As a Dolphins cheerleader and dancer for the Miami Heat, Tarrin McMayo always had to be on point. As one of the faces representing those NFL and NBA brands, she had to treat herself as a brand, always making sure she looked her best even if she was just going to the supermarket. “Someone always recognises you, you never know who’s watching,” said Mc Mayo. In Trinidad, however, Mc Mayo is free to relax just a little, as she is not as yet a recognisable face. That may change soon though as the five feet, nine inches dancer is looking to make her name as a model locally. Born in Oklahoma to Trinidadian parents, Mc Mayo has been spending a lot of time in T&T in recent years. “My parents always wanted us to be close to our roots and when my sister and I moved to Miami, it was easier for us to visit as we got older.
Then I started dating someone here…,” said Mc Mayo, when she visited our Metro offices. Mc Mayo, who maintains her athletic frame by running, cycling and doing yoga, was a competitive gymnast for nine years. She won the state vault championship two years in a row before transitioning into dance at the Tulsa Memorial High School she attended. At the age of 18, Mc Mayo moved to Miami where she attended Florida International University (FIU) to do a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a certificate in Women’s Studies. She continued her dancing at FIU, competing at regional and national dance competitions such as those we often see on ESPN. Her old coach became a cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins, an NFL team, and always curious about the sport, Mc Mayo tried out and got accepted, eventually becoming co-captain of the squad. She cheered with the Dolphins for three years and left, intending to take a break until her sister, who captains the Miami Heat dancers, encouraged her to try out.
Mc Mayo started dancing for the Heat in 2010, the same year LeBron James and Chris Bosh made their highly publicised and controversial move to the Miami team. Describing the trio – Dwayne Wade, Bosh and James – as nice guys who are always looking for ways to help the youth, Mc Mayo said most people have no good reason to dislike the team. She stayed with the team for a year, though she said she felt like she was on the court with them this year when the team won its second NBA title, giving LeBron his first championship ring. Now pursuing a Masters in Human Resources Management, Mc Mayo has not ruled out returning to the court as a dancer. Working with the Dolphins and the Heat has allowed her many experiences, especially in travel. She has toured the Middle East and Africa as well as parts of Europe and the Caribbean to perform, network and modeling. In St Martin and the Bahamas the girls were actually shot for a calendar. Those shoots inspired Mc Mayo to consider modeling which she has actively begun to pursue. Already, she has appeared in a few commercials in the US and has modeled for Tribe and Fantasy. Tomorrow she will again model at Fantasy’s band launch in Chaguaramas and on Wednesday will do the same for YUMA’s band launch.
“I want to do more down here, it would be nice to establish myself in both markets,” she said. Mc Mayo said eventually she would love to open her own dance and gymnastic studio. She also wants to be a philanthropist and start a girls club in T&T, where she could be a role model and establish scholarship programmes. The 26-year-old said she knows many people have a perception about cheerleaders, often mistaking them for airheads who do nothing else but cheer. That couldn’t be further from the truth, she said, noting that the cheerleaders she knows are lawyers and teachers. “It is something I consider to be a paid hobby,” she said, also putting to rest a belief that cheerleaders date players. “You have to keep the relationship professional,” she said. To those who may desire being a cheerleader, Mc Mayo said the main trait you need is confidence. “Give yourself confidence to try out, you don’t have to be the world’s best dancer, you just need to have the energy, a positive attitude and professionalism.”