Award Winning Director, Actor, and Writer: Yhá Mourhia Wright
Bay Area native turned New Yorker, Yhá Mourhia has let her passion for storytelling take her on a wild adventure full of opportunity.
Recently winning “Best Actress” in the Riant Theatre’s Strawberry One-Act Play Festival for her work in the play “Opportunity” written by Stanley Martin and directed by Micheal Blatt as well as portraying Mia on the popular digital series “Pillow Talk” created by the Emmy-nominated Producers of “Tough Love.” Yhá Mourhia spends most of her time juggling life on stage, in front of the camera, and behind it. Writing, directing, producing and acting in her award winning web series, “Love My Roomie” followed by her work as assistant director and producer on, “SPOT: A True Period Piece” which has made its way into the Holly Short Festival. Having a lot going on is truly an understatement for this powerhouse of a woman.
We had the chance to speak with her about work, the industry, and the types of stories that are captivating audiences today.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO WORK IN THIS INDUSTRY?
So when my parents set up a home video camera, I remember I was wearing turquoise, flower jumpsuit, very 90s, I remember being in front of the camera and being like, “Hi my name is Yhá Mouriha.” And being very excited about this thing that captured me talking to it. So it was always there. I always loved creating and storytelling. I’ve always wanted to have a platform and more than anything I’m passionate about giving other people a platform.
WHAT CAPTURES YOUR INTEREST THE MOST? WORKING IN FRONT OF OR BEHIND THE CAMERA?
My favorite thing to do acting wise is be on stage. I love performing in film, television, digitally, I love the camera but there’s nothing like being on stage. I also love producing but I don’t know if I can say that I love one more than the other. I do know that I definitely need to circulate if that makes sense? I need to feel that balance where I’m not just doing one thing. I can’t do it all at once but I like to have my hands in different places. I think the most consistent thing I do is write, because writing is that thing that you always need to do if you’re gonna do it. So writing and producing are the most consistent because I’m constantly doing both.
YOU TELL AN ARRAY OF DIFFERENT STORIES, WHAT TYPE OF STORY DO YOU THINK IS IMPORTANT TO EVERYONE TODAY?
Authentic stories. I think we as a collective, Millennials or even Baby Boomers, have this want for authentic stories. It may look different generationally, demographically, you can break it down to how that looks but I think we are in the age where people really want authenticity. Which means the task of the storyteller, whether you’re in front of the camera or behind it, is to be honest. You can be funny and honest, you can be dramatic and honest but people value honesty. We really like to hear people’s voices and I think that is why independent content is thriving because people want that, they want to connect with a person and not just false, elaborate, version of a story.
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST LESSON THIS INDUSTRY HAS TAUGHT YOU IN REGARDS TO PURSUING YOUR DREAMS?
You know right now I’m learning how to stay myself but also not be apologetic. It’s a challenge for me to be this bubbly, bright personality but also ensure that people understand that I’m so serious about what I’m saying. I’ve had to learn to not apologize for saying, “no you cannot do that” or “no put your cellphone down on set it’s distracting and it’s slowing you down.” I’ve had to learn and understand that I still say things from love but as a woman I need to know that my voice is heard. The thing this year for me professionally, is learning to find my professional voice. It’s been a challenge that I’m actively learning and unlearning ways in which I apologize for who I am and for my space and the space I need to take up in order to push vision along.
Another lesson I learned, finances, you need to ask for help. You need to write grants, ask for help to do that foot work. I self funded so much of Love My Roomie and while it’s a source of pride and a lot of filmmakers do it, it’s also of financial strain and I have to be able to live a life.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE JUST STARTING IN THEIR JOURNEY INTO THIS INDUSTRY?
I’ve often just said, “Do it, just go” and I think that still applies. But I also think education is now where I’m at now. Also, the word networking is used often and I think it just has all of these connotations but I truly think it’s important to meet people, you need people. I think my advice would be to tell people not to get jaded. Not to give up when people aren’t able to deliver what they promised, learn forgiveness but also learn that you will eventually find your people but it takes a lot of time. I’ve had a lot of disappointments and a lot of people who I counted on along the way who disappeared, who didn’t want to be there anymore because it’s hard. I would tell people to continue on and to know that you need people and don’t let disappointment harden your heart because you need your heart for your art. (laughing) It sounds so corny but it’s true.
DESCRIBE YOUR SLAY.
I remember the people who have said they believed in me. I remember the people at home in Cali really, they get me up here. There has been plenty of times where I’ve wanted to give up but I remember those people. It’s my people, it’s love and knowing that it’s not about me. And in the same way I’m inspired by Oprah, by Michelle Obama, by Dr. Maya Angelou, by all of these women, I owe it to the world to pour that energy back in because there is someone who needs what I’m doing so that they can then give back, it’s not all about me. That is literally what keeps me going because if I think about how I feel everyday… (laughing). I just remember that there is a bigger picture and that is how I slay.