By Jason A. Heidemann
Singer, dancer, actress, and model Mya is putting the active back in activist. In addition to a multi-platinum recording career, a Grammy, multiple film roles, and an upcoming Broadway debut in Chicago, she is also passionate about breast-cancer awareness, is the founder of the Mya Arts and Technology Foundation for Washington, D.C., metro area youth, and can now add animal advocate to her varied resume. This month she joins New York-based North Shore Animal League (NSAL) and Purina for Tour for Life, a four-week multi-city adoption drive kicking off April 2 and concluding April 26 at a star-studded adoption event in New York City. She had a lot to say about our four-legged friends.
Is this your first time being actively involved in something animal related?
This is the first time, and I’m very excited about it, especially with such an organization like North Shore. I recently met in New York City with [NSAL’s] Beth Ostrosky at one of the fundraising events that it was holding. I spoke to her for a while and realized we shared a common passion for animals. I have three dogs myself. When I found out about its efforts and how long it has been in existence, I was so struck by all the lives that I could possibly save and the message that I could spread. I’m a pet lover … and I thought it would be a wonderful thing to be a part of an effort to save as many lives as possible.
You have three dogs!
Pepper is a mutt, and she’s mixed with Rottweiler. Bear and Rambo are the other two, and they’re both Rottweilers. Rambo is 8 years old. She’s a girl, and Bear is 6 months old.
Rottweilers sometimes get a bad reputation, but you’ve obviously found them to be loving companions.
Oh yeah. It’s all in how a dog is raised, just like people. It’s all about their upbringing.
Do your dogs ever go with you on the road?
I raised Rambo on the road! She’s truly a companion, and it was so fun, and [she] brought a lot of balance to my life and was my best friend and still is. Bear, being the new addition to the family, we’re figuring out what he does and doesn’t like. He’s still young. We have to take him on rides every day. He gets carsick, so he doesn’t travel as much.
Do you find that you’re out there alone in advocating for animals or that other performers are doing the same thing?
I don’t feel alone, but I do feel that we as a community and we as celebrities or we as just pet lovers can do a lot more to get awareness out about responsible breeding, adoption, and all the wonderful things that organizations such as North Shore are doing that people may not be aware of. That’s why I’m adamant about being involved in this.
You’re involved in a lot of charitable causes, including breast-cancer awareness. How did you get involved in that?
Anything that I’m a part of I’m already involved in naturally in my daily life. My mom is an 11-year breast cancer survivor. It’s a cause that’s very special to me, and if I can help out in any way in promoting awareness and promoting prevention, I’m going to do that.
You have a new album coming out soon, right? Is there anything about it you’d like to share?
It’s quite a bulk of work. Let’s just say that. I’m not going to confirm anything at this point, but I’m very excited about it.
You had a supporting role in the film Chicago and are getting ready to play Velma Kelly in the Broadway version. Are you excited about this?
I love the film Chicago; I love the play. I don’t want to say it’s going to be a breeze. It’s definitely going to be a lot of work, but live performance is my home.
Aren’t you running yourself ragged with all that you do?
Anything you love to do becomes easy. Yes, the hours are tough, and traveling is wear and tear on your body, but it’s all worth it. The passion and the adrenaline drive you. If you’re not happy doing something, it’s easy to get tired! This is more of a rush and fun.
Musicals and music biopics have made such a big comeback in Hollywood. Are there any people who have influenced you whom you’d love to portray in the film version of their life?
Wow. There are so many people who have influenced me. I doubt that I could play the part of Prince because I’m not a man (laughs). As far as females go, Josephine Baker. Her early life story is very intriguing to me. I’d definitely like to turn that into a screenplay one day.
Between Hurricane Katrina, the Menu Foods recall, and the Michael Vick incident, pets have really become headline news. Does that give you hope for the future of animal welfare?
It’s pretty sad that some of the events that you mentioned brought a lot of death and misery for animals. But this also brought large-scale media attention domestically and internationally. I do have a lot of hope, and that’s why I’m involved with North Shore Animal League.