Spotlight: Maryan Haye

Maryan Haye is a Somali-Canadian writer and actor from Toronto. She is a 4th-year student in the RTA Media Production program at Ryerson University, specializing in screenwriting. Along with acting in a few short films and media content, she devotes time to writing her own original scripts. She has just finished co-writing, directing, and acting her thesis project Visible (2020), a teen drama pilot, and is developing her own series REP, a coming of age story about the Somali community.

Name: Maryan Haye

Occupation/Role: Actor and Screenwriter

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

From as young as I could remember I wanted to be an actor! I always watched TV shows growing up and fantasized about being able to voice a cartoon character, and then later about being in a sci-fi or fantasy movie. In school, I was the first to sign up for any skits we did and would host events and do the announcements. But in the back of my mind, I knew that making acting a career was farfetched so I kept it for my daydreams as a kid. For that reason, from Kindergarten until 9th-grade I would tell people I wanted to be a teacher. I truly loved learning and wanted to pass on the knowledge and care I received from my teachers as a kid, which is why I was so set on it.

Who were your biggest role models growing up?

My mom was my biggest role model, just in her strength and ability to persevere no matter what. She and I are so different both in our life experiences and interests, but the fact that she has been through so much struggle and continues to get up every day makes me admire her. My 4th-grade teacher, Ms Khan, was my other role model. I wanted to be a teacher just like her and seeing a Muslim woman so strong and dedicated in her career made me so inspired.

What is one thing that you would like to tell your younger self?

To keep being you, and to not compromise yourself for anybody. You might be lonely, but it’s better to walk alone and do the things that you love instead of being miserable and trying to fit in.

What was a life-changing moment you experienced that shaped you into the woman that you are today?

When I entered university, I went through a bad period of depression. I was so lost and alone, and I genuinely had no friends or people to talk to. After a few months of wallowing in silence, I was able to seek some help, and also really turn towards my faith and push through it. Depression is a lifelong illness to battle, but I think knowing that I was able to get through that really isolating period made me value my life and strength. Since then I have been able to trust myself more and know that at the end of the day, I will be able to pick myself back up regardless of what people say.

What made you pursue your current career?

I was so tired of just being unhappy and constantly thinking “what if?”. I knew that being a young person, this was the best time to go after my dreams and that if it didn’t work out, at least I could say that I tried my best and that I put my all into it.

What is a typical day like for you?

It changes all the time, especially since I’m still in my last year of university! I usually wake up pretty early and help make my little sister’s lunch for school. Then I will go to class or go online and answer any emails I have and try and finish any work I need to. I just finished working on my thesis project, so the last couple of months have been devoted to that. Now I have been doing a lot of writing- I’m working on a couple of shorts I want to hopefully start filming in 2020 and have also been going to auditions. I also try and read and watch films while I can in order to keep myself up to date.

What has been the biggest obstacle in your professional life so far and how did you manage to overcome it?

I think my biggest obstacle so far has been networking! For the past few years, I have been frequently trying to go to media and art events to both view work and meet people. But up until recently, I have been super bad at networking; I deal with anxiety and will sometimes just retreat to a corner where it’s safe. Now I’m finally realizing that even if I’m speaking with people who are more established than me, at the end of the day we are all just humans. I’ve got to “shoot my shot” more and start making more connections because in the arts and entertainment industry, it really is all about who you know.

Which Somali woman inspires you and why?

Iman! She is absolutely regal and fierce. From a young age, seeing a Somali woman in the media known for her grace and beauty had me in awe. The fact that she is so intelligent and an incredible entrepreneur, with her own cosmetics line to boot is so amazing.

What advice would you give to a person pursuing your chosen career?

Make sure it is something you want to do. I am so, so new to this, and constantly doubting my abilities every day, but I know in my heart writing and acting make me happy. If you just want to be a movie star or write a film that will win an Oscar, you’re not doing it for the right reasons. I write and act as an outlet and want to tell stories that both resonate with and entertain people.

How would you like people to remember you?

I would want people to remember me as thoughtful. I truly care about the people I meet and empathize with their lives and situations. I feel like it’s so common to “not care” about people, but I’ve never been that kind of a person, every interaction I have I value. I would also love it if people remembered me as a storyteller, and for being able to create realistic, humanized characters and narratives.

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