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V I VAC I O U S , O U T S P O K E N , B O L D A N D R E L ATA B L E A R E J U S T A F E W WO R D S T O D E S C R I B E J E A N N I E M A I , A V I E T NA M E S E - A M E R I CA N T E L E V I S I O N P E R S O NA L I T Y, S T Y L E E X P E RT, A N D A N E X E C U T I V E P RO D U C E R A N D E M M Y- AWA R D W I N N I NG C O - H O S T O F “ T H E R E A L . ” M A I ’ S U N I Q U E Z E S T FO R L I F E I S C O N TAG I O U S A N D O N E O F T H E M A N Y C O M P O N E N T S T H AT H AV E H E R S TA N D O U T, E V E N I N A RO O M F U L L O F P E O P L E W H O S E J O B I S T O D O J U S T T H AT. T H RO U G H O U T T H E Y E A R S , A S S H E C L I M B E D T H E P RO F E S S I O NA L R A N K S O F T H E E N T E RTA I N M E N T I N D U S T RY — S TA RT I NG O F F A S A M A K E U P A RT I S T AT M AC C O S M E T I C S — M A I ’ S P U R P O S E H A S A LWAYS R E M A I N E D T H E SA M E : T O I N S P I R E A N D E NC O U R AG E WO M E N T O OW N T H E I R T RU T H S A N D K NOW T H E I R WO RT H .

“Own you before they do,” the San Jose native frequently says to her fans, whom she calls ‘Mai fam.’ “Own whatever it is that you don’t like about yourself before someone thinks they own it for you…then they think they have the right to shame you, to embarrass you, to hold it over your head or remind you about it.” Mai doesn’t let anyone have that kind of power over her. What she once saw as insecurities are now her greatest assets. “When you just own that about yourself, not only does it become a unique trait of yours, but you [also] might realize that it’s one of your powers,” shares Mai. Her story and success are written on her terms—and by her terms only. But like all powerful people who go down in history, this wasn’t always the case. Learning to own (and speak) her truth was no easy task. This past May, the 40-year-old opened up about a traumatic childhood experience in her recently launched YouTube series “Hello Hunnay”—a web series where Mai candidly shares her thought process and opinions on life, fashion, family, social issues, beauty, dating and much more. In this vulnerable episode, she revealed why she had a major falling out with her mother, Olivia TuTram Mai, who is widely known as ‘Mama Mai.’

Mai was sexually abused by a close family member when she was nine and it went on for four years. At the time, when she tried to confide in her mother about the abuse, Mama Mai didn’t believe her. Hurt and betrayed, she left home at the age of 16 and didn’t speak to her mother for eight years. The unfiltered episode documented the first time the mother-daughter duo addressed the heart-rending incident. Mai hopes that by sharing the rawness of her story, it will help others in similar situations find the strength to speak up and heal from the inside. Your story is your power. Using the years of hard lessons and heartbreaking experiences as a tool to help others, Mai was awarded the 2019 Pioneer Woman of the Year at Los Angeles City Hall for her fight against sex trafficking. She also serves as a board member for several nonprofit organizations, to name a few, Dress for Success and Same Sky. Through her platform, the star hopes to empower women everywhere to find their voice and own their truth. Despite the grievances of their past, Mai and her mother have mended their relationship. The celebrity credits her mother for her success and ebullient personality. “Although everyone enjoys Mama Mai, she’s not for everybody,” Mai says. “The way she mothered me, I took that and created my personality…the way I handle things now is because of the way she raised me.”

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Profile for Locale Magazine

Los Angeles August 2019  

Alive Edition

Los Angeles August 2019  

Alive Edition