"I've never been the type of person to speak out or stand my ground. I've never felt like I was a strong woman. Now, I want others to be unashamed and unafraid, to be brutally honest with themselves and follow through with their passions. But how can I inspire others to do that if I couldn't even do it myself? I really needed to start with myself."
Working in a creative field can be draining. There are constant doubts about yourself, many rejections, and of course, the financial struggles. It take lots of courage and confidence in your passion to follow the creative path.
Originally pursuing a career in the medical field, Mae Claire couldn’t ignore her love for acting. The powerful magic of performances that connects people drew her in, and she is now taking small steps to fulfill her dreams. Vuetelle met with the actress/model Mae Claire one Friday afternoon to discuss her passion for acting, different techniques, and loving yourself.
*Staffs at Writer’s Block Rehab bar were wonderful to open the upstairs area for a photoshoot. We had a delightful time! They have an amazing selection of non-alcoholic and alcoholic cocktails as well. Check them out if you are in town!
Vuetelle: Hi Mae Claire, it is so great to see you.
Mae Claire: Hi! Thank you for having me here today.
V: You are an actress, model, and singer. What a wide variety of talent! Which talent did you realize first?
MC: I was initially a singer. I grew up under parents who are also artists, they had a band in the Middle East before they came to America. So I was familiar with performing in front of people from an early age. My parents had creativity in them, even though they are both from the medical field. I was also pursuing the medical field in the beginning.
V: That is a big change! It must have been difficult to go from the medical to the creative field!
MC: Yes, it was a difficult decision. My family gave me strong support for my passion, but they considered it more as a hobby… They were definitely nervous about it as much as I was. (laughs)
V: What made you decide to take the plunge?
MC: I tried to pursue both fields in the beginning, but soon I realized that I wasn’t able to put 100% of myself into the passion. So I decided to fully devote myself. This was the career that I felt that I’m willing to work for and never be bored of it.
Also, initially, I was only pursuing modeling gigs as a hobby, so I didn’t expect any compensation. But, I kept getting booked for jobs that paid me. It made me think that maybe I can go after this dream of mine as a career option. It planted a seed of belief inside me!
V: It almost seems as fate was pushing you towards this field!
MC: Haha, yes!
V: What is your first memory of wanting to pursue an acting career?
MC: Well, I was in musicals when I was younger, but I never wanted to become an actress. I was scared of memorizing lines and such… I started modelling at 17, and taking acting classes in Philadelphia. I remember vividly, this one scene… I was doing a scene with someone I didn’t know. Then I was so deeply immersed in the moment, I felt a strong connection with the person. It was a very surreal experience. I believe that was a moment that taught me the power of acting.
V: What was your most memorable role so far?
MC: There are too many aspects and people involved for me to choose one particular role. I will have to name more than one for this question. First, my role as Selina Kyle in Catwoman Retribution. Director Anthony Fletcher has been such a big part in the growth of my acting, and cultivated the potential in me. Also, Elektra in Elektra v Psylocke. Art School Dropouts production helped me a lot with action scenes, with punching and kicking.
V: Who is your inspiration?
MC: All the people that I worked with to achieve the same goal. Being around them, surrounding myself with everyone’s dedication and positivity always give me a huge motivation. I love moving forward together. I believe in that energy.
V: Is there a particular movie, piece of literature, or song that gives you strength?
MC: I feel that different materials give me strength depending on what I’m going through at the moment. Honestly, it changes all the time. So, I don’t think I can mention a specific work. Only because I get obsessed with one thing at a time. Last week, it was Game of Thrones! Seeing how amazing the actors are gives me strength.
V: What was your first commercial production?
MC: Hmm, it was something local in Pennsylvania. It was for a small Evangelical Christian magazine. I had to be overly enthusiastic in front of the camera focusing on certain terms like ‘Jesus’ and ‘Bible’, things like that.
V: You have done commercial work with Overwatch, Belif, the Philadelphia Eagles, and Breastcancer.org. Is there any interesting behind the scenes episode that you can share with our readers?
MC: Yes! My work with Overwatch comes to mind. I was always interested in video games and anything with geek culture, so obviously, it was such a cool experience! There was a whole set-up - it is clearer when you watch the commercial - there was a huge thing coming down from the sky. Of course, before the after effect was applied, it was just a huge light! I remember thinking that it is just a light since it is hard to see any detail on a brightly shining object. But later I saw the floor and realized the lighting actually had the Overwatch logo on it! You know, like the Batman’s light. I thought it was really awesome, and it was such a small detail that could have been overlooked.
