Chicago Fire’s Miranda Rae Mayo on this week’s ‘beautiful’ Stella episode

CHICAGO FIRE -- "Don't Hang Up" Episode 913 -- Pictured: Miranda Rae Mayo as Stella Kidd -- (Photo by: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "Don't Hang Up" Episode 913 -- Pictured: Miranda Rae Mayo as Stella Kidd -- (Photo by: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC) /

Stella Kidd is front and center in tomorrow’s Chicago Fire, which means Miranda Rae Mayo has another chance to shine just like her One Chicago alter ego.

In “Don’t Hang Up,” Stella gets an urgent call from a young woman in danger, and has to work to identify who she is and where she is before it’s too late. At the same time, she’s getting her last preparations in for the lieutenant’s exam, and she ends up in a tree.

One Chicago Center spoke to Miranda about what’s coming up in the next episode, what it means to her when there’s a Stella-centric story, and her thoughts on a Stellaride wedding before the end of Chicago Fire season 9. Plus, who does she want more scenes with?

Here’s what she had to say before “Don’t Hang Up” airs tomorrow on NBC at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

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One Chicago Center: This isn’t the first Chicago Fire episode where Stella’s gone off on a mission. What does it mean to you when Stella gets to lead an episode?

Miranda Rae Mayo: Depending where I’m at emotionally, that answer changes…But right now, in this moment, it feels like this big, kind of challenging puzzle. And I love puzzles.

I am a person that puts a lot of pressure on myself and I think I bring that to Stella. That’s one of the ways that I really get to express that, and it creates catharsis around that.  [There’s] an imposter syndrome that I experience, really, through the experience of Stella. And I actually love these scenes, so there’s definitely a part of me that feels completely overwhelmed by what a beautiful opportunity that it is and doesn’t want to fuck it up.

Then there’s another part of me, at the same time, in the same space, that is very excited by the challenge, and is like, yeah, I can do this. Let’s f–king do it.

OCC: People who are in trouble or looking for something, particularly young women, seem to gravitate toward Stella to help them. What do you think it is about her that people respond to?

MRM: She knows what it feels like to be in crisis, and she knows what it feels like to survive crisis. She just has space for it. I mean, even if you look at real life, and the law of attraction, I think that people who are looking to be heard about a certain thing will just find themselves in the presence of somebody who has space, who’ll listen to that specific thing.

There are other people who I think are generally kind of conditioned to be discouraged about their feelings, or gaslit. And if that’s something that they are used to experiencing, then I think they’ll subconsciously attract people who will do that for them. But I think that Stella, she has a lot of space and a lot of grace because she’s been through a lot of s–t.

OCC: Speaking of going through a lot of stuff, this happens at the same time as Stella is finally going to take her lieutenant’s test. You’ve spent two seasons now with this arc of her trying to move her career forward. What has that been like for you to play this long?

MRM: It’s funny, I asked one of the executive producers early on, does she make lieutenant? He was like, do you want to know? And I kind of paused. It really made me stop and think. He was like why do you want to know? Like, let yourself go on the journey with her. So for me, it’s like we’ve been on this journey together. Like all right, girl, keep showing up, keep doing your best, and we’ll see what happens.

But I think for Stella it means a lot, because it represents everybody’s believing in her. Which I think that’s the thing that has kept her going on this track. I don’t know that she, anytime soon, would have gone on that journey herself. I think it really took somebody that she respected so deeply to pull her aside and say you have what it takes, I believe in you…I think that there’s a lot of pressure to not let everybody down.

And I think even for herself, it’s a big moment of validation. It’s an opportunity for her to come through for herself and to prove to herself like, holy s–t, I actually did it. I did the thing.

OCC: Many Chicago Fire fans have asked about the possibility of a Stellaride wedding this season. What are your thoughts on that? Would Stella be ready for that, or with everything going on with her professionally, would having another huge change in her personal life be almost too much?

MRM: I think Stella loves that man. And there’s a lot going on, but I don’t think that she sees it like that. I think that just personally, she’s not a person that wants to get married. She loves Kelly, but she just wants to be with him. I think it would give her pause. I don’t think it’s one of those things where it’s like if he proposed, she’s like yes, yes, a million times, yes. It’s a lot more complicated. I think that it actually will bring up a lot for her, given her past marriage [and] Kelly’s tendency to shut down. I think it would be terrifying for her.

OCC: This episode features one of your more bizarre rescue scenes, where Stella tries to help a guy impaled in a tree. Where does that rank in terms of the saves Chicago Fire has had you pull off over the years?

MRM: I’d say it maybe gets the top spot. (laughs) I just don’t know how he got up there. But our stunt coordinators, our art department, our special effects department, our production team, everybody who made that happen, is incredible—out of control incredible. I tip my hat to them. Because I had no idea, when reading it on the page, how they were going to create that and bring that together and they sure as hell did.

OCC: Stella is getting a reputation for crazy rescues.

MRM: I want to see more stuff between Kidd and [Blake] Gallo (Alberto Rosende). He can do all of these incredible and crazy things to get people safe, but he always gets in trouble because of it. But when Stella wants to climb a tree and hang on to a guy…she could have fallen out, she could have broken her neck easily, but she gets promoted. (laughs)

Next. Catch up with Chicago Fire in our latest recap. dark

For the latest Chicago Fire season 9 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Fire category at One Chicago Center.