Actor and OU sweetheart say pandemic and Indian Child Welfare Act brought the ‘miraculous’

JENKS, Okla. — Texas native Cody Mayo always wanted to be a professional actor.

He was the first in his family to get into college. In 2006, Cody began his studies at the University of Oklahoma (OU) as a drama major. It was during his sophomore year that Cody met his wife, Casey during homecoming at a fraternity and sorority event.

Casey was raised in south Tulsa and graduated from Jenks High School in 2005. She was studying psychology.

“He introduced himself by saying, ‘Hi, I’m Cody Mayo, like the condiment.’ He was funny,” said Casey. “There was a spark from the very beginning. We didn’t really have a friendship zone. It went right to dating seriously.”

Cody and Casey soon discovered they both shared a desire to adopt one day.

“I had always had a heart for it. She had a heart for it,” said Cody.

The two continued dating throughout college.

“We got engaged during my senior year and married during finals week,” said Cody.

Soon after the newlyweds graduated, they both moved to Los Angeles. Casey worked for Pepperdine University and Cody pursued an acting career.

“By my second week of living in Los Angeles, I was auditioning at Warner Bros.,” said Cody.

The actor booked several guest roles on shows like TNT’s Major Crimes, MTV’s Faking It, CBS’s Doubt and FOX’s 9-1-1.

Cody said he has worked on productions for almost every major network.

“My biggest role was getting the opportunity to join the Marvel Universe for three seasons in Runaways. That was a dream come true opportunity and one of the best learning experiences I could’ve asked for,” said Cody.

Meanwhile, Casey had started a new career as a pediatric sleep consultant. Several of her clients were families in the film industry.

“I help parents get their kids sleeping through the night, and that’s been my passion. I think we as parents walk around almost like a badge of honor being exhausted. But really, we don’t have to be,” said Casey.

In 2016, Cody and Casey had a girl named Lucy. A year later, the couple welcomed Max into the world.

“You know, when she became a mother, she wrapped her arms around that and has gone above and beyond for everything,” said Cody. “The effort she puts into just understanding each child in our house and what they need. She’s a tremendous mom,” said Cody.

Life was good. But, then in 2020, COVID hit.

“COVID changed everything for us in LA. The city did shut down. I had just wrapped my work on FOX’s 9-1-1 a few weeks prior to the shutdown and then it was like overnight everything stopped,” said Cody. “The virus was so serious in LA and a lot of that had to do with the fact that LA is extremely populated. The acting industry more or less completely came to a halt and then just about all of the survival jobs for entertainers shut down as well.”

Before the pandemic, the couple had become certified foster parents in Los Angeles County.

“There was a crisis in LA County during the early part of COVID because kids were still being born and all of a sudden the state found itself in a situation where there were very limited foster homes to help,” said Cody. “LA County ended up asking for assistance and my wife and I saw this as our opportunity to help. With one phone call, literally, we had a newborn in our arms that night.”

The Mayos were now fostering newborns right at the height of the pandemic while raising two toddlers of their own.

“The hardest part of the process was navigating all of the medical and rehabilitation appointments during the peak of COVID. The virus was so bad in LA. Numbers were skyrocketing. At that point, it was going in and out of all of those facilities and being concerned for my health, but mainly for the child’s health. A lot of our kids that stayed with us had medical conditions that put them at extreme risk of the virus and that caused some sleepless nights for sure,” said Cody.

The Mayos knew their purpose was to give these foster children the best life they could while they were in their care.

“It was like she was their mother the moment they came in. It brought out the best in our toddlers. My daughter, Lucy, became mom’s best helper and my son, Max, nurtured each of them with hugs and the holding of hands,” said Cody.

The Mayos fostered a total of three boys through Los Angeles County. The first two were eventually placed back into the care of their biological or extended family.

Cody said the “miraculous part of the story is because of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The aim is to keep native children with native families.”

Cody happened to be part of a native tribe that is regionalized in Oklahoma.

“The county called us one day. They had a baby that was currently in the NICU, but he was going to be released soon and they needed a place for him. And it turned out that he was a part of the exact same tribe that I’m a part of,” said Cody. “And so here we were both in Los Angeles, which is a melting pot full of just so many different cultures.”

Cody says he was the only person certified to be a foster parent from Los Angeles County at that time, that was also part of the same native tribe that the newborn baby was from.

“Unbelievable, that not only did they find someone that was connected to the native heritage, but they found someone of that specific tribe. The chances of that and the odds of it were just ridiculous,” said Cody.

Another extraordinary piece of the puzzle is that Cody had always liked the name Bear, which turned out to be the infant’s name.

“It was like it was definitely fate that he was to end up in our family,” said Casey.

“He’s an incredible story and one day he’ll tell his own story and will inspire a lot of people,” said Cody.

After being in Los Angeles for nearly a decade, the Mayos began thinking about moving back to Jenks to be around family.

“So, there we were with three toddlers and no immediate family nearby trying to make it work. I have five brothers and sisters, and most of them reside here in Tulsa,” said Casey. “I knew this area was a great place to raise a family.”

At the end of 2021, the Mayos closed a chapter in their lives and returned to Oklahoma. It has been about a year adjusting to a new home and the family is continuing to transition to a completely different way of life.

“I think that I would describe our life now as very busy, in a different way though. Because it’s mainly focused on the kids, you know, activities and getting to do what they love. And it’s so fun to see that and I think that’s my favorite part of living here,” said Casey.

Casey has continued her work as a pediatric sleep consultant and Cody has continued acting.

“The great news is that Oklahoma has come a long way since I’ve been away with the film community doing great things with Reservation Dogs, Killers of the Flower Moon, Tulsa King. There’s more and more coming,” said Cody. “I can audition from my iPhone for a project in Los Angeles or New York, and if things progress in that audition, you hop on a plane and you go.”

In March of this year, he opened up the Cody Mayo Acting Studio.

“One of the hardest parts coming up as an actor here was realizing that the amount of opportunities to learn and to train at a high level was far and few between. My whole mission is to really offer professional-level quality training right here in Oklahoma, the same training that I was exposed to and worked in Los Angeles. My entire mission is to make sure that every actor that comes through my doors leaves ready to at least work on a professional set,” Cody explained.

He says the best part about training actors is seeing, “them discovering that they have the ability to do it well and then to do it better next time. That’s been the most enjoyable part for me.”

Cody is currently teaching adult actors in downtown Tulsa. In January, he will launch his Young Actors Program in Jenks at Anthem Road Academy on Main Street.

“The time is now if you want to be a part of this on this side of the camera,” said Cody. “With Oklahoma, I think we stand a chance of being one of the main players in the Midwest for film and television.”

As the world continues to move out from the pandemic, the Mayo family knows that the past few years didn’t come without a cost.

“My parents have passed. I lost my father last year to COVID. Two years ago, I lost my mother. It’s been a rocky road and I can’t imagine going through this with anybody else,” said Casey.

“Every day I wake up, I go, ‘Our kids are just so lucky,’ because Casey has this talent of just making the smallest thing a really meaningful thing. But she was like that before kids too,” Cody says with a smile.

As far as fostering future children, the Mayos remain open.

“I think the door’s never closed. I think it’s always there. It’s always something we’ll consider doing,” said Cody. “Especially now that we’ve been through it with ICWA. Bear and I both have now moved to Oklahoma where his ancestors, my ancestors were from, so he’s back home in a lot of ways,” said Cody.