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Meet Mansi Mehra

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mansi Mehra.

Mansi, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up as a kid, I was shy, introverted, and nerdy with an intense focus on stellar academic standing. At the time, my ambition was only limited to top-notch grades and any social activities outside of that was deemed as irrelevant.

I completed my undergraduate studies from India in Electronics & Communication Engineering and following my graduation, I started working at Accenture. I had no plans to live and work in the USA then. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, I found myself applying for graduate programs in the USA and consequently, got accepted to the University of Southern California (USC) for Computer Science.

I always had an urge to explore my creative side, but I suppressed it constantly. I could no longer continue pushing out my dreams,, and despite my hectic schedule of graduate school and work, I embarked on a project called Snail Mail My Email (SMME). The project entailed artists from all over the world making snail mails for random strangers. That marked the turning point of my life whereby I quickly volunteered for programs like American Film Institute(AFI) Film Festival and Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA). I also enlisted to become a Radio Jockey at a local LA based hindi radio station, Mera Sangeet.

This was just the beginning of my quest to explore the creative arts. I started acting in short films and consequently, created one which was nominated for a few film festivals. Naturally, I started interacting with all sorts of artists from the industry and in particular, comedians. My curiosity about comedy was peaked and one day, I got the notion to sign up for a stand-up comedy class while browsing Groupon. Following completion of the class, I went to my first open mic session event. Despite my nervousness, a producer at the event saw my performance and asked me to perform at her show. And the rest becomes history.

On 22nd July 2016, I received some life-changing news from home that my father had passed away. It was then that I got an epiphany that there is a small bridge between life and death and you will never know when it’s your time to cross it. This inspired me to become more serious in pursuing stand-up comedy. I started working at larger events and eventually, started to travel across the country to perform as a stand-up comedian. In addition, I have performed opening acts for several well-known comedians and recently, performed for a massive event that got featured in LA Times.

Lastly, stand-up comedy has opened many more avenues such as partnering with corporate, non-profit and other organizations as an MC to host events in the presence of other celebrities. I have also conducted motivational presentations and talks to many high school student. This was way more than I could have asked for. I have been very grateful to every single opportunity and the learning continues.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My journey has been rocky and yet fascinating from the start. I have dealt with constant prejudice in both of my fields: engineering and comedy, as a minority female hailing from a different background and culture. However, my favorite part is to prove the naysayers wrong. A woman can be a homemaker as well as tech-savvy. She can be funny and still have her own list of struggles and pain. I have had to juggle a lot between my full-time job and late night comedy shows. Sometimes the shows require long hours, which leads to more preparations, and thus, resulting in sleepless nights. But its all worth it in the end!

Despite my accent being a barrier at times, being multilingual has became my strength. I didn’t realize how my background could help me to connect with more people from several different backgrounds including Eastern countries. Another challenge is to be able to create standup material that could appeal and be relatable to an American audience, in spite of my Indian background. I want to reduce the stereotypes especially when it comes to Indian accents as shown in Simpsons, or Big Bang Theory. That’s not how most of the Indians speak. 🙂 As the world is getting smaller with social media, the boundaries are decreasing with cultures blending. I really see the comedy space becoming more diverse bringing a lot of variety to the audience.

What else should we know about your work and career so far?  What are you currently focused on?
I am a stand-up comedian and filmmaker. My job also entails hosting several large corporate and cultural events. My comedy sketch is more observational and depicts challenges of being an Indian in America. Being multilingual, I write in different languages to perform at events where it is a mixed audience. This adds a different flavor to my act. I am proud of bringing a different kind of content to the stage which intrigues the American audience. I do write poetry in Hindi and Urdu which has been raved at several events takes them down the memory lane. Also, I’m a proud engineer.

Also, I recently won the title “Ms. Exuberant Spirit 2019” at Ms. Reshma Beauty USA 2019 held in Saban Theater in Beverly Hills on May 3, 2019.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
For the longest time, I thought graduating from a renowned university, getting top-notch grades, working for a Fortune 500 firm – was the ultimate identifier of success in life. Until I got all of that and realized I was just another faceless individual in the rat race. Now I feel I need to do something in the world that is beyond me. Bringing joy in people’s life, making a difference in the society, leaving a legacy, and not just having a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) but also a high Emotional Quotient (EQ).

I have always been an explorer and a learner. I feel that embarking on a new journey brings me closer to success. We talk differently about personal and professional successes, but I feel they are inter-related. If you learn empathy in your personal life, you become a better performer at work too. People skills are essential in order to attain success in any sphere of life. At the end of the day, it’s your happiness that counts and not material things acquired such as huge mansions or climbing into the highest echelons of the corporate ladder.

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