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Meet Bri Mai

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bri Mai.

Bri, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story began all the way back to Vietnam, where I was born and raised. As I stepped into my first year in high school, I remember feeling I was missing a part of me that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. I was doing a little bit of dancing, singing, and photography whenever I had free time from my stressful academic classes and extra classes outside of school.

As much as life there was simple and peaceful, I felt restricted in expressing myself, misunderstood and sometimes even suffocated. Like a fish in a pond dying to get out in the ocean, I wanted more, something bigger. So when I was sixteen, with my Mom’s help, I went on an exchange year in the US. Texas was my first home in America. I remember having my little culture shock for a few hours, then pulled myself together to acknowledge that it was not a dream.

Being in an entirely new environment, I felt this fresh air of possibilities and creative flow. I started dedicating myself to YouTube (brischillcorner) and songwriting. I would put up song covers, originals, and travel videos weekly. I felt the most myself when I sang, made videos, or just created. For me, Texas was one of the biggest years of change in my life.

Besides discovering American holidays like Black Friday and Thanksgiving, I was surrounded by amazing and talented people who inspired me to always strive for being more curious and ambitious. Monique, one of my closest friends whom I met in AP Physics—and is also an incredible pianist – is currently going to Baylor to become a lawyer. My host Mom at the time, Alex, is one of the smartest and most caring people I’ve ever met, and she is an aerospace engineer for NASA.

Every single person I’ve met not just in Texas, but throughout my journey in the States has contributed to making me who I am today. After finishing my school year in Texas, I decided to continue my education in the US. Even though Texas was an absolutely wonderful place to start, I still wanted more; so I moved to Arizona. Arizona was like a new wave, you could say, “heat wave.”. I took “TV and Film Production,” my first ever film class, and “Photography.” It didn’t take me long to completely fall in love with filmmaking.

I made my first 30-second commercial, PSA, documentary, music video and most importantly, my first horror short “Be Happy” with one of my dearest friends Julia; she’s currently a Norwegian filmmaker. Mrs. Murphy, my film teacher at the time, has to be one of the most influential people in my life. Not only did she guide me to complete my first film projects, but she was also one of my major pushes to give LA a try.

2017 was coming to an end, and with every high school senior around me rushing to get their college applications in, I was torn between choosing what I love, and careers I knew would give me jobs. But I thought to myself—if I’ve been following my heart all this time, why stop now? So, Los Angeles, it was.

Moving to LA in summer of 2018, it wasn’t just a fresh air of possibilities and creative flow; it was the ultimate factory for possibilities and creative flow. Today, everybody around me is always doing something and hustling to make their dreams come true, which constantly makes me ask myself: “If you’re not doing more and doing your best, what are you doing?”; and I love it. I’m currently a full-time film student, model, photographer, and video creator.

Many people know me from my fashion, editorial, and artistic nude modeling work or/and through my Instagram page @mai.bri. Currently, I’m also focusing more on improving and expanding the reach of my own fashion photography and video work to a wider audience, especially in the creative community. I’m proud of myself to have made it here, but I’m so excited and eager to accomplish so much more. This is only my new beginning.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Not at all. I think when you have to give up certain things in your life to travel and follow your dreams, the road can get lonely and overwhelming. One of my biggest obstacles was myself.

In order to encourage and inspire others to express themselves in their own ways, I had to learn (and am still learning) to be vulnerable with myself and to the world, and feel it so deeply that I’m able to channel it into my art.

I’ve also had moments of weighing and doubting my ability. I remember being told I was just delusional and dreamed too big, and I almost believed it; that was a scary time. But one of the things I’m good at is snapping out of it and saying “fuck it.”

I’ve learned that when you go into things with the mentality of “the worst thing could happen is being said no to” or “it can only go up from here,” it gets a lot less scary. And even if you’re told “No,” that’s just one out of millions of doors of opportunities. The more doors you try, the more likely you are to find one that’s open.

The road has been made a lot smoother by the people who are close to me though. I feel incredibly lucky to have my family and friends along the way to support me, believe in me, and pick me up when things get rough. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have that foundation of support you can always go to.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I’m a fashion, editorial and artistic model, photographer, video creator, and film student—specifically pursuing in cinematography and editing. I’m most known for my fashion, editorial, and artistic nude modeling.

When I’m able to convey my emotions and have the audience feel a connection when they look at my photo, that’s when I’ve done my job as an artist. Every piece of art carries a purpose, a feeling or multiple feelings.

My purpose for every photo is to inspire individuals and especially women—to feel beautiful in their own skin, to express themselves and their confidence not only through the way they talk and act but through their work as well.

Beauty is not what society or social media defines it as. Beauty has no standard. Beauty is doing what works for yourself and makes you the most happy. As a brand and creator, staying true to that purpose is what I’m most proud of.

What sets me apart from others is my expressive, bold and creative style. An artistic element is always a must, whether that element is in the styling, pose, or expression, all of them work together to bring out the emotion or message the photo tries to convey.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success simply starts with doing what you love. For me, that’s the ability to create freely as an artist and not only inspire people through my work but show them the world from a different perspective. Being successful is also being a person everyone wants to work with.

I believe that in all professions, networking and having a good reputation play an extremely important role in anyone’s career. In order to have a good reputation, doing your best but always staying true to yourself, being considerate, professional and constantly learning and asking questions.

I think every single one of these is a major factor that contributes to a person’s success.

Last but not least, success is being able to buy my Mom a house and take her around the world.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kenneth Ruddy, Leyla Sapad, Allen Henson, Jason Harpole, Eric Callejero, Simeonfoto, Manuel Guzman, Mark Kelly

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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