Meet PASSIONS's Kyrie Maezumi (Maya)

Soap Opera Digest: How do you pronounce your name?

Kyrie Maezumi: Kie-ree My-uh-zoo-me. It’s an old samurai name. Kyrie and Mimi are my two nicknames. My family calls me Mimi and my friends call me Kyrie. Digest: Where did you grow up?
Maezumi: I grew up in a monastery [her father started a Zen center and her mother studied world religions] from when I was born to when I was 9. Then in Idyllwild, California, which is a really small mountain community; very bohemian.

Digest: What type of school did you go to?

Maezumi: I went to two high schools. I went to one at the bottom of the mountain. We had to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to catch a bus down to go to school. It took an hour. It was so crazy when it was snowy and you’re waiting for the bus. Sometimes it didn’t even come. Then I went to the Arts Academy there. It was really good. I studied visual arts and dance. Digest: When did you know you wanted to act?

Maezumi: I waited on my manager at a restaurant I worked at a few years ago. She’s amazing; she never gave up on me. She was like, “I think you can make it as an actress.” I was always a visual artist, and I’m a musician. I’ve played instruments my whole life and that’s what I was in L.A. doing — art and music. Then I went to Jeremiah Comey’s film acting classes and I was auditioning. I booked this a few months ago. It’s been amazing. I couldn’t even believe that I booked this.Digest: So you met your agent, then started taking acting classes?
Maezumi: Yeah. I was here doing music and playing in a band. Digest: You have two bands, right?
Maezumi: One is called Cheza. That’s indie rock. It’s really cool. We’ve played at The Viper Room. My solo project is called Peep in the Shivers and it’s more jazzy, intimate, kind of singer/songwriter stuff, but we use a laptop with some loops. It’s more experimental. The last place we played was Lava Lounge. I don’t have any gigs lined up right now. I have a studio set up in my house, so I’m recording and writing some new things.Digest: When PASSIONS was looking to cast the role of Maya, they wanted someone exotic. Do you think you’re exotic?
Maezumi: That seems to be what I audition for and I’m typecast. My dad’s Japanese, and my mom is Russian and British, so she’s tall, blonde and has green eyes. My brother, sister and me look like three peas in a pod, but we don’t look like either one of our parents. I’ve auditioned for French, Native American, Brazilian, Italian and the Asian martial arts stuff. You can go all the different ways, you just have to have your accents down. Digest: What do you think of Maya?
Maezumi: Obviously, Maya is a troublemaker and a nemesis, but she doesn’t seem to be a bad person and I’m not playing her as a bad person. She really loves Noah, but she’s really tangled up with these people. I’m trying to play her as pretty nice.Digest: Have you made up a backstory for her?
Maezumi: I try. Her mom is Chinese, so I don’t even know how to relate to that. I’m just playing up the exotic part. I haven’t had a TV in 10 years, so I’m not familiar with the story. I got debriefed by the people here. I know the family trees. Digest: Well, she’s going to be involved in the “Vendetta” story in faux Rome.

Maezumi: I actually was in Rome before I got the callback for this. I bought my ticket to Europe to visit my brother, who is in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu [the famous cooking school], and my sister was studying in Rome; she’s an archeology major. So I bought my ticket to visit them for six weeks, then I auditioned for PASSIONS like three days before I left and was like, “Well, if I do get a callback, I’ll fly back for it.” I was in the south of Spain after being in Italy and I checked my e-mail and got a callback. So I got in six hours before my callback. Digest: How did you feel about coming on to be the third party with Noah and Fancy?
Maezumi: It would feel awkward except everyone’s so nice about it. We all laugh in between takes. When Emily [Harper, Fancy] and I have to be catty to each other, we laugh. She gives me hugs and is like, “This is crazy. I love you.”Digest: What other actors would you like to work with?
Maezumi: I would love to work with Heidi [Mueller, Kay], Eva [Tamargo, Pilar] and Lindsay [Hartley, Theresa]. Well, everybody! There’s not one person that I’ve met who isn’t nice. Digest: Have you been recognized yet?
Maezumi: No. I look completely different than the way I look here. I don’t curl my hair and I don’t wear makeup. It would be so weird to be recognized.Digest: Have you received any fan mail yet?
Maezumi: Yeah. It’s always from the most random places. I got one from Tennessee and Minnesota, and I got one from my grandma [laughs].

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