How the LA-based creative follows her passion and spreads her light in the process.
– KEYS SOULCARE
To say Mel Mah wears a lot of hats is arguably an understatement. After starting her career as a dancer — she even toured with Janet Jackson — the Toronto-born, Los Angeles-based creative set her sights on Tinseltown. Right now, she’s working on a feature film that chronicles George Foreman’s dynamic career, one that’s not dissimilar from her very own. And, when she’s not doing that? She’s teaching mindful movement sessions on Calm and building her coaching company, You Got This Girl. (Got all of that? Good.) As if we needed another reason to give Mel lightworker status, she’s determined to “spread light” in everything she does. We recently sat down with Mel to chat about following your passions, finding joy in the everyday, and, yes, shining at full wattage.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently in New Orleans working on a film called Heart of a Lion, which is a Sony feature starring Forest Whitaker. It’s about George Foreman’s life as a boxer and what many people don’t know [about him], which is that he left boxing to become a preacher. But, as he embarked on his spiritual journey, he got a vision from God telling him that he needed to return to boxing; he is the oldest person ever to reclaim the Heavyweight Champion title. As far as filmmaking may seem from mindfulness, there’s always a spiritual element that follows me and my work wherever I go.
You were a professional dancer — what first drew you to movement and how did that path unfold?
Growing up in an Asian family, I wasn’t often pushed to express my emotions, which I think is quite common in immigrant families. You don’t have time to talk when there’s work to be done. Dance was always something that drew me in because it was so expressive and I felt like I could really be myself on stage. When I was young, dance was where I felt most at home. My mom actually put me in ballet because I was such a tomboy and she wanted me to have better posture, but I ended up wanting to make a career out of it. At the beginning, I wasn’t particularly good at dancing. I didn’t have perfect technique and wasn’t naturally flexible, but I was lucky enough to have teachers who saw how passionate I was. And the technique caught up eventually, which is what allowed me to pursue it as a career. Eventually, I made it to sixth place as a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance. That allowed me to get my visa to move to LA and go on to tour as a dancer with Janet Jackson.
Passion has been such a through-line for you — what advice do you have for those still trying to unearth their spark?
The first thing that intuitively comes up is being playful. It’s important to experiment and give ourselves permission to play and lean into our child-like curiosity. When we allow ourselves to not know the answers, we’re more likely to uncover what we’re passionate about and that can slowly build over time. A message that I’m constantly giving to the women I coach is to be messy and allow ourselves to make mistakes and bypass the perfectionist narrative.
Can you tell us more about your work with You Got This Girl?
We aim to teach women how to use mindfulness as a means towards living their most fulfilling lives — as a way to manifest abundance; as a way to go after their dreams and their goals; or whatever they may be. In the six years since we launched, we’ve shifted our focus towards uncovering more joy and happiness in everyday life. Many of the women I work with aren’t even chasing career goals. Instead, it can be about entering a new decade with confidence and we get there through the lens of mindfulness, yoga, and meditation.
What gives you hope despite all that’s been thrown your way?
Whenever I teach, I feel inspired. Back in the day, I used to teach a lot of dance workshops — and seeing the younger generation and how bright they are always made me feel hopeful about the future. [It happens] when I’m coaching someone and hear them say something that represents a significant shift. When I’m in nature. When I find the extraordinary in the ordinary. My best advice to anyone and everyone is to find the little joys in life. For me, it can be as simple as stepping outside and feeling the sun on my face.
How do you find joy in the everyday? Sound off below.