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Meet Angelique “Angel” Maurnae of WATR in Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angelique “Angel” Maurnae.

Angelique, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I remember being maybe age four/five riding in the backseat of my Grammy’s car and she asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I answered, “A pediatrician,” without thought or hesitation. “You hear that? My baby wants to be a doctor!” She doted on me the whole ride home. I had no desire to be a pediatrician! None.

Being an adult wasn’t really even on my vision board at that age, but I knew that was kind of what I had to say. Doctors make people proud. We got home that night, and I resumed my regularly scheduled programming of screeching my favorite song at the top of my lungs, creating the necessary choreography and directing and starring in my latest mirror music video.

Performing was my favorite thing to do, but the thought of it being a career path was insane. It was more like this little secret I had. I could swear on Zeus himself that when I closed the bathroom door to begin my nightly vaudeville, no one had a clue what I was doing. Not my Grammy, who’s room was just on the other side of the drywall, not the neighbors, not God, no one okay!

I could go in that bathroom and be whoever I wanted to be for those 30 minutes under the foolproof guise that I was taking a bath. Ha! My Grammy was the best for never speaking of my activities outside of that 30-minute window…. Oh! And the occasional, “Girl! Would you be quiet!” She never shamed me.

I lived a normal life, had a normal childhood. I cut grass for money, I had a lemonade stand, I played outside with friends until the streetlights came on. But when I got to high school, I had no idea what I wanted to be in life. That felt abnormal to me. When other kids were applying to their dream schools, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to college.

What for? I hated kids, so pediatrician was out of the window. With my SAT scores, I could kiss being a lawyer goodbye. I was awful at advanced math so I couldn’t be an engineer. I had no discernible skills, but most of all, I had no passion for ANYTHING.

Like, how?? lol! I was probably a junior in high school when I ended up in a drama class by chance. We were tasked with performing a monologue of our choosing and designing our own lighting. That ain’t no problem! That ain’t no problem! I had only been directing mirror music videos like all my life. So I decided to keep it simple.

One red light was all I needed then it was my turn. The light came up and I began to speak. Immediately the energy in the room shifted. The mood changed. When I moved they moved. Not literally, but what I’m trying to describe is that special power a performer has to affect their audience. It feels like magic. And that monologue was my first spell. It changed me.

It was like finding out you have superpowers for the first time. All of a sudden I saw value in myself where there was none before. I may not have the skillset to be a doctor or lawyer or engineer, but I do possess the ability to affect people, to change people. If you can change one person, you’ve changed the world. Is that not as valuable as being a doctor or lawyer?

From there, I’ve just been doing what I gotta do to get where I gotta get. I was Born in St. Louis and raised all along the east coast. I’ve lived in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, and New York. I made the move to California to complete my training at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in 2014. I’ve been in LA ever since.

Has it been a smooth road?
What is a smooth road? What are those? I’ve never seen them before in my life! Lol, The great Paulo Coelho says in the Alchemist that when you set your heart on something you desire, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it. I believe that’s true… in part. From my experiences, I’ve come to understand the divine dichotomy of the universe.

Everything has a shadow side. Or as Newton says every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So when the entire universe conspires to help you achieve your desires that same universe also conspires to make sure you don’t. But the bigger truth is that everything even the obstacles and challenges all work for your greatest good. And that’s a good perspective to have when the biggest challenge you often face is yourself.

As a black woman, breaking into the industry is double, if not triple, harder than your average white male. But that’s expected. I knew at an early age from going to a predominantly white private school in Ferguson, Missouri, that the standard is different for me. I liiiiivved in the principles office. Always being punished for simple things like asking questions or trying to get help from other students on school work the teacher refused to help me with.

Those kinds of experiences helped me to understand that if I want to get anywhere in life, I have to hold myself to higher standard. I have to be the nicest person in the room, I have to be the smartest person in the room (not talking books but that helps), I have to be the hardest working person in the room, that’s if I just want to be considered equal and deserving of the same rights and privileges as my white counterparts.

Coming up in a world that doesn’t affirm you makes you internalize that negativity. You start to believe you aren’t worthy. And you carry that with you in everything you do until you decide that it’s not acceptable to live that way. That’s what I mean when I say the biggest challenge is often yourself. You have to decide you’re worth when all you hear is you’re not good enough. You have to say yes to yourself when people keep telling you no.

