Last week, we brought you our Fall 2014 feature on the beautiful and successful Jeannie Mai who is currently a host on The Real. But clearly, that wasn’t enough. You asked for it, so here it is! Check out Jeannie Mai discussing everything from gay marriage to Asians going blond.
“I’m a faith-driven woman, so I love that the Bible encourages one not to get divorced. But I’m a very liberal woman, too, and for me the decision has to be the best choice for both parties, especially if children are involved. It’s not a black and white situation; it’s gray all the way. You have to decide what’s best for both parties and the children as well.”
On plastic surgery, especially in Asia:
“Do you. And if you are gonna ‘do you,’ do it in Thailand because it’s cheaper and they’re awesome!”
On gay marriage:
“I have three words that will save the economy. Gay Bridal Registry.”
On Asians going blond:
“I would say do it right and not to be white, number one. Number two, learn about the importance of toner. Period. Toner is your best friend if you’re gonna go blond.”
On going too far with makeup:
“Put it this way — when you’re not feeling like you can overcome the biggest challenge you face, you haven’t gone far enough.”
“Personally, I’m not a user myself. But if any addiction, whether it’s coffee, shopping or drugs, keeps you from reaching your potential in life, I don’t see a good reason to continue it.”
On 3D printers that print makeup:
“My heels are clicking for joy. We women get stuck in ruts and forget that style and makeup are excuses to transform into any unique version of ourselves. The more advanced this industry becomes, the more opportunities for women to strut forward with themselves.”
On illegal immigration:
“If the U.S. Navy didn’t help bring my parents here from Vietnam, I probably wouldn’t be in this fortunate place of being interviewed. I am thankful for the immigration opportunities, but I understand that in order to preserve the value of the U.S. and respect the needs of residents, we have to abide by regulations. I’m trying to learn more about this to understand the options, and pray for a solution that can unite nations and provide positive growth for the United States.”
On whitening skincare:
“I get that different cultures appreciate different appearances. I don’t see Americans getting judged for tanning their skin, and I don’t judge people who prefer to stay fair-skinned. At the end of the day, it depends on the individual’s perspective of herself.”
On the worst fashion trend:
“Too much boob. It’s never been hot. It’s always trashy. Keep it sexy, ladies. That’s all.”
–Story by Jeline Abutin. This was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here.
You can tell right off the bat that Jeannie Mai is one confident woman. Though on the phone in a restroom, her voice sounds strong and opinionated. It is that same voice that has guided countless women and celebrities with their style, first as a makeup artist for M.A.C and then as a host on a variety of shows for E! and the Style Network. But beyond the voice, it’s her story — the real Jeannie Mai — that captivates this interviewer.
Born to Vietnamese and Chinese parents and raised in the Bay Area, Mai is more than proud of her NorCal roots. “The Bay Area is so vast when it comes to culture, race diversity and community,” says Mai. “The things I remember from growing up were amazing neighborhoods of different foods, the ‘hyphy’ movement of hip-hop, freestyle artists and rappers, the baddest breakdance scene ever, a digital takeover from Silicon Valley, and the most beautiful landscapes from Tahoe to Napa. I was rich without a paycheck.”
After graduating from Milpitas High School in 1997, Mai was off to work immediately, hungry for experience. “I just kind of started my career right after high school,” says Mai. “I couldn’t be held between walls, and I wanted to travel the world and be with influential people so that I could spread the message of style and personal image.”
She started her career with M.A.C Cosmetics as a trainer for three years. It was there that she found her way into celebrity styling for the likes of Alicia Keys. “I caught the eyes of a couple celebrities who started to pick me up as their makeup artist first,” says Mai. “I started traveling with these artists, and it turned out that these artists didn’t have a stylist. I found myself getting them ready face to toe!”
It was only a matter of time before Mai’s driven personality landed her in front of the camera. In addition to co-hosting the Emmy-nominated Asian American magazine-style show Stir, Mai has hosted shows like How Do I Look and Style Pop on the Style Network and various fashion segments on E!. But Mai’s newest gig has her taking a slightly different turn, as one of the co-hosts of the nationally syndicated daytime talk show The Real.
“I’m not talking about fashion or other women’s makeovers,” says Mai. “I’m getting to talk about what I’m going through.”
The Real, which airs on FOX and BET, aims to be just that — a talk show where real women share their experiences and what they’re thinking. But how is that different from other women-oriented talk shows like The View?
“There are five things that differentiate us from other shows: Loni Love, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Tamar Braxton, Adrienne Bailon and Jeannie Mai,” says Mai, speaking of the show’s hosts. “Each of those five reasons alone is every reason to watch our show. We don’t compare ourselves to other people, and I don’t recommend other women compare themselves to other people. Focus on you, focus on the finish line, and go there. That’s how our show is. We focus on ourselves and what we can bring to the show, and that includes our real lives and our real setbacks and insecurities.”
For Mai, being a married, successful career woman brings its own set of problems. “I bring the perspective of being a woman doing great in her career in her mid-30s, married for six years and realizing that I have to make one of the biggest decisions right now about my future when it come to being a mom,” she says. “It’s the weirdest thing that I have this clock remind me every single day that I need to make a decision; it’s so unfair. To put pressure on top of that, if I ever were to say today that I don’t think I want to have children, why do I get weirdest feeling that I’d be getting judged for that?”
As for making sure her voice gets heard, Mai has to walk a fine line between listening and talking. “I’m not one to have to say a lot. For me, I want to hear where all the girls come from before I stick my neck out.” But once she does, she says, “I speak the hell up.”
The Real returns on Monday, September 15 on FOX and in national syndication (check your local listings), with a rebroadcast in prime time on cable network BET.
Want more Jeannie Mai? Keep updated with Audrey Magazine opinions on everything from plastic surgery, gay marriage and even the worst fashion trend. Coming Soon!
Audrey Magazine is an award-winning national publication that covers the Asian experience from the perspective of Asian American women. Audrey covers the latest talent and trends in entertainment, fashion, beauty and lifestyle.