V: Recently you were in Marc Ambrosia’s music video, World With You. As a musician yourself, did you feel that there was a difference between acting for music related content and other TV/Film productions?
MC: I don’t feel that those have too many differences. From my personal experience, I am typically cast as ‘myself’ for music related contents like music videos. ‘Myself’ meaning characters that resembles me or my life more closely. So, it feels more natural and easy to act.
As for TV/Film productions, I have to do an extensive research, since it is not myself. I have to really study the characters from different aspects. I have to become a completely different person.
V: You are currently studying the Meisner Technique at Playhouse West Acting Conservatory with Tony Savant. Could you tell us what the Meisner Technique is, and what made you choose that certain technique?
MC: Meisner Technique is by American theater practitioner Stanford Meisner. The technique focuses on getting actors not to be inside their head. Lots of times, while acting in front of each other, actors get trapped inside their mind and the script, and it makes difficult for them to truly become the characters. In real life, people act and react to each other without having these kinds of pressures. This technique resembles natural interactions between humans by focusing on what is happening in front of them, and not the script. What attracted me to an acting career, that connection between humans, resembles a lot of the teachings of the Meisner Technique.
There are other techniques like Stella Adler’s Technique or Chekhov Technique.
Techniques that encourage actors to completely immerse themselves into the character like Method Acting… I don’t think they are healthy. Actors like Christian Bale use Method Acting, and it violates the actor’s psyche. It is a powerful technique, but also a very dangerous one… Of course, each actor will express and internalize the method differently. I just find it unhealthy for me. It destroys yourself in time, and it interrupts your reality.
V: I see… So you believe in separating your reality as yourself and the actress. You don’t like to blur that line.
MC: Absolutely. It is damaging to not have a strong sense of yourself as a person outside your acting persona. Well, at least in my case, that is…
V: So, why the Meisner Technique?
MC: When I first dove into acting, I found myself overly focused on lines… Meisner Technique really helps with getting yourself out of your head. It also builds strong foundations. When you start studying it, you don’t get scenes until after six months. You have to solely build off each other in the beginning. You learn to react to your own instincts.
V: Your modeling portfolio is unique as it not only has pictures of traditional modeling, but also cosplay! Since cosplaying is a depiction of a fictional character in the real world, I definitely see a connection to your acting career. Is that true?
MC: Personally, I find them very different. I love both.
I remember watching this video by The Anime Man on Youtube. He covered how anime world is not equivalent to Japan, meaning it is not real life. So with cosplay, you get to do poses that are not ‘model’, you can do something overly cute. There is an aspect of freedom.
I also love how the cosplay community is collaborative, and how it adds to the story. The people involved, a cosplayer and photographer, they work together to recreate a certain story about the character. I find that very beautiful.
V: Do you feel that there is a difference between cosplay modeling and traditional modeling?
MC: The difference is the amount of freedom in cosplay modeling. In the traditional modeling, there are lots of rules. Cosplay modeling, any poses are possible! (Laughs)
V: You are very vocal about your Filipino background on your social media. What does your heritage mean to you?
MC: It means… Heritage is like a theory. Someone can teach you how to act, but ultimately, it is up to you. It is a self-discovery. Heritage provides you with equation, and you fill yourself into it.
Something very prominent in Filipino culture is about family. It is very family oriented. Coming to the US meant that family will be separated living in different continents… We can interact with social media and messengers. You still feel all the support.
When people think of ‘Asia’, it is mostly focused on East Asian Countries. People rarely think of the Philippines, even though there are so many Filipino influences in American culture. People don’t think of the creative professionals in fashion, film, and so many more. I want to change that conception.
V: I can imagine that there must be an obstacle as an Asian American actress in America for the limitation of roles in the mainstream media.
MC: It is definitely slowly changing. Actually, my manager recently told me that Asians are ‘hot’ in casting right now. I just hope it is not temporary.
I believe that in order to expand Asian roles, we need more Asian writers and directors to create works that comes from their experiences. It is so important for Asians to put their stories out there.
I also believe that if you truly work towards perfecting your skills, someone will see you. So, never take shortcuts.
V: What is your philosophy in life?
MC: Love yourself. It is something that I am still trying to do. The more you love yourself, the more stuff comes to you. I was depressed before… Then I realize that nobody else than yourself can support you. You have to silence the negative thoughts and be kind to yourself. You wouldn’t say the cruel things that you tell yourself to others. Think of all the accomplishments, small and big. And use that to aid yourself and constantly try to improve.
V: Almost a quarter of 2019 has passed. What is your goal for the rest of the year?
MC: First off, finding an agency in New York. Second, getting small roles in TV/Film productions. I believe in setting small achievable goals for yourself!