You have to believe in yourself so big and so pure beyond a shadow of a doubt that you spark other folks to believe with you. With that kind of belief, you stop waiting on somebody to say yes to you and create your own lane. You start creating spaces where you and other people like you feel valued. And when you put that kind of energy into the world, it comes back to you.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the WATR story. Tell us more about the business.
I’m a creator that specializes in acting with areas of interest in writing, producing, and directing content that challenges societal norms and standards of beauty to encourage people to be their most authentic selves. Out of boredom and restlessness, I started a YouTube channel. It became my outlet during the time when Donald Trump came on the scene threatening us with his presidency. And it helped focus my energy when I wasn’t getting any work. I don’t make as much content on there anymore #booked #blessed, but it inspired me to create on a bigger scale.

My mom, my best friend Arely and I came together and started a media company, We Are the Rare (WATR), where we create content that falls in line with that mission. So that’s where I am now, in development on a couple of different projects, a short film, a web series, and a movie script. I’m not really known for anything yet. I’m a babe in my career right now. I’m at that stage where you spend way more money trying to make money than actually making money. But I love it! The small victories along the way make it way worth it. Speaking of victories… (haha! What a segue!)

I think I’m most proud of the work I’ve done that makes a direct impact on the world in some way. I got the opportunity to be a part of a show for the Midnight Mission with Homeward LA that raised money for the homeless population in LA. Collectively we raised over 50k for that one event. LA I think has the second largest homeless population in the nation if I’m not mistaken. I mean you can’t come to LA and not notice. You see it pretty much everywhere you go. And I always feel like I should be able to do more than give a water bottle here and there or buy a meal for someone when I can.

With the cost of living here, most of us are teetering the edge of homelessness when the rent is due. It just felt… right.. use my gifts to give back. I also currently have a breast cancer awareness campaign running for Susan G. Komen. We should all know that breast cancer impacts black women at a much higher rate than any other demographic. But a lot of people don’t. So to be a part of something that spotlights and shows black women in such a beautiful and positive light while at the same time bringing awareness that hopefully can lead to prevention meant a lot to me. ALSO!

My Lil cameo on season 3 of Insecure is definitely a highlight as well! I’m a fan of the show and everything it’s doing for the culture so it was really cool to be a small part of that. As corny as this is about to sound it’s true. Me.. just being me.. is what sets me apart. The more I discover who and what that is the more the world seems to… bend to me… I don’t know if that’s the right verbiage. Those that get it will get it. But I have to give up all the praise to my family and friends for allowing me room to be my best self. And getting me together when I’m my worst self.

Saying to somebody just be yourself don’t help nobody. People need the room. Discovering yourself is messy. And it takes courage to stand fully in yourself knowing that there’s nothing else in the world like you and that what you are is weird and strange and probably not up to acceptable societal standards. That can be tough. But your most authentic self is your greatest asset. Aside from authenticity expansion is a major key. Building and collaborating with other people. It truly takes a village.

And I’m antisocial, so I’m still figuring that out along with everything else. But listen! I would be nowhere if my parents didn’t support me the way they do. My mom moved her whole life here to California all the way from Virginia… for ME! Just cause I want to be an actress she came here to make sure I had support. What!! And if that wasn’t enough, she’s been like OctoMomager! She takes my headshots, IG pics, manages, advises, counsels, provides shelter, acts in my videos, AND loves me??

I Stan man… I would be nothing without my friend Arely who’s really a sister to me. She’s always there to bounce ideas around, always down to help make things happen, she’s just always down! Everybody needs a down ass bitch! I don’t have many friends, but the friends I do have are down Af. Brenden! If I need a photographer a warm body a place to stay a lunch buddy… you see where I’m going with this. Lol, it’s all about connections. AUTHENTIC connections. And it starts with you.

With expansion, with being able to recognize when to come outside of yourself. You’re a gift. Literally! It doesn’t serve you to keep you to yourself namsayin? There’s synergy in collaboration. It feeds everyone. Every time I’ve had the courage to grow and expand instead of shrinking I’ve made a connection that either spurred me forward in some way or sparked the next person to go forward. And that’s what it’s all about! When you turn your light on it lights up everyone around you.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years?  Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
In the next 5-10 years, I see the word diversity falling to the wayside. It’s like a hot button word right now. Everyone’s trying to diversify now. It’s a little annoying and offensive because it’s like oh now you see me as valuable because you can profit off me.

It’s not diversity because the world is diverse and we as an industry should strive to reflect that. Not saying that’s what’s happening across the board but it feels like it’s moving in that direction with the inundation of sooo much content coming out on tv and in film.

My belief or my hope is that just like the word desegregated was dropped so shall it be with word diversity. Diversity will be the standard. It will be the norm.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Toni Williams, Brenden Solomon

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