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1:1 With Mariah Hilliard
Writer: Mark Edwards; Editor: Kadeem Pilgrim
At first glance, many see Mariah Jasmine Hilliard as a dancer and choreographer. Hilliard is based in Los Angeles, California and has performed alongside major artists, including Drake, Normani, Saweetie, Diddy, and French Montana.
However, if you look a bit deeper you realize she is much more than that. Mariah is proud Hampton University alumna, reps her home state of Delaware with Pride, and was recently featured in HBCU Buzz’s HBCU 30 Under 30 list for 2019.
Growing up in a household with a mother that danced, Mariah seemed destined to embrace the performing arts. And while she spent her early childhood into her teen years dancing pre-professionally, she didn’t know that she wanted to go pro until after achieving her degree in accounting at Hampton University in the Spring of 2014.
“I honestly just took a leap of faith. I just jumped out. And then once I got my degree I was like, this is great, but I just have a passion for dance. So just like my mama, I'm moving to LA and just making it happen.”
Moving to LA would be an ultimate turning point for Mariah. LA would be the place that gave her the most lessons, as well as her big break.
“I would say just moving to LA was my, my preparation because it gave me a different grind. It gave me a different love for dance, just to see everyone around me grinding for the same thing. Of course, you have your foundation. So yes, my mom put me in dance and had a major effect on where I am today. But moving to LA and having to go through a struggle, it gives you a different field of view on what you really love.”
After grinding in LA Mariah saw the fruit of her labor when she performed at Coachella alongside French Montana.
“When I walked on my stage I was like, ‘Oh, okay, I'm here, this is it.’”
She would later grow even more in popularity after appearing in multiple music videos with notable artists such as Normani and Drake. She spoke about her experience working with both artists.
“Drake, it was still more of like a free spirit, a party, you know what I mean? And Normani gave me a different work ethic...it was two different vibes and I love both of them.”
Mariah’s free-spirited and hardworking nature has made her an outstanding creator, choreographer, and dancer. She definitely earned her spot on the HBCU 30 Under 30. Lastly, she has some advice for other up-and-comers.
“I would say literally never ever stop. Like always keep going and if you want something, you have to go for it. Nobody is just going to give it to you.”
For more on Mariah, stay tuned for clips from our 1:1 together, which will make its way to Instagram this month!