To CiCi Moya, arts and performing are both a passion and a way of life

Headshot of Cici Moya smiling
CiCi Moya (BA ’11)
CiCi Moya (BA ’11) is no stranger to the public eye. As a digital content creator and event host, Moya has built a life that centres her love of storytelling, performance, and connecting with people. A graduate of uOttawa’s Faculty of Arts with a major in psychology, Moya has also used her study of human behaviour to inform her acting.

Growing up in the Montreal suburb of Laval, and then Ottawa, Moya’s performance journey started as a child. Her passion for singing, dancing, and acting was fueled by a pile of VHS tapes: films like Sister Act, Mathilda, and Dumb and Dumber played on repeat until Moya and her siblings had the lines memorized: “The performances, the music, the colours—I loved it all,” laughs Moya. “These films really shaped my personality.” 

More than entertainment, the worlds woven by movies helped Moya cope with what was, at times, a tumultuous childhood. Her parents divorced when she was young and she often felt the weight of expectations of her religious Haitian-Canadian household. “I would get lost in my imagination and literally escape the moment and my emotions,” remembers Moya.  

This self-proclaimed escapism was paired with a curiosity for human behaviour and a penchant for observing body language. Eventually, this led Moya to uOttawa’s psychology program.  

Finding a Community through the Arts

Moya’s further foray into the arts started after she moved to Toronto following her uOttawa degree. There, she met a colleague who was working part-time as an actress. “I never looked at the arts as being something that was lucrative or that you could pursue as a career,” says Moya.  

Registering for a weekly acting class, Moya received accolades from her teacher and classmates. She got an agent, started booking commercials, and within the year quit her job in Toronto and headed to New York City to study in the intensive performing arts program at the Tom Todoroff Acting Studio.  

“I was finally around people who loved the same thing as me,” says Moya of her time in New York. “Throwing myself into the arts helped heal my inner child and gave me the space to fully discover the world of my imagination. I felt like I was not escaping [through performance], but rather basking in it.” 

Moya says her psychology background influenced how she approached acting. “It helped me connect with characters and dig deeper,” expands Moya. “I’d imagine a whole psychological background and how it informs a character’s decisions. I think any actor could become even better by taking a psychology class.” 

Says Moya about her path of study: “In Haitian culture back then you couldn’t really talk about your parents’ divorce, emotions, or mental health. I had all these questions about behaviour and the mind.”

Throughout her time at uOttawa, Moya continued to sing with a local gospel choir.

Cici Moya smiling arms crossed

“Pursuing something academic while at the same time sticking to my passion was a beautiful balance.”

Cici Moya

Content creation and human connection

In 2016, Moya stepped back from acting to focus on raising her daughter, Ruby. Ruby was born with sickle cell disease, an inherited blood condition that disproportionately affects Black communities. Moya says it takes a lot of energy to manage her daughter’s disease and ensure she can thrive. To raise awareness about the condition, Moya has created numerous videos dedicated to sickle cell advocacy. 

Meanwhile, she has discovered an entirely new artistic outlet: digital content creation. Moya’s YouTube channel has nearly 20,000 subscribers. Her Instagram is followed by over 14,000 people. “Content creation is an amalgamation of film and storytelling, but what I also love about social media is that you get to connect with people,” expands Moya.    

Leveraging her online platforms, Moya has done social media consulting with beauty and lifestyle brands. She’s also hosted several large-scale events, both in-person and online. That includes the Pikliz Comedy Show in Montreal, where she performed a short comedy skit during the opening scene, incorporating her love of storytelling and connecting with an audience. 

Whether it’s through live events or online, Moya is inspired by everything around her. That includes her Haitian family. One of the characters she created for Instagram, Marie-Simone, is based on her late grandma, who Moya describes as having a larger-than-life personality. “I could see myself in the next couple of years writing a play or a short film series—really having fun with the characters I develop,” says Moya. 

Though her next steps are yet to be defined, there is no doubt that Moya will continue to integrate performance and the arts in some way or form. Ultimately, it’s part of what she sees as a fulfilling life: “In acting school we used to say that a good balance in life is connecting your head, your heart, and your hips—having all of you engaged.” 

Selfie of CiCi Moya
CiCi Moya (BA' 11)