Interview with Mouna Traoré | Be Authentic To Yourself

We are constantly invited “to be who we are,” but how do we know what that even means?! In this beautiful world where our cultural ideas and habits are influenced by our environment, sometimes we could get confused as we label ourselves by race, profession, beliefs, gender or sexuality. Questions such as “who am I?” arises within all of us at least time to time while we try to fit and yet stay authentic.
 
Actress, producer and writer Mouna Traoré says,”The strongest message I could send to my audience is to not take life, especially social media so seriously. To be authentic to yourself, and care less about how others perceive you. To stay true to yourself and not conform for likes or validation.” 

Perhaps, the most important validation has to come from ourselves to ourselves, and maybe then we can feel our way through to discover “who we truly are.”


Mouna Traoré | Photography Laura Lynn Petrick

Introduction

  • Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Mouna Traoré?

Mouna Traoré is an emerging actor, writer and producer, born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She’s made a name for herself on both the small and big screen and is currently appearing on the shows “In Contempt” and “Condor,” and awaiting the release of the film “Acquainted.”

Entertainment Industry

  • As a young actress, how do you see the entertainment industry now and how do you envision its future?

I feel like the industry is going through a renaissance. It’s changing with the times and conversations are finally happening that are going to shift power dynamics on both sides of the camera. There’s a lot of work that has to be done, but I see the future of the entertainment industry being much more inclusive and representative of the diverse communities around the world. I also envision the industry becoming a much safer space, especially for those who are those most vulnerable in our society.

  • Professionals in the entertainment industry use social media to interact with their audience. What would be your strongest message to them at this moment?

The strongest message I could send to my audience is to not take life, especially social media so seriously. To be authentic to yourself, and care less about how others perceive you. To stay true to yourself and not conform for likes or validation.

Mouna Traoré | Photography Laura Lynn Petrick

Acting

  • What have you learned about your city, Toronto, while filming CBC’s television drama series “Murdoch Mysteries,” where you portray Rebecca James?

After playing Rebecca James, and working on a show that takes place in the early 1900’s, I learned a lot about the history of Toronto, in particular, the black community in the city. It’s unfortunate to see how their presence and contribution to our city been ignored and even erased. I wish I had learned about it when I was younger, and I’m glad I was part of a program that exposed some of their history. I also learned about other historical figures, real events (like the Toronto fire which I had no clue about) and the history of sports like roller derby’s and soccer. Things I would NEVER know about if I weren’t on the show!

  • What do you resonate most with your role, Vanessa Hastings, you play on BET’s “In Contempt” television show?

I think it depends on what day you ask me! A lot of time I resonate the most with the way she doesn’t fit in. And with how badly she wants approval and validation from the people she looks up to.

  • What can you share with us about your experience filming “Condor,” Audience Network’s new conspiracy thriller series and Iris Loramer, the wife of a CIA officer?

Filming Condor was an incredibly liberating experience. I had so much freedom and there was such an open and loving environment on set. I really felt like I could make strong choices and explore the things I was curious about. Working with the show’s creators Jason Smilovic and Todd Katzberg was really affirming, and before I even started shooting, I felt a level of collaboration and integrity that was incredibly refreshing.

  • As an actress, you have roles that you might not necessarily like in real life. Do you think, this could be an opportunity to develop your empathy towards others?

I definitely think that my work offers the opportunity to develop empathy because it forces me to connect with a character and examine our shared experience. It’s very difficult to work from a place of judgment and give an authentic performance. To do the work I want to do I believe I have to be willing to have compassion and understanding for the human condition and the choices a people make.

  • What is the most surprising fact you have learned about yourself through a particular character?

The most surprising fact I’ve learned about myself through a character is how scared I am. Vanessa  Hastings is very anxious and desperate. She’s terrified of failing and doing the wrong thing and until I started shooting I didn’t realize that I feel like that most of the time.

Mouna Traoré | Photography Laura Lynn Petrick

Producing | Writing

  • What have inspired you and Elizabeth Melanson to open your own company, The Mini Films?

Honestly, not working was the first thing that inspired Elizabeth and I. We wanted to create a platform for young people like ourselves, who had lots to offer and limited opportunities with the film industry to showcase their work. We went to an art high school together and we knew so many people who are exceptionally talented but weren’t working and we wanted to change that.

  • Besides the opportunity of creative exposure, what is your intention behind producing and writing your own work through The Mini Films?

My main intention for producing my own work through The Mini Films is to not only create work that reflects my values and has a clear message but to alter perceptions of race, gender, sexuality, and society by taking control of my image. Representation and lack thereof is highly influential and I really want to be part o the movement shift the narrative of people of color in TV and film and offer more visibility to minorities and previously ignored communities.

  • Your second short film, “Adorn,” which won the award for Best Short Film at the Montreal International Black Film Festival, is a story about a woman and her love relationship. In that sense, what relationship is most important you could have with?

My relationship with myself is the most important. It sets the tone for my relationships with everyone else. I think love and romance are all good and dandy, but the only person in charge of my happiness and fulfillment is me. And I don’t want my experience on this planet to be dictated by whether or not I am romantically linked with someone.

  • What is the next project your desire to create with The Mini Films?

The next project I want to make with The Mini Films is actually under development! It’s an untitled feature film about sisterhood, secrets and mental illness.

Personal

  • How do you think you can contribute to the global well-being through your work as an actress?

I think that by being honest and truthful in my work on and off screen I can contribute to a sense of well-being in the world. So many people have bought into an idea that they are inadequate or inferior and I would love to be able to change peoples mind about themselves and the people they idolize. None of us are as perfect as we appear on Instagram and our lives are mired with suffering and tragedy. And it’s ok.

  • What does being genuine mean to you and how does this affect how people see you?

Being genuine means being authentic in how I express myself and living my truth. Being genuine means honoring my deepest desires and respecting my spirit. It definitely affects how people see me because my brand of genuine can be intense, offensive and “too much”.

  • We have read in one of your interviews that you admire and would love to meet Oprah Winfrey? If so, why?

There are so many reasons why I want to meet Oprah! But ultimately I want to meet her because she is one of the clearest representations of a fully actualized human being. What she has done with her time on the planet, what she has created for herself and others is astounding and I would love to bask in her glory. It would be such a privilege to be able to learn from her in person.

Mouna Traoré | Photography Laura Lynn Petrick

Good Soul

  • Is there any charity or humanitarian causes you would like to mention to our readers?

Right now, because of the show In Contempt, I’m really interested in organizations advocating for individuals who have been unfairly targeted by the criminal justice system. I feel that organizations like The Innocence Project, Color of Change, and Innocence Canada are doing really good work that I support, especially with people of color and in low-income communities.

Close Up

  • The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is “The Essence of a Joyful Living.” In your opinion, how does Joy during the process of creation affects your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?

When I experience joy during the process of creation, the end result and the final manifestation are irrelevant. For me, true joy is in a moment to moment experience, when I am completely detached from the result and I am fully immersed in whatever task I’m focused on. I often get sad when I finish a project, or come to the end of an experience, because the joy was all about the journey and not the destination.

  • Our mantra is “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words by Abraham Hicks. What is your take on such a statement?

I believe that we are co-creators in our lives and we have to be willing to take the first step to create the lives we want. I resonate with this statement because believing it got me to where I am today.


Mouna Traoré
Header Photo Courtesy Mouna Traoré