Most people see their career as an endgame. Viewed as a primary yardstick for success, some view their career as a long-term investment that secures financial stability and a certain kind of purpose.
But what most people fail to see is that it is possible to transcend more than that role and go beyond performance and circumstances. You can always shift, drift, and explore the many other possibilities that you can think of—to maximize potential, take risks, and become more.
Here, American actress, screenwriter, and fashion model Meiling Melançon sheds light on what it feels like to go beyond one’s limitations and pursue the things that truly bring you happiness—amplifying the adage that goes: fortune favors the bold.
Follow Your Bliss
Born into a family of professionals, Mei initially wanted to take up law. At that time, there weren’t very many Asians in Dallas. Someone saw her photo and sent it to a Dallas modeling agency. Like a perfectly woven story, she was scouted as a talent and began her modeling journey.
From modeling, she ventured into doing commercials—and did more than 70! Such exposure led her to act in both films and TV series. “There’s a term for that: follow your bliss. I think a lot of stuff that we decide to do has to do with how much fear we have, whether or not we can accomplish something, or if we’re going to disappoint someone.”
Mei’s first acting job began with a very simple introduction: “Do you want to read for this?” While she has never acted before, instead of saying no, the only thing she uttered was, “Sure, let me try.”
“I think a lot of that has to do with being afraid and doing it anyway. I don’t think it’s been so much as I’ve done this, but I need to try this.”
This way of thinking remained true in all of her endeavors, particularly with writing. Even in school, Mei has always been articulate with words. In fact, she has helped many of her friends write their papers. Compared to acting and modeling, it is something that she naturally picked up. She loved writing so much that she usually brings her computer and practiced writing short films and other sorts of things while waiting for her shot. “I’d be Googling, looking at a lot of the greats. I’d go to WGA and pull scripts out and just study, study, study to try to understand, like, how can I tell this story? I’d love to be this great!”
By being more open to opportunities—grabbing every exposure and learning experience available, like writing for client projects, selling her projects, and now working on her very own animation series—somehow everything that Mei went through came to fruition.
What Happens When with People Who Believe in You
Juggling the many hats she has to wear is obviously not as easy as it sounds. While multitasking has become a much-needed skill to survive the demands of society, we also know the many drawbacks of this: poor performance, inefficiency, and mediocrity in the quality of work, not to mention the stress and anxiety felt thereafter.
To be able to give her best shot, Mei always takes things one at a time so that she can maintain her focus. “If you’re doing something, you have to give it 100%. When there’s an acting job, I have to give it 100%.” With her experience in the industry, Mei has also developed the ability to shift tasks completely one day at a time. “I would wake up and be doing something different every day. So, one day, I’d be shooting print, and then the next day, I’d be doing film, and I think that’s where you just learn to be professional and give your all in every setting.”
At times, she also keeps a schedule and designates a week for writing or doing something else, like working on Fallen 8. But what really helps Mei push for this kind of work style are the people she’s working with. “When you are working with people that believe in you, you can have the confidence to [do] what you want, like, ‘Yes! I’m going to do this kind of thing.” This kind of excitement motivates Mei to get to her next steps and accomplish the things that she has and wants to do.
How to Deal with Discouragement the Mei Melançon Way
We all go through different kinds of hurdles in life. But instead of getting all discouraged by rejections and negativities, Mei looks at this phase as a pause. “There are times in your life when you’ll have a lull. It doesn’t mean everything’s done. But I think when we have lulls and nothing is happening, it’s normal to react, like panic. But thankfully, you know, I always had writing. I was like, ‘Oh, good, there’s a lull!’ [that means] I can write.”
Like many, Mei has also questioned whether she has studied hard enough as an actor, done everything she could as a writer, and given everything she can. While she received three offers for the Fallen 8 project, there was also a sort of inquiry as to why she wanted to make an anime out of it when it could have been a game, a live-action film, and the like. “This project has been going on for maybe five years already? You know, if you just take time out of the equation, things come back around in our lives. I truly believe that if you just keep moving forward, the right people will appear and the right situation will appear to make your dreams come true.”
Behind the Creative Process: The Motivation and Inspiration
Growing up in Japan with a Chinese father, Mei has always been fascinated by the idea of myth, not only because her parents have a deep sense of spirituality but also because she is curious about the lessons learned from all these stories passed on through generations. “I was looking up a lot of Greek mythology, and my father was like, ‘Why don’t you go to Chinese or Japanese mythology? There’s so much there.’ And the Eight Immortals was something that I used to read a lot at that time.”
The fantasy animation series Mei developed together with KC Global Media is a contemporary adaptation of the mystical Asian classic story of the Eight Immortals, who were tested of their worth through relatable human experiences of the present. The talented screenwriter wanted to unmask these characters, allowing people to see what makes them great, their flaws, and why people remember and revere them. “It’s like a constant cycle. We, as humans, learn a lot from what happened before, and we don’t want to forget our ancestors. We don’t want to let go of what they have to teach us no matter how advanced we become. Sprinkle in a lot of fun, action, and mystery, and that is why I want to work on it.”
While there are wonderful stories developed by the West that inspire and move people, Mei believes that Fallen 8 can make these lessons even more insightful for Asians. “If you look at the X-men series, it’s about people that haven’t found their place. I think in this way, this is written off. Our goal is to create a project where we can slowly do that for an Asian myth and make it profound. I hope we can get there someday. That’s the goal.”
Achieve Your Goals in Silence
Mei admits to admiring those people who can deliberately present their lives to the public. As a very private person who has already started a family, she tends to be very selective about what she shares. As a writer herself, she finds meaning in achieving her goals in silence. “I enjoy looking at people’s content and seeing what they’ve been up to. I really enjoy it. But I’m not as glamorous. There have been times when I ask if I’m disappearing, but I always keep in mind that what I’m working on is going to come to fruition in the next couple of years, which is quite exciting.”
In this age when most people find validation through social media, Mei takes comfort in the fact that instead of posting everything about her life, she prefers for people to focus on the right parts of her—that if she’s posting way too much, it’s no longer true to who she is. Also, as someone who works on several projects—five as of this moment—the time spent on creating content, like 10 to 15 minutes, is quite much for her.
Mei aspires to be the next Michelle Yeoh, who has dramatically helped change the landscape of the entertainment industry. She loves the way the multi-awarded Malaysian actress speaks her truth. “She is a formidable person. You respect her, and she has remained classy but is capable of speaking her mind, which is something that is very difficult.” Like Sessue Hayakawa, Reese Witherspoon, and Drew Barrymore, Mei would like to create lasting content that will inspire generations to make mindful decisions and follow what truly makes them alive.
“I have so many goals right now. I have five projects that I’m working on, and they’re in different stages of development. Some of them have their funding. Some of them are on hold. But my goal is to be able to act throughout my whole life until I’m 150. And I like to keep writing. I would really be happy if I can write and produce projects that can elevate other Asian talents in ways that haven’t been seen before.”