Harrison released her third studio album, Moodring, in 2003. The album produced the single "My Love Is Like...Wo" and was certified gold by the RIAA. Following a label change and a delay in her fourth studio album, Harrison went independent and recorded two exclusive albums for the Japanese music market, Sugar & Spice (2008) and K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sexy & Simple) (2011). In between recording those two albums, she launched her own independent record label Planet 9, and competed in Dancing with the Stars – season nine; finishing in second place.
Aside from a music career, Harrison branched out into acting; making her feature-film debut in 1999's thriller In Too Deep starring LL Cool J and Omar Epps. She continued to score supporting roles in films such as Chicago (winning a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble Cast); Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004); Shall We Dance? (2004); and Cursed (2005). She has endorsed several brands such as Coca-Cola, Gap, Iceberg, Tommy Hilfiger, and Motorola. Harrison's contribution to music has earned her many accolades in the fields of pop and R&B music categories. In 2009, Billboard listed Mýa as one of their Hot 100 Artists of the 2000s; placing her in the 97th position. As of October 2009, she has sold 3.2 million albums in the United States alone and 7 million albums worldwide.
Early life and career beginnings
Mýa Harrison, a native of Washington, D.C. is one of three children, born to an African-American father and Italian-American mother. Her father Sherman, a musician and singer, performed with several bands in the area; her mother Theresa worked as an accountant. She grew up in suburban Washington D.C. in Maryland with her two younger brothers Chaz and Nijel. As a child, she imitated Michael Jackson in her mother's high-heeled boots, using a spoon as a make-believe microphone. Mýa took violin lessons throughout her childhood, but dancing was her primary after-school activity. Mýa started ballet lessons in 1982 when she was only two and jazz and tap when she was four. Although she lost interest for several years, her interest waned at about age 10, but at age 12, it was rekindled. Her tap-dancing skills led to an opportunity to study with one of the best-known tap dancers in the country, Savion Glover of the Dance Theater of Harlem, when he came to Washington DC for a workshop. Glover later chose Mýa for a solo spot in a dance performance at the Kennedy Center
Mýa sometimes had to endure insensitive comments about her ethnic background, but her accomplishments as a dancer helped her make the transition into adolescence and deal with its peer pressure. As she explained in an appearance on Canada's Much Music television show in January 2001:
There was a time in my life when I wasn't popular and accepted by kids in school. I was made fun of with braces and kinky hair, and being from a multicultural family, etcetera... And it really hurts when you're that age, but later when you get something of your own or you get involved in activities like a sport, you begin to be accepted for what you do, and your personality and who you are, instead of your clothes and how you look and the name designer brands you have on.
As a popular performer, she would later draw from her experiences to speak to girls' groups as part of the Secret of Self-Esteem program for adolescents, addressing issues such as body image, peer pressure, and gender stereotypes. Learning steps from music videos landed her a stint from 1996 until 1998 as a hip-hop dancer for BET's "Teen Summit". She also began teaching a children's hip-hop and jazz dance class in Camp Springs. By age 15, Mýa's musical side took over and her professional-musician father helped her perfect her vocal abilities. When he realized that his daughter was serious about a career in music, Mýa's father began shopping around with her demo tape, eventually catching the interest of University Music president and CEO Haqq Islam. After graduating high school at 16, Mýa took a few classes at the University of Maryland, College Park, but the teenager's primary focus was on the recording studio.
After signing with Interscope, Mýa spent the next two years recording and completing her debut studio album. The album featured production and collaborations from noteworthy hit-makers such as Missy Elliott, Babyface, Diane Warren, Dru Hill, Darryl Pearson and Silkk Tha Shocker and spawned three successful singles. Her debut single, "It's All About Me" featuring fellow R&B singer Sisqó, was released on February 14, 1998. It peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart respectively. The single received a gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America on June 4, 1998. Her eponymous debut album was released April 21, 1998 in the United States and reached No. 29 on the Billboard 200. The album sold 1.4 million copies in the United States and received a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America on October 1, 1998; denoting shipments to US retailers of over 1,000,000 units.
The album's second single "Movin' On", featured No Limit rapper Silkk Tha Shocker and peaked at No. 34 on the Hot 100 and No. 4 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart respectively. A third single, "My First Night with You" peaked at No. 28 on both the Hot 100 and the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The album earned Mýa two Soul Train Music Award nominations for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist and Best R&B/Soul Album – Female and a NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding New Artist. In addition to her solo work, Mýa was featured with Ol' Dirty Bastard on Pras' Grammy-nominated 1998 hit "Ghetto Supastar" from the Bulworth soundtrack and "Take Me There" from The Rugrats Movie, with Blackstreet, Blinky Blink, and Mase.