?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
My biggest struggle has been fear—fear of my greatness; fear that with the right combination of persistence and determination, the tiny light within me could burst into a great ball of sun. I used to hide my talents and skills, afraid that being better than everybody else around me would isolate me. I wanted to be normal and for years, I fought with myself over that. One day, I woke up and realized that my purpose in life was not to be normal. God didn’t gift me with these extraordinary talents and interests for me to let him down because I just wanted to be like everybody else. My biggest struggle was following my callings and realizing that everybody is called to do different things. I always say, “don’t go climbing up someone else’s ladder.” What’s for you is for you. Now that I’m older and wiser, my main goal is to stay focused and keep my „eyes on the prize.‟ However, although my eye is on the finished product, I’m also learning to enjoy the ride as well. Life isn’t just about the final destinations; it’s about the detours that you may take along the way. To conquer my fears, I remind myself everyday that
What inspires you?
My mantra in life is “Be inspired by art so that you may inspire others.” Honestly, art is my #1 inspiration. I get inspired by anything, from the Metropolitan Opera to old men singing on the subway-from the American Ballet Theatre to vibrant youth tap dancing in the French Quarter of my hometown of New Orleans. I take those inspirations and turn them into creations. Sometimes after I see a show or encounter an artistic experience randomly, I run home to spew my ideas on paper and see what I can create. Other times, the experience I encounter isn’t artistic at all but I find a flicker of light in it and jot down ideas. But just to clarify, these ideas are not born to my own gratification. The most important part of my mantra is using these inspirations to inspire others; therefore, the art that comes out of the art that inspired me will be used as a catalyst for change and inspiration along my journey. That said, if we all use this idea of “Paying it Forward”—not merely being inspired but inspiring others in return,–there will be a never-ending spiral of inspiration permeating throughout our society, generation after generation.
What will you write about for this blog?
I’m all about female empowerment and uplifting the African American community. However, I think that many of my blog posts can apply to a plethora of readers and followers. For so long, I was afraid of my own greatness. I didn’t want to be placed on a pedestal or set aside from the crowd because I was different…in an extraordinary way. After reading Marianne Williamson’s poem “Our Deepest Fear,” I began to embrace all of the wonderful things about myself, a journey that I’m still on. I tend to blog from the perspective of a young, black, top-of-the-line, female in America who is unraveling and finding the beauty in being different. I want to empower women like me (the women who want to have it all…and MORE!) and to encourage them to never give up on their dreams, no matter how preposterous they may seem to our traditional and conservative society. I write blogs about what it’s like to love as a woman of status, not just other people but yourself as well. I have a blog post from earlier this year called “The Simple Girls”. It talks about a whole bunch of things, but most importantly it talks about Purpose. Everyone needs to find his/her purpose in life. I feel that women, especially, struggle at times with living in their purpose and trying to still meet the demands that society has placed on “the woman.” My blog would be covering all of these emotions and experiences from not only my journey but the journeys of those I’ve watched and admired.
Do you feel like you can inspire women in their 20’s and 30’s? If so how would you go about doing this?
Yes. I’m a real woman with a real story. Nothing in life was handed to me on a silver platter. I tell it like it is, I say what I feel, and I hold my head high while doing so. We’ve come a long way from the Suffrage Movement, when before that women were silenced by the existence of our breast, hips, and thighs. Almost a century after that movement freed our voices politically; we still struggle with freedom in social and civil aspects. As a woman who combats the daily struggle of the dichotomy of being a high-powered woman with domestic interests, I feel I represent a large percentage of the female population. I want to have it all and I’m on that journey. I feel that the sharing of my journey with others will inspire them to never give up on their most precious dreams and aspirations. I will inspire each woman to “Be her own woman.” I remember growing up and people saying I wasn’t black enough or I was too black. Now that I’m 22, I look back and I say “who are you to tell me what kind of black I have to be? I’ll be my own black.” That’s how I feel about womanhood. Who are you to tell me what a woman is and how a woman should act, or how a woman should dress? I am all about people defining themselves—women defining their own personal womanhood.
Who does Lady Lennia represent to you?
She represents a woman of grace and intellect. But most importantly, she represents a woman with a voice. More specifically, she represents a woman with a voice for change. I love the arts. I am art. One of my favorite actors and activists, Harry Belafonte, once said, “Art is Invincible.” I use art as my voice to make the next generation of women and men invincible and not invisible. Lady Lennia uses her talents and inspirations as a voice that will change her little part of the world. She doesn’t withhold her gifts for self-glorification. She doesn’t display her for praise. She does something so unique, so motivational—she places a voice to her gifts and allows them to procreate into vehicles of change.
Why would you make a great Lady Lennia for the Art Edition?
My artistic resume aside, art is why I get up in the morning. It’s why I can’t fall asleep at night. Art is more than the commercialized songs that play on the radio or the creative designs behind an Oscar-winning film. Art can be powerful but it takes a powerful person behind the art to unleash that greatness. Art gave me a voice; it gave me power. As Lady Lennia, I will dedicate my time to giving a voice to women in return for what art has given me. “Who am I to be great? Who am I to be Lady Lennia?” The question is “Who am I not to be?” Marianne Williamson says, “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” As Lady Lennia, I will use my power and artistic influence to give voice to women, hopefully inspiring them to do the same in their own way.
I love women who are not afraid of being multiple things. I read this quote once. It said, “I kept thinking the sun was yellow. But it’s much more than that. There are layers upon layers of color that make up the sun.” That’s how I feel about some people, particularly women who are Lady Lennia’s in their everyday lives. There are so many layers to a woman and I find it insulting and unfair when society expects us to dish out one or two layers and delete the rest. We are complex human beings with so much to offer. Don’t ever let anyone diminish your greatness.