"Guys will just go out and do something. Females will talk about it, a lot. I don't care if I break a nail. You have to be aggressive to get the same respect as the guys." Mya
Starting out as a dancer, Mya transformed into a promising urban R&B vocalist in the late 1990s by releasing her self-titled debut album in the spring of 1998, when she was just 18 years old. She has charted such hits as "It's All About Me" (1998), "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)" (with Pras and Ol' Dirty Bastard; 1998), "Case of the Ex" (2000), the Grammy-winning version of "Lady Marmalade" (2001), "Fallen" (2003), and "My Love Is Like...Wo" (2003).
Mya branched out into acting and appeared in the films “Chicago” (2002), “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” (2004) and “Cursed” (2005), as well as provided her voice in the James Bond video game “Everything or Nothing” (2004). She will next be seen in the upcoming films "Love for Sale," "Bottleworld" and "Penthouse."
Mya, who won Palm Beach International Film Festival's Cross Over Award (from singer to actress) in 2006, was to have made her Broadway debut in May 2008 as Velma Kelly in “Chicago,” but broke her left foot and had to postpone her engagement with the show.
The 5' 6½ half Jamaican and half Italian also tried her hand in modeling. She posed for “Maxim” magazine in 2003 and was a model for “King” magazine. She also appeared in various print ads. She signed a seven-figure deal with Ford Models in 2005.
As a philanthropist, Mya was the spokesperson for Secret to Self Esteem from 1998 to 2001. In 2005, she founded TMATF: The Mya Arts & Tech Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing disadvantaged youth growth and opportunity through arts & technology. She is also an advocate for breast cancer.
Childhood and Family:
Born in Washington, District of Columbia, on October 10, 1979, Mya Marie Harrison, named after leading author, poet and civil rights campaigner Maya Angelou, grew up in Glenn Dale, Maryland. Her father, Sherman, is a Jamaican-American musician and singer who has performed in R&B bands, while her mother, Theresa, is an Italian-American accountant. The eldest and only daughter of the family, Mya has two younger brothers, Chad (born in 1982) and Nigel (born in 1990). Her parents divorced in 1998.
As a child, Mya enrolled in dance classes at age four. She also took violin and singing lessons. She attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School, in Greenbelt, Maryland, and graduated in 1996. She then went to the University of Maryland, in College Park, Maryland.
Mya, nicknamed Ms. Caramel, is a vegan. In her free time, she likes boxing, playing football and basketball.
"Boxing is my favorite sport. Football & basketball are my next fav's." Mya
It's All About Me
First taking dance classes at age four, Mya joined the group Tappers With Attitude at age 13. She studied tap under Savion Glover of Bring On Da Noise, Bring On Da Funk and has performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Smithsonian and the Shakespeare Theater. She also once tap danced on stage with famous tap-dancer Gregory Hines.
After graduating high school, Mya appeared as a panelist and a hip-hop dancer on BET's "Teen Summit" talk show and was signed by Interscope records at age 17. She then collaborated with such artists as Babyface, Wyclef Jean, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, and Sisqo on her debut album, "Mya." Released on April 21, 1998, Mya's self-titled album spawned the singles "It's All About Me" (featuring Sisqó), "Movin' On" (featuring Silkk The Shocker) and "My First Night with You." The album itself was certified double platinum with over 2.1 million copies sold in the U.S. and over 3.8 million copies sold worldwide. It won Mya the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist and Best R&B/Soul Album – Female.
Mya sang duet with Pras on the 1998 Grammy nominated hit "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)," which was featured on the soundtrack to the Warren Beatty film "Bulworth." She was also featured in Silkk The Shocker's "Somebody Like Me" and Beenie Man's "Girls Dem Sugar," as well as on BLACKstreet's "Take Me There" from The Rugrats Movie soundtrack, which also featured guest raps from Mase and Blinky Blink.
During this time, Mya tried her hand at acting and auditioned for the female lead role in the Usher-starring musical drama film “Light It Up” (1999), but she didn't win the part. However, that same year, she landed her feature film debut in the crime-drama film starring LL Cool J, Omar Epps and Nia Long, "In Too Deep" (1999).
Hitting the new millennium, Mya released her sophomore album, "Fear of Flying." Released on April 25, 2000, the album, which features more big-name producers than her debut, yielded the hits "Case Of The Ex," "Best Of Me," and "Free." "Case Of The Ex" peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 behind Destiny's Child's song "Independent Women Part 1," and reached number one on the ARIA Chart in Australia. It remains Mya's highest-charting solo single on the Hot 100 to date and went on to become the nation's best selling single. Due to the success of “Case Of The Ex,” on November 7, 2000, Interscope Records re-released “Fear of Flying” with two new tracks, "Again & Again" and "Free." The album, which won Mia a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album – Female, eventually went platinum in March 2001.
