Maya Jackson

Maya Jackson is Hooked on Acting

Master of Fine Arts in Acting | Department of Theatre | College of Arts and Sciences
Graduation Year: 2016

Where is UMKC taking you?

UMKC is taking me to a career in theater and is teaching me to be a better actor – no, a great actor. My love for acting goes back to when I was only a child. (She is from Gaithersburg, Maryland). I was always the center of attention and a bit of a ham. Then in middle school I was in a production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” I didn’t even have a starring role; I was one of the Woodstock groupies. But I was hooked.

Why did you choose UMKC?

I already had an undergraduate degree in theater and one in French, and I was managing a dance studio. But I had hit a plateau. I felt like there were a lot of things within my grasp, but I wasn’t quite sure how to grab them. I thought graduate school could help. I found UMKC through a University/Resident Theatre Association event in New York. Students interview and audition for a number of graduate positions at the same time.

I underestimated how hard it would be to pick up school again after five years. You lose that discipline. No more all-nighters for me; that is not in my wheelhouse.

Tell us a little about your owl mask.

This is part of UMKC’s “The Epic Project.” You’ve probably heard the quote “Give a man a mask and he will show his true face.” A mask maker and puppeteer came for a one-week residency. One day he brought in all kinds of raw materials – recyclables, twine, burlap, bike tires – all sorts of stuff so we could make our own. I was kind of obsessive about it!

What are your life goals?

I want to teach, because you learn so much from students. And this may sound silly, but I want to build something, either a school or a company – something that is tangible and will make a difference in the community. I’m looking for the gumption and self-motivation to make that happen.

Do you still get performance anxiety?

Yes, but it’s different now. It’s not just stage fright and fear of literally being on the stage. It’s more like what Adam and Eve experienced – realizing that you are naked. It’s self-awareness – realizing that you know so many tools but being very conscious of whether you know how to use them. You have to do the work, do the preparation and then send your performance out there like a Frisbee. You have to trust yourself.

What motto do you live by?

“Education is knowledge and knowledge is power.” My dad used to tell me that every morning when he dropped me off at school. He could be in the Guinness Book of World Records for best dad.