We are so pumped for you to get to know our #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY this week, the incredible Mao Kawakami. Originally from Japan, Mao is now a professional dancer currently residing in Los Angeles, California. Mao is a woman who has always accepted her differences as her strengths, and that’s what makes her so inspiring. Her untamable free spirit propelled her into the future of her dreams and her current reality. She is proof that when we learn to listen to our inner voices, we are able to see past social constructions that prevent us from living our lives authentically.

It’s no surprise that Mao has had the privilege to work with some of the music industry’s most esteemed artists. Mao has danced for Beyoncé, P!nk, N.E.R.D, Iggy Azalea, Rae Sremmurd, Zayn and is currently dancing for Ariana Grande on her Sweetener World Tour. Additionally, Mao can be seen o the TV series entitled The Four and as the new Bella on Pitch Perfect 3. We can’t wait to see what this fearless go-getter will do next!

Mao is a humble soul with an undeniable love for the world. It is so refreshing to see how she finds beauty in everything and everyone around her. She is a believer in community and recognizes that we are all the same at our core. Living with an open heart has connected her to her wildest dreams and she reminds us all that we are capable and deserving of everything we desire. Thank you Mao for being real, being honest and being the epitome of love!

Written by Alessia Rotino

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

You are living your life on tour right now with an iconic female in the music industry. Tell us what that’s like and how your experience has been on the road.

Overall, it has been amazing! We are half way into our long tour, and I feel like I am finally finding my own flow. I had a lot of ups and downs, just having a hard time finding my balance in the beginning with work and having time for the group and myself. But the breaks between helped me clarify how I want to spend the rest of the leg of this tour, so I am very excited for this European leg! Experiencing other cultures and meeting strangers are my favorite things on the road, when the world gets smaller and smaller as time passes by. It snaps me out of whatever bubbles I have in my head at the moment.

About Ariana… I cannot be more thankful to work with her. She’s the one that acts on right away whenever she finds a place for help. She believes in justice and that’s something I strongly stand for also. It is so inspiring that she utilizes her position to make a world a better place and I am grateful to witness that at first hand! She’s such a force yet sees that no humans are better than others. 

We admire how openly and freely you live your life! Tell us how you’ve learned to embrace your free spirit.

I feel like I can write a book about this! haha

Now when I look back, the start of it all was being super rebellious since birth growing up in Japan until the age of 15. Japan has its own way of being a certain way. I fit in none and I realized that at a very young age whether that was me thinking differently or people around me telling me that I was different. Good thing is I took that as a good thing instead of turning that into an insecurity. I was so rebellious that nobody could tell me anything. To a certain extent, it’s what I was born with, but part of that came from me wanting to be free from all the restrictions I was experiencing. 

To embrace my spirit, I try to listen to my gut and intuitions. This makes me find a way to just be without trying and puts me in a state of fearlessness! I also am very spontaneous & I love that part myself! I plan something and no plans will go as I plan. But that’s the fun part of it all just to go with the flow. As much as we all try to control our lives, all we can do is to accept and to surrender ourselves in the end. Ironically enough, that’s when shifts happen. I grew up being so stubborn that this was a hard lesson I had to learn. I would be so stubborn about the way I am that when it doesn’t work, I just crash on a wall. It is frustrating in the moment, but when I look back all the moments now, I just laugh at them! It still hits me in my face sometimes, and I just had to learn to catch it and surrender myself. Then the walls disappear all of a sudden. In the end, the most liberating thing for me is to say “fuck it!” & to just go for it. 

People will judge & tell you in so many ways when you are free spirit. But that’s their perceptions of the world & yours is different from everybody’s. In the end, nobody can tell you shit! Systems and society are there to keep us in control & being free spirit let’s you see clearly even through the filters. I honestly think I have a love and hate relationship with the free spirit because there are conflicts that come in this society that we live in. It also doesn’t mean that I am free spirit 24/7. Through living in this society, my vision gets clouded sometimes, too. But there’s nothing more joyful and liberating than being a free spirit. That’s the conclusion I always come to no matter what I go through. That comes with experiences and the world you see through no filters! As I type out all of this, I am reminding myself as well, so thank you for this opportunity for me to talk!

Why do you believe we should celebrate our ethic backgrounds and diversity? What impact has multiculturalism had on your life?

So that we all simply realize that we all are the same! No matter what background you come from, I’ve come to a conclusion that at the core, we all are the same beings. Everything around the core is all beautiful paintings of all cultures & experiences. Whether we realize it or not, there’s only one race and that’s the human race. Especially now on this tour, the casts are so diverse and have different backgrounds. Of course there are miscommunications and differences in values that they do cause conflicts outside or within ourselves. But there’s no experience like this either. Through living in this multicultural world, I have come to realize that ego is the only thing that separates us. Seeing through that & opening myself to other people’s eyes has lead me to experiences that I would never go through on my own.

What example do you hope to set for the future generation of girls?

I hope to inspire by just being myself and letting others know that NOBODY in this world is perfect. That sounds generic, but what I mean is a woman that loves all but doesn’t give a fuck about what others say. It’s so easy to jump to conclusions these days with the internet, so I can’t imagine what future generations have to go through to find their core and root in order for them to bloom. I personally had a hard time finding myself while spending my early adulthood life in Los Angeles (I moved to LA right after high school). I had to go through a lot of trials and errors to discover my core. I also think it is forever evolving, so life is all about the process and journey and the results are just the cherries on top. Can’t enjoy without whipped cream, chocolate sauce & ice cream on the bottom!

What’s your definition of a YGTGirl?

Someone who embraces all of her. Both good sides and the flaws. She is a force that’s honest with herself, looks at the positive side in the end and keeps going with curiosity. Forever a student of life. She is able to flow and accept everything that comes with life. & of course… A girl that can have fun!!