Mariah Kirstie is a Los Angeles native who discovered her passion for the arts at a young age. A very self aware child who understood she was special, art became an outlet through which she could relate to people. At the age of 13 she attended Amazing Grace Conservatory, a renowned children's theater serving Los Angeles’ inner city youth. In high school she participated in her small schools drama program while simultaneously studying and performing at nearby Southwest Community College. In 2011 she returned home from St John’s university feeling unfulfilled by her Journalism major and began studying at Torrance, California's El Camino College. There she starred in plays such as Arthur Miller's The Crucible and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream and even directed her own work for a student showcase. Soon feeling she wasn’t being challenged enough in that environment she decided to turn to a professional actor's studio and enrolled in Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio's 2 year Meisner intensive in 2013. She credits this experience as the definitive shift from aspiring actor to professional artist.
Her film debut was a starring role in 2017's ‘The Track’ which premiered at Los Angeles’ Grauman's Chinese Theater during the Dances with Films festival. It also played at Las Vegas film festival where it was critically acclaimed and earned several awards. It is now available for streaming through Amazon video.
ECT became a home for Mariah in August 2017 when she enrolled in the conservatory, which she credits for changing the way she looks at acting. “I now feel equipped to excel in any artistic environment.” Now a graduate of conservatory and company member, Mariah is proud to be a living representation of the ECT’s fearless aesthetic. She is currently originating the role of Evelyn in ECT’s world premiere of Alik while simultaneously understudying the role of Richard in Richard III which speaks to her insatiable desire for growth.
Tell us about a transformative educational experience.
Back in 2012, fresh off of returning home from university which wasn’t feeding my soul, I enrolled in the 2 year Meisner training intensive at Elizabeth Mestnik acting studio. It was my first taste of working as and being treated as a professional actor, and also the first time I thought I was being truly challenged as an actor. After a particularly challenging couple of weeks of feeling stagnant in the work I hit an emotional wall and completely broke during class. My then teacher looked me in my eyes and told me “You are enough, Mariah". This resonated with me on a molecular level.
As someone who not only never gives up in the face of a challenge, but also understands that it is pertinent to growth, I was determined to turn that breakdown into a break through. I went home that night and journaled my heart out, affirming my greatness. I looked into my own eyes and told myself with conviction “I am enough", then used that energy to craft the greatest Meisner activity of my life that I was able to connect to in ways I previously didn’t know were possible. Rather than dwelling in feeling stagnant and broken, I used that energy to propel me forward and I found the breakthrough I had been searching for. I haven’t thought of myself as anything less than an abundantly competent creator since.
What about transformative professional experiences?
I spent the entirety of the summer of 2013 focusing on personal improvement. I told myself I’d manifest a career defining experience that year, that was meant for me and me only. In October, I auditioned for what would ultimately become my first role in a feature film. As soon as I read the audition character description of Barbie, I told myself “I can tell her story". I felt connected to the story and the role of Barbie in ways I still don’t fully understand. It was as if it was divinely orchestrated just for me- because it was. I had gotten exactly what I’d asked for.
I auditioned and knew immediately in my soul the role was mine, though I wouldn’t find out officially until about 7 months later when I was offered the role over the 300+ girls that auditioned. This further solidified for me the “meant to be-ness" of it all. It was a transformative experience for many reasons. I delivered a performance which is my most proud artistic moment to this day. It showed me that I know how to conduct myself on set. I learned that the transition from stage (which is all I had done previously) to film is something I could navigate easily because of my passion for the art. It was my first movie role and I had earned it on my own. It confirmed for me that I can make a living at this thing. It showed me that I am capable actually doing what I’d previously only dreamed of. It taught me that me dreams are real and most importantly it taught me that I'm capable of seeing any and all of my dreams to fruition, even becoming a movie star.
Why I do what I do...
To connect with people. Authentic human connection has the power to transform life as we know it. Art is a powerful platform and I feel I’ve been gifted with the passion and purpose of inspiring and illuminating the world through my creative gifts.
I’m also here to live, not just exist. I don’t know how to live without art. For me to be the person I was created to be, in order to live my highest purpose, I must create. I need to create like I need to breathe.
What about ECT inspires you?
Everything. Literally from the first moment I walked through its doors, I felt I had a creative home in which I could flourish. The FIRST MOMENT! That’s how special it is. I have long craved a place where artistic growth is relentlessly pursued by all its inhabitants. A place where I could risk, attempt, evolve and LIVE through my art. A place where I could not only grow and thrive, but be a part of something greater than myself. Probably the most inspirational thing about ECT for me is that it is a place that invests in its members based on nothing other than the potentiality of what they can become and their willingness to be challenged to get there.
Where have you traveled? Where would you like to visit?
Traveling is my favorite hobby! Last year I left the US and traveled as a way of life for a while. I have been to Egypt, Israel, Abu Dhabi, Russia, Italy, France, Mexico, Costa Rica, Turkey, The Bahamas and various states in America. As traveling is literally one of my favorite things the list of places I will visit is long. Some highlights are Peru, Brazil, Dubai, Thailand, The Maldives and Finland/Sweden/Norway/Iceland/Greenland to see Aurora Borealis.
My favorite "day-off" event would be...
Waking up in the presence of the love of my life and doing whatever the fuck I feel like as long as I do something productive/active.
If I had one million dollars I would...
*When* I have one million dollars I am going to retire my mother. I’ve never known a better provider. That woman has loved, cared, supported and believed in me in ways I couldn’t even fathom asking of another human being. My success is her success and her investment in me will lead to her never having to work another day in her life (except as my power of attorney cause I'm not trusting anyone else with my money lol).
Did you know...
I am a talented boxer, I’ve even trained in Floyd Mayweather's gym.
Nothing. There is no physical or material possession that I feel I HAVE to have 50 years from now.