In 2001, Mya teamed up with L'il Kim, Pink and Christina Aguilera to record a new version of the Patti LaBelle hit "Lady Marmalade" for the Baz Luhrmann's Oscar-winning musical "Moulin Rouge!" soundtrack. The cover version produced by Missy Elliott and writing partner Rockwilder, became a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and a #1 hit in the United Kingdom and Australia. It scooped up numerous awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
The following year, as an actress, Mya played the supporting role of inmate Mona in Rob Marshall's Oscar-winning remake of the 1975 musical "Chicago" (2002). Alongside the film cast members that included Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and Taye Diggs, Mya won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble.
Mya subsequently returned to the recording studio and released her third album, "Moodring," on July 22, 2003. Produced by Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the album debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and sold more than 113,000 copies in its first week of release. The lead single, "My Love Is Like...Wo," became one of Mya's biggest hits, topping at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, and received two MTV Video Music Award nominations, one for Best Dance Video and one for Best Choreography in a Video. However, the album's second single, "Fallen," which was featured in the 2004 movie "A Cinderella Story," did poorly on the U.S. chart, only climbing to #51.
Meanwhile, Mya was featured in Detroit rapper Obie Trice's music video from his debut album "Cheers," "The Set Up," and in rapper The Game music video for the single "Dreams" (2005) from his debut album "The Documentary." She also branched out into modeling and posed for “Maxim” magazine in 2003. She was also a model for “King” magazine and has appeared in various print ads. She appeared in the TV Commercial for Coca Cola and in the 2003 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York City and signed a seven-figure deal with Ford Models in 2005.
As an actress, Mya continued to add to her resume small roles in Guy Ferland's musical and romance film "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" (2004) and Peter Chelsom's "Shall We Dance?" (2004; starring Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, and Susan Sarandon). She was also cast alongside Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson, Judy Greer, Michael Rosenbaum, and Milo Ventimiglia for the Wes Craven horror/thriller film, "Cursed" (2005), for which she was nominated for Best Frightened Performance at the MTV Movie Awards.
Mya left Interscope and joined Motown Records, with whom she recorded her fourth studio album, "Liberation." After numerous delays, the album, which was scheduled for an October 23, 2007, release in the United States, has been bumped from the schedule numerous times and is currently scheduled to be released as a double disc album on June 26, 2008. The album, originally conceived as a project called "Control Freak," was released in Japan on October 22, 2007, as a digital download only. It features the singles "Lock U Down" and "Ridin'."
Most recently, Mya could be seen in the Bill Duke-directed drama/thriller film "Cover" (2008), alongside Vivica A. Fox, Aunjanue Ellis, and Louis Gossett Jr. She is currently working on her upcoming film projects, "Love for Sale," a drama/comedy by Russ Parr, "Bottleworld," a comedy by Alexander Smith, and "Penthouse," a comedy/horror by Chris Levitus.
Mya is also a philanthropist and has been devoting her time and resources to various causes. She was the spokesperson for Secret to Self Esteem from 1998 to 2001 and founded TMATF: The Mya Arts & Tech Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing disadvantaged youth growth and opportunity through arts & technology education, in 2005.
Mya, whose mother is a 10-year breast cancer survivor, is also an advocate of the disease. During 2006-2007, she collaborated with the Lifetime Television Network in the Stop Breast Cancer for Life campaign by recording "My Bra," which 100% of its proceeds went to breast cancer research. She recently fought Global AIDS by joining the Heatherette’s Fashion Show for LifeBall in Vienna, Austria, hosted a fundraiser for Skool’d to aid homeless LGBT youth, and advocated gay rights by opening the Out 100 Awards.
"Take care of yourself and do something you love. If you can't take care of yourself, how can you help anyone else?" Mya
Palm Beach International Film Festival: Cross Over Award (from singer to actress), 2006
Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Acting Ensemble, "Chicago," 2003
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture, "Chicago," 2003
Grammy: Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, "Lady Marmalade," 2002
ALMA: Outstanding Song In A Motion Picture Soundtrack, "Lady Marmalade," 2002
ASCAP: Pop Music Awards, "Lady Marmalade," 2002
BMI: "Lady Marmalade," 2002
Channel Thailand Music Video: "Lady Marmalade," 2002
MTV Video Music: Best Video of the Year; Best Video from a Film, "Lady Marmalade," 2001
Billboard Video: "Lady Marmalade," 2001
VH1 Music: Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Just My Video; My Favorite Video, "Lady Marmalade," 2001
Radio Music: Song of the Year Top 40 Pop Radio, "Lady Marmalade," 2001
Teen Choice: Choice Song Of The Summer, "Lady Marmalade," 2001
TMF (Belgium and Netherlands): Best Video of the Year, "Lady Marmalade," 2001
Soul Train Music: Best R&B/Soul Album - Female, "Fear of Flying," 2000
Lady of Soul: Best Music Video, "Movin' On," 1999
Soul Train Music: Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist; Best R&B/Soul Album - Female, “Mya,” 1998