I know a lot of cool people, and I have no problem bragging about them and all of the fascinating things that they accomplish on a daily basis. This is a new series I’m creating that highlights the truly brilliant people I have come to know. Everyone who I talk to in these interviews is remarkable in their own way and each has made an impact on me personally. They inspire me to do better, work harder and dream larger. Without further ado, here is my first Mover And Shaker, Ms. Mia Brabham.
Hayley Verdeyen: Okay so you’re the second person for me to interview in my entire life. I’m going to try to make this great. It’s actually practice for when you become so well known that I’ll need to make an appointment to talk to you.
Mia Brabham: [laughs] This is exciting, I love you.
HV: Alright let’s get down to business. You yourself have a blog that has recently completed its 365 day run. What kept you so dedicated to writing a lesson everyday for a year?
MB: Yes I did! It was one of my favorite things I think I’ve ever accomplished. There were a quite few things that kept me going, especially words of encouragement from friends and family! But the main thing that definitely kept me inspired and motivated to finish was that ending moment—to be able to say “I did this for 365 days and I stuck with it.” There were definitely times I wanted to quit, but I knew that if I did I would be mad at myself for it in the future. It’s always about the journey. But getting to the end and being able to look back on that journey is the cool part about any experience. And it was so extremely worth it.
HV: How does it feel to know that you’ve connected, and related with, a huge audience? Because I know that for me personally, I’ve loved reading through your days and each mindset that came with them.
MB: That’s so sweet of you! That really means a lot, thank you so much. It’s honestly so comforting. I’m sure as a writer you know this, but it really is scary to open up about your life, write about your mistakes and talk about your feelings and life and people in it. I felt like I was Taylor Swift on paper some days [laughs] and I didn’t know how to feel about it. You don’t mean to say anything bad, but when something is a part of your day and you’re writing about your life for 365 days—you have to talk about it whether it’s good or bad. And then to put it on the internet for everyone to see? Yeah. [laughs] Definitely scary. But some of the best moments happened when I was scared to post or say something honestly, but then I did, and it ended up really resonating with people. Some of those lessons were some of the most popular, which was comforting in a way because it means other people have been through or have experienced the same thing. Well, that or they either enjoy seeing me suffer, [laughs], which I hope is not the case. But when I would get comments and responses of people who were going through the same thing or were inspired to be better because of something I learned, I literally had tears in my eyes. And guest lessons…oh my gosh. One person told me before this blog they were too scared to share what they write, and this was the first thing they had ever published. It makes me happy knowing that I inspire people, but what they don’t know is that they inspire me right back.
HV: Let’s speak more on your guest lessons. You gave all your guest writers, essentially, free range on what they wanted to speak on. That’s a really bold move and its paid off. What are some of the things these guest lessons have taught you?
MB: That everyone has a story. That we all face and confront and learn and experience the same things, but in different ways. And it’s so so amazing to me how each person approaches the same topics with a different perspective, and how we can learn from everyone, at any age. It never ceases to amaze me. Quite a few of the guest lessonists told me before writing their guest lesson, “I don’t know what to say” or “you’ve already written about that before” and I’d be like “No, no, no, no—everyone has a story to tell. And each person tells it differently.” That’s my huge thing. And it turned out great. I’ve learned to cherish great friends. I’ve learned that everyone is a blessing, whether they were good or bad to you, because they teach you something about yourself. I’ve learned to keep moving, to line up your values with your actions to live a better life, to not put all your eggs in one basket. And that’s just a few things people have written on that I loved. When each person submitted their guest lesson, I’d email them back with one of my favorite quotes that I ran across my freshman year of college in a Megan Brown essay—”If we aren’t telling our stories, then we’re just consuming others’ lives.” And it’s so true. By telling your story, you actively contribue to the world rather than sitting on the sidelines.
HV: So your lessons blog coming to a close isn’t the only huge accomplishment that you have under your belt this summer. Fill me in on all the ins and out of your internship with E! Network.
MB: It was the best experience of my life. Oh my goodness. What do you want to know specifically?
HV: Say I got an internship with them next summer. What would be some of Mia B’s tips for surviving the E! Network internship program?
MB: Time is short but sweet. Let me tell you—time flies. Make every single moment count. Don’t wait until the last minute to do all the things you want to do. Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself, and create opportunity for yourself. Most importantly—be fearless. You’ll be glad you were in the end.
Find out more about Mia’s advice on Internships with her blog post here.
HV: E! dabbles in tons of facets of the entertainment industry. What was your favorite part?
MB: I’ve always loved television series, like scripted dramas and what not. But working at E! News this summer made me super interested in the reporting side of things. I love the junkets, like the sit-down interviews with movie stars and artists. You get to find out more about their lives and their projects and what they’re working on, and that’s super cool! But I’m most definitely a film girl at heart; journalism is so different!
