As a child, we all had a childlike imagination and we thought that the most impossible things were possible. Our parents encouraged us to dream big and they would even entertain some of our passions. As we got older, we were taught to be more practical. Some of us even threw our impossible dreams out of the window.
Today, we want to introduce you to Maura Chanz. Maura Chanz is a renaissance woman who has always followed and executed her dreams. She is a producer, writer, director, actress, and creative strategist.
In this interview Maura shares how her love for the arts was introduced, facing criticism in the industry, overcoming fear, and how to use internships as a tool for success. Maura encourages us all to plan for the impossibilities-- read more to learn why.
Ready to Take on The World
For as long as she can remember, Maura has always loved the stage. At the age of 3, she c
an recall attending an Issac Hayes concert with her parents and being called on stage to perform with him. By the age of 5 she was in theatre programs because she loved performing and putting on a show. She decided to take her passion professionally when she was 10 years old.
Maura and KeKe Palmer shared a mutual mentor, Asha Kamali. After meeting KeKe Palmer and seeing her do what she loved at a professional level, it inspired Maura to do the same. That was the big push for Maura.
At the ages of 12 and 13, Maura went to L.A. for a camp. By the end of the camp there was a showcase where she would meet agents and managers. She was offered a contract by one of the top agencies at the time. She relocated to L.A., moved in with a manager (who was running the camp), and she began to pursue her career professionally.
The Jill of All Trades
When it comes to art, as it relates to the humanities, Maura can do it all-- well most of it! She has been drawing, painting, and illustrating since she was 8. She began writing professionally at 13, producing since she was 15, she danced for 11 years, and she started directing this past year.
When asked how do you balance all that you do Maura says, “I do not balance all that I do. I neglect crafts all of the time.”
Most recently, she started illustrating again as a source of therapy. But she is usually focused on what is making her money at the time. So her life currently revolves around producing. However, there are other times when she isn’t working directly for a client and she gets to work on her own projects. Working on her own projects allows her to write it, produce, it, direct it, and edit it. Since she is her own team, she is able to do all of these things.
“When it is my own project, it does allow me to balance my crafts, but sometimes I am leaned into one skill more than the others.”
Personal Doubts and Insecurities
In the industry that Maura is in, she has dealt with rejection more than getting the opportunity.
“I would jokingly tell everyone, if they’re under the age of 30 and in Hollywood, I know them.
Not only do I know them, but we grew up together.”
In many ways she’s had her own successes, but from a worldview she doesn’t have the same popularity as some of the people she grew up with. Though she is a phenomenal talent, she can recall not getting a role at the age of 16 because her body was too thick.
“At that time it did cause a little self doubt because there was someone controlling the opportunity.”
Many of the things that Maura does, have been self taught. So there’s been times when she knows that she is good at something, but since she does not have the academic pedigree to back it up, it causes self doubt.
“I give my everything in all that I do. Since I do so much, I have never been able to give 10 years uninterrupted to one craft. So I haven’t been able to master everything. This plays a part in some of my own self esteem issues as it relates to my career.”
Thankfully, Maura has had a lot of positive affirmations in her life and throughout her career. Whatever she puts her mind to, she will not only do it, but she will execute it.
Meeting and Working with Yara Shahidi
In 2014, while Maura was in college she had an internship with a man named James Andrews. At the time, one of James Andrews clients was ABC Blackish. One of her projects was to do a screening at her school. In 2017 she met Yara at The Essence Festival.
Although she was captivated by Yara, she was more interested in getting to know her mom, Keri Shahidi.
“I think Yara is so eloquent, from her activism to her performance. Though I was captivated by her, you do not get a Yara out of a vacuum. I was more interested in getting to know her mom.
Maura bodly walked up to Keri Shahidi and complimented the ways in which she was able to raise her children.
“I am really thankful that Yara is a light and a positive representation of blackness for so many girls.”
Since then she has been able to work with Yara and her family on other projects. She has been able to help them in many areas as it relates to their work. They’ve become a second family for Maura.
Working as an Intern
Maura started interning at the age of 12 and it has been a tool to help her reach her goals. She’s interned with BET, Akon, and Janelle Monet. She’s worked at film festivals, and volunteered at conferences.
Although Maura doesn’t believe that anyone should work for free, she does believe that it can be a tool for your own personal career.
“Similar to school, though you don’t want to mess up, at least you get to learn and mess up on someone else's budget.”
She has used all that she has learned as templates for her own projects.
“Internships can add value. How are you going to lead a business if you’ve never seen this type of business being led.”
Do What You Fear and Fear Disappears
Like most of us, Maura still faces fear. Regardless, she tackles her goals even if fear is present. What helps and calms her fears is knowing that no one knows what they’re doing. She says, “we all are figuring it out.”
There are times when she thinks that she’s out of her league, but she looks around and sees people who are doing it anyway. She is surrounded by people who take risks and who are examples of what dreaming big really is.
“You're not going to make any of the shots you do not take.”
Doing it anyway has helped Maura strengthen her crafts. Even if it's a project that she never plans to share with the world, she does it regardless. She uses those moments as lessons that teach her how to make her own projects better. “Even if it never sees the light of day, I still recommend doing it anyway.”
Mindset for 2020
Maura has always been a planner and has always made plans for the things that she wants. Her biggest focus for this year is to surrender to God’s will for her and to enjoy “being.” She has worked for a long time so this year she plans on enjoying being in the moment.
“It’s okay to give up. I don’t mean giving up when something is hard. Give up when you’re doing something that you do not want to do. I do what I want and when I don’t want to, I stop doing it.”
To learn more about Maura: Website: http://maurachanz.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maurachanz