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  • Beth Delany

Q&A with: Heather McMahan

Updated: Jul 25, 2019

From up-and-coming to hot and happening. Doing the most and the least — at the same damn time. That’s Heather McMahan and she’s making waves on Instagram with her hilarious and bona fide approach to the social media outlet regularly riddled with makeshift models and their photoshopped thigh gaps.

McMahan’s signature bit? Navigating life and digitally journaling Hollywood career hurdles, a treacherous move to New York from Atlanta and the all-too-familiar intimate relationship with her mom.

Keeping in mind the theory that comedians' greatest work is often rooted in tragedy, it's no wonder why McMahan has soared to success since the sudden passing of her father. The loss motivated much of her online authenticity as she charmingly referenced the "dead dad club" on Father's Day from the basement of her mom's Atlanta home. If you don't know Heather's fiery, red-headed mom Robin, she's nearly as integral as Heather is on Instagram. Because as many daughters of mothers with good intentions know, you don't realize how broad your shoulders or how thin your ankles are until Mom points it out... in the most lovingly-ish ways of course.

I could go on about Heather's exploding fame. She launched a podcast series with Dear Media called “Absolutely Not” just two weeks before announcing her first stand-up comedy tour titled “The Farewell Tour” — make sure you see it before it might never come back, she jokes. Although I doubt the very humble so-long epithet will come true considering McMahan's loyal followers nearly broke the internet moments after the anticipated show’s ticket sales went live.

And while some may argue that comedians’ shticks can be dictated by darkness, Heather is all light. And sharing that light with followers is more infectious and more forceful than anyone realizes, including Heather herself.

I’m sharing just a ray of that bright light right here.

Do define yourself as a comedian, actress or influencer? Comedian before anything. It’s so interesting when people reference me as an influencer. I really just hope I’m influencing the general public to do good, not evil. I’m not an influencer. That is one thing I don’t want to be called. I’m a comedian; I’m an actress. Comedy is just what really brings me joy. I’ve always been a funny kid. When I’m honest and I talk about brands, I guess I’m influencing. But I’m just really honest about what I like to spend my money on.

You're helping women every day feel confident in their skin. How does that relationship with followers affect you? You really have to learn how to love yourself. At the end of the day, you’re all you got. I’m truly just one of those people who laughs at my own jokes. I’m easily entertained by myself. I’m in a business where I get told ‘No’ a thousand times a day. I finally quit worrying about what everyone else thought and when I started creating my own content [I said], ‘If it makes me laugh, I know it’s going to make one of my friends laugh. It’s going to touch a bigger audience.’ It’s believing in yourself. You’re the only person who can really tell you 'No' and that’s if you don’t believe in yourself.

How has humility advanced your career? Every day I’m humbled. In this business, everybody is insecure. That’s what I’ve realized. It doesn’t matter how powerful or how famous you are, we're all just trying to get by. The moment you think you’re better than somebody else, God will strike you down and humble you so quick. A month ago I was getting in an Uber in L.A. coming from this big meeting and I was really feeling myself and I just had that moment like, ‘Girl, you are everything. Yes you deserve this.’ And really, as soon as the moment hit my mind, I swear to God, I split my jeans getting into the Uber. God was like, ‘Yeah, nope. You still have to work for it honey.’

You've launched your first podcast and are about to set off on your inaugural comedy tour. What do you want to remember about this time of your life? I’ve always known since I was a kid [that] I wanted to do comedy. I knew the success was going to come. But I genuinely think you have to go on a ride. If it happens overnight, it’s not going to be good. I’m now in a place of my life where I have a better understanding of who I am and what’s going on in my life where I think I’m better suited for now. I’m surrounded by such good people who have been with me since the beginning. I think it’s all about having people around you who you trust that have the best intentions for you. It’s all part of the journey.

For those who don't know you yet, what do you want them to know about you? I’m just here for a good time. Don’t take life too seriously. Life is short, so we just have to sit back and laugh and observe and just get through it together. Really and truly, I can’t do [this] unless everybody’s doing this with me.

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