We had the good fortune of connecting with Mikaela Fleming and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mikaela, why did you pursue a creative career?
Why did I pursue a creative career? Good question. I don’t think I ever really had a choice. One of my earliest memories, I remember running around on a playground making up stories and performing them for my mother when I was a kid. (Thanks mom for always being my biggest fan!) I was always positive that I wanted to create something. It manifested in many ways. I began writing poetry in Elementary school. I begged to take acting classes and sing in musicals growing up. I felt the most at home when I was given the tools and permission to be artistic. It’s an absolute shame that so many children do not receive the support at home to explore imagination. Children deserve for their creativity to be nurtured. I truly believe that you can learn the most about yourself and the world through an artistic lens. Now as an adult (wow, that’s scary to say) I have the incredible honor to be creative in a multitude of different positions in my career. I get to teach performance at a university. I get to travel and create immersive theatrical experiences all over the country. I write, I sing, I perform, and most importantly I observe. I am in a position where I get to create jobs and also help educate students on how performance and art can change their lives. I’m humbled every day. The actors I work with and my students teach me not only about art but teach me how to be a better human being. Art picked me. I’m eternally grateful.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve explored the many ways that you can add art to your career. I didn’t realize the lovely blend of activism and performing that existed. I got the opportunity to perform and direct The Vagina Monologues in college, but my knowledge on social justice performance art was lacking. In grad school I was an assistant director for a Performance Ensemble that tackled many issues personal to the actors like assault, identity, immigration, body, culture, and acceptance. Not only did I get the chance to explore my own life through poetry, narrative, and autoethnography, but I was also able to help guide others through the same process. After I graduated, I wanted to continue the work. I became a lecturer at a university and began teaching performance and culture, performance of literature, and public speaking courses. Creating, observing, and helping my student’s with their anxiety and self esteem was healing to me. It helped me process a lot of my own trauma. It felt like the work I was doing was important. It sparked my passion to continue to create performance opportunities that allowed actors and the audience to learn more about their role in culture. I also work for an incredible company that creates immersive theatrical experiences all over the world. I get to help the actors transform a normal space into a whole new world that the audience is allowed to escape into. I think we all deserve the chance to dive deep into our own imaginations.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m a little biased but one of my favorite places in Los Angeles is The Wizard’s Den in Hollywood. Tickets are now on sale at Explorehidden.com and on the instagram page @TheWizardsDenBars. The Wizard’s Den is an immersive cocktail experience that takes patrons through 90 minutes of “potion” making, riddles, and trivia. It allows the audience to dive into a magical universe where they can leave their worries behind. There are so many creative outlets and events in Los Angeles, that the list could go on forever! Now that the city is opening up, I can’t wait to go out and support our community again.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by a strong support system in my life. My mother is a professional working woman who never told me I couldn’t do something. I’ve had incredible professors in undergrad and graduate school that gave me the tools to be a stronger educator and artist. I want to dedicate this shoutout to all the women in my life that never allowed society to hold them back.