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Successful Songwriter, Mia Rivera, Hits Another High Note With Awards for Screenwriting, Producing and Acting

Mia Rivera is a very proud U.S. Army Veteran. She served as a combat medic and was stationed at Letterman Army Medical Center, located at the Presidio in San Francisco, California. She is also an award-winning filmmaker, writer, producer, actor, and songwriter. Her two short comedic films have each won over 100 accolades so far in film festivals worldwide, including Best Film of Festival, Best Comedy, Best Producer, Best Actress, Best Ensemble, and Best Original Song.

Before you embarked on a career in the film and TV business, you achieved success in the music industry. You’ve worked with amazing producers, songwriters and singers such as Narada Michael Walden, Preston Glass, Taylor Dayne, Fergie and Freda Payne to name a few. Can you share your experiences working with them?

Meeting the very talented Narada Michael Walden was a life-changer for me. He’s such a huge talent! I was at a songwriting convention, and he was a speaker. My song was played anonymously over the loudspeaker. Narada asked whose song it was and I stood up from the audience. He said that he wanted to talk to me after the seminar was over. During that conversation, he said that he liked my song and wanted to write with me. In my songwriting career, that was my first break. I’ll always be grateful to Narada as I wouldn’t be where I am now if he hadn’t heard something in my early songs.

Meeting and working with Taylor Dayne was a dream come true. She is such a phenomenal singer and wonderful woman! She’s so humble and kind, with a big heart. Every professional singer sounds great after all the bells and whistles are added in the studio, but I can tell you, I’ve stood right next to her with no microphone, no effects, just raw and she is incredible. I was pretty starstruck by Taylor at first, but she immediately put me at ease and gave me an enormous amount of respect considering how many awe-inspiring accomplishments she had. At that point, I really didn’t have much, but she didn’t care. She loved my songs.

Fergie, Stacy Ferguson of the famed Black Eyed Peas, is another fabulous singer I had the pleasure of working with! It was really awesome to be in the studio with her and hear her lovely voice singing my songs. Wow!

Freda Payne is such a talented lady! She’s beautiful and has such a sultry, silky voice. She’s been a star since before I was even born, so it was really awesome, especially for my parents to hear “their Freda Payne” singing my song, Let’s Make Beautiful Music, co-written and produced by the amazing Preston Glass.

After working in this industry for as long as I have now, I think that I understand that we’re all just trying to do great work. Some of the biggest names in the industry have been the kindest and most humble, even more generous than those who are only a step or two ahead. At the end of the day, it’s all about the work.

During your career you have explored other fields within the entertainment industry, such as acting and becoming a producer. What inspired you to take these other directions?

I started off as a professional songwriter and later also became a vocal producer. As different as it may seem, I was creating characters. I was walking in those characters’ shoes, in their worlds. I was acting, even if it was just in my mind. When it came to being an actress for the screen, it wasn’t as different as it would be if I had come from a different profession.

Writing songs and scripts both require creating characters and their worlds, circumstances, words, thoughts, emotions, desires, triumphs, and tragedies, so the main difference for me is putting all of those things in their respective formats. In songs, you have about three to four minutes to convey all of that. In scripts, you have substantially more time. So, for me, the formats are different, but my process is the same.

Producing films came from a desire to bring my scripts to life. It’s been an incredible learning experience for me. As a producer, you wear a lot of hats. As the productions get bigger, you have to delegate more jobs. Starting off small has allowed me to learn what those jobs include, so I can help explain what is needed to the person who gets the job. It’s really a dream come true to be surrounded by people you respect and admire, all working toward the same goal!


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What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had while working in the entertainment industry?

Meeting my songwriting idol, Diane Warren, shortly after moving to Los Angeles was such a thrill for me! I grew up listening to her songs. They were the soundtrack of my life. They helped me feel not so alone, especially during my teen years. I was thrilled to run into her again recently and hear her latest Oscar-nominated song, Applause, in person.

She’s just as hardworking and as much of a hitmaker as she ever was. Actually, probably even more. I’m so thrilled for her much-deserved success– most recently being nominated for her 14th Oscar after being awarded her first Oscar. Go Diane!

Winning my first film festival award for Lizzy’s Plan, the first film I wrote, produced, wrote all the songs for, and starred in, was such an unbelievable feeling! It was a huge surprise. I just couldn’t believe it. It was also such an incredible feeling of validation. I still pinch myself when films I’ve written, produced, written songs for, or starred in win awards. It’s always such a wonderful surprise.

The screenwriting process is not so different for me than the songwriting process. It’s a very singular process in the writing stage, and then in the production process it becomes very much a team effort. I’ve been really blessed with amazing talented people who have helped bring these scripts to life.

What are your expectations for this year?

I’m preparing to pitch my half-hour comedy series, Lizzy’s Plan, based on my two award-winning films, to networks and streamers. Of course, I also plan to keep taking classes to continue improving my skill set, seeking respected mentors, attending events to expand my circle of colleagues, and putting one foot in front of the other toward my goals.

What is your advice to people who have tried to break into the entertainment industry as musicians, filmmakers or actors, but have not been able to achieve their dreams yet?

Never, ever give up. If you quit, the odds are 100 percent that you won’t make it. Your odds are definitely better if you keep at it. It’s not about how many times you fall down—it’s about how many times you get back up.

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Tammy  Reese
Tammy Reese
Feb 18, 2023

Awesome article

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