HV: Go on, name drop all the celebrities you saw. I want to live vicariously through you.
MB: [Laughs]…. uh…. Ian Somerhalder, 50 Cent, the American Horror Story stars (Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates OMG) , Sofia Vergara and the best moment of my life was breathing the same air as Tyra Banks, my idol. I died.
HV: [freaks out] Oh my freaking freak. Okay, so you’re a senior in college now, that’s absolutely insane. Now that you’re closing the distance between yourself and graduation, how will you balance your social life and classes and organizations?
MB: I know right?! I won’t. I won’t at all. I’ll probably cry a lot, eat a lot of pizza and then cry some more. Just kidding, sort of. [Laughs]. But actually, I saw Andy Cohen talk while I was an intern at NBC Universal and I asked him about that. I was like, “you literally do it all…how?” And he was like “I don’t know.” We laughed, and then he said, “deadline to deadline.” So probably that. But even in just revisiting that moment right now, I realized something. No one ever really knows how they get everything done, they just do. And I think that really is the key. You just make it happen however you can when it’s important to you.
HV: Now I’d like to get a little deeper, poke around in your mind and all that. What is it that you’d like to do after graduation? Regardless of its likeliness of happening, what do you want to get your hands on? And if everything is your answer that is perfectly acceptable.
MB: Change people’s lives. That’s my calling. To inspire people and change the world and shake up the entertainment industry. I want people to create their own cultures instead of living lives they’ve been taught to believe they should lead. I don’t know how I’m going to do that just yet. But I’m into a lot of things; writing, design, film, television, new media—so I have a lot of options. I feel like my YouTube channel has been the best medium for me to reach people, and my blog has been a close second. But my ultimate dream is to host and produce my own talk show. I can bring that fun side of entertainment with celebrities and film and music, but also show the world real people and real stories. Can I be a Tyra-Oprah hybrid? Yeah. That’s what I want to do. But I’m just going with the flow for now, listening to whatever or wherever God puts my heart next.
HV: And since it’s coming up, next week I think but correct me if I’m wrong, FROG week. Let’s have a chat about how you will help new, likely intimidated, freshman get acclimated to JMU. You’re the perfect fit for this job by the way.
MB: OH MY GOSH YES. 1787 ORIENTATION HOLY CRAP. I can’t believe this is literally coming fill circle. How I began my freshman year, and how I’ll begin my senior year. I can’t even begin to express how excited I am to meet and talk to the first years. JMU is such an incredible place and experience, and to have the opportunity to be one of the first people involved in someone’s memories here is just so exciting to me. I know I had a hard time prior to coming to school; I actually had really bad anxiety coming into college. It was hard for me to leave home and my family, and I struggled with that a lot. But coming to JMU was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve grown so much, and I can’t wait to help my first years do just that.
HV: Beach or mountains?
MB: I’ve definitely had a more recent fascination with mountains after hiking a few times in LA.
HV: Mamma Mia or Grease?
MB: GREASE FOREVER OMG. First musical I ever fell in love with. So many memories.
HV: Big cat or little dog?
MB:Little dog. My dog is little. 😍
HV: Most brag worthy thing you’ve ever done?
MB: Um… either landing my internship at E! News or somehow earning 18,000 subscribers and 2 million video views on YouTube. Either way I’m just like, “what the actual f**k.” [Pauses] I changed my mind. I make really bomb ramen, that’s brag-worthy.
HV: Cause closest to your heart?
MB: I don’t if it’s a cause, but as of recently #BlackLivesMatter for sure.
HV: If you were to say, meet your favorite singer, what would you do to make yourself memorable?
MB: Pass out at their feet and have to be rushed to the hospital. Sorry, Beyoncé.
HV: Least appealing item on the Chipotle line?
MB: [laughs] Absolutely none of them.
HV: If you had to choose a shoe to wear for the next six months, every dang day, what would it be?
MB: My Jesus sandals from Target. Amazing. They’ve been through everything.
HV: Best college memory? Appropriate or inappropriate. Either is totally welcome.
MB: Definitely freshman year when classes got cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy and campus went wild. We stormed Carrier Library with a boom box then paraded to the Village basketball court to have an impromptu dance. People were dressed in hot dog costumes and speedos and jumping off the basketball hoop to crowd surf and I was literally like “wtf is happening? I love this.” This is why they don’t tell us if class is cancelled until 6am.
Love, Class of 2016.
HV: And finally, where do you consider home?
MB: Wherever my family is.
Now some time for shameless promotion of this amazing human being: