Miranda Rae Mayo interview: On Stella, Stellaride and being badass

Chicago Fire’s Miranda Rae Mayo talks to One Chicago Center about Stella Kidd’s future, Stellaride’s prospects, and being part of Chicago Fire season 6.

Miranda Rae Mayo has become a major part of Chicago Fire, with her character Stella Kidd having some big choices to make when Chicago Fire season 6 returns.

Will Stella ever get together with Kelly Severide? Will we learn more about her this season, like that difficult past that’s still to be completely explored? And why is she so cool?

One Chicago Center connected with Miranda Rae Mayo to get the answers to all these questions and talk about her two-year anniversary as part of the Chicago Fire family.

Check out what Miranda had to tell us below, and then check her out as Stella Kidd when Chicago Fire returns tonight at 10 p.m. on NBC.

FanSided: Your first episode of Chicago Fire aired two years ago this month. How would you say Stella has changed or grown since that first episode?

Miranda Rae Mayo (MRM): It is crazy how time flies. I’ve seen her grow so much in her ability to set boundaries with the men in her life and take care of herself first. I think she used to hold her emotional cards closer to her chest, but throughout these two years we’ve seen her become more and more at home with her firehouse family and more willing to be vulnerable in expressing how she feels.

She definitely still has a bit of a “strength wall” up, because it’s just how she’s had to operate since her parents died, but she is allowing herself to be vulnerable more than she ever has. I’m forever grateful the writers continue to grow and nurture her character into the self-realized badass we see each week.

FS: We see she gets a bit of a scare in tonight’s episode because of Severide jumping into the river. Could that motivate Stella to finally make a move in their relationship?

MRM: It could, but again, she has gotten a lot better at not being so short-sighted with her relationship decisions. Especially after the drunk kiss. It’s clear that she loves him, but she also feels that Zach [Daniel Di Tomasso] is a good, healthy match for her. I don’t think that will be easy for her to abandon.

FS: Regardless of what happens with Stellaride, your chemistry with Taylor Kinney has been praised by many people. What would you say makes the two of you click together so well?

MRM: I honestly have no idea! We do trust each other; maybe that’s it. Whenever we have scenes together, he knows I have his back and I know he has mine and that’s what everyone is watching, this ongoing trust fall where we continue to catch one another.

FS: Outside of the Severide relationship, what’s coming up for Stella in Chicago Fire season 6? Are we going to see storylines for her separate from that relationship?

MRM: I hope so! The more the merrier. There are a couple really awesome stunt type things coming up I’m excited for everyone to see, and I will always enjoy more storylines about her life before 51.

FS: Speaking of, the audience has wanted to see her dealing with the demons of her past a bit more. That was hinted at in the midseason finale but hasn’t quite gone anywhere. Do you think Stella still has unresolved issues in that sense, or has she moved past all that?

MRM: Me too, audience! I think that anyone who has struggled with addiction comes face to face with it on the daily. In [Alcoholics Anonymous], their motto is “one day at a time,” and I think that’s exactly how she lives her life; one day at a time. I also think the loss of both of her parents at such a young age is a trauma that weighs on her spirit more regularly than she lets on.

FS: Your first TV role was in a Dick Wolf show—an episode of Law & Order: LA. What was that experience like, and does it feel like you’ve kind of come full circle now?

MRM: I remember getting that phone call and was just over the moon. It felt like confirmation that this acting thing could actually work out after all. When I went to set, I remember I had no idea what was going on. It just felt like I had jumped into the center of this heavy piece of machinery and was trying to move around without getting my hand chopped off.

Now, being on set, knowing what the different jobs are, and feeling at home with all of the on-set etiquette, it’s pretty incredible to see how much I’ve learned since stepping onto the Law & Order set seven years ago. It also gives me great comfort and trust in myself, realizing that just because I don’t know the ins and outs of something I want to be successful at now, doesn’t mean that I won’t in the future.

FS: This is the longest time you’ve gotten to spend playing one character, so from an acting standpoint, how has it been to live with Stella Kidd for two years and keep developing her?

MRM: It’s definitely allowed me to fine-tune a very particular set of skills. So far it feels like television is all about endurance—how good my work can be with very little prep time and how long I can sustain that work flow while contributing positive, collaborative energy to our set family. I’m still experimenting with what works and what doesn’t work, but so far it has been the most brilliant education and the biggest blessing in my life thus far.

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FS: Just as Miranda Rae Mayo, what would you say you’ve taken away from your Chicago Fire experience?

MRM: Collaboration is the most powerful tool next to love and empathy. I used to believe I would be seen as more powerful and respectable if I was the one who did everything, but that is just never the case. Never ever. The more I collaborate, set my ego to the side and focus on the things I feel confident in, the more brilliant the overall product is. I am forever grateful to my family at Chicago Fire for teaching me that through their example.

What do you want to see for Stella in Chicago Fire season 6? Let us know your thoughts below and tune into a new episode tonight to see what happens next.

Chicago Fire airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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