ON THE RISE: Maia Watkins
ONE OF the standout actors featured at the TriForce Short Film Festival 2016, 27 year-old Maia Watkins first came to our attention on as she performed a supporting role in the award-winning The Dead Sea; a film detailing the horrors of a group of immigrant’s journey across the sea.
Watkins played a role in the short which involved no speech, which made her screen presence ever-more undeniable as a victim of rape at the hands of a Libyan torture camp for immigrants fleeing for their lives or taking a risk for better ones. Watkins and her co-characters were captured and held arbitrarily; often in the hopes of obtaining some sort of ransom from the terrified families they had left behind.
The Identity Drama School (alumni include John Boyega) graduate has recently been picked up by Channel 4 after her performance at MonologueSlam UK, another TriForce Creative Network initiative which is a partnership with the broadcasting giant to scour the country looking for 10 special talents to develop within the Channel 4 Drama programme.
One of seven children, Watkins sits somewhere in the middle of her sibling line-up and displays all the grit of a young woman trying to get her’s after the degree of sharing she’s had to do as both a little sister and a big sister; an experience which has helped her to accept that when it comes to ‘making it’, there is a consistent course to travel, even though she’s “impatient” by nature.
The Voice (TV) caught-up with Watkins (MW) in between her work at five different jobs, auditions and drama classes to find out more about the Jamaican / Guyanese / Russian Brit:
TV: Tell us about your acting journey so far…
MW: I’ve been acting for three years professionally. At secondary school, we used to do Shakespeare in English and it was so boring! At the time I was good at sports - I wanted to do sports science before I got the acting bug. I did a BA in Drama, Film and Sound before studying at Identity. In 2013, I graduated with an MA in Drama to round off what I’d studied before.
I’m dyslexic. That made me realise that I had to do full-on drama and acting - it comes naturally to me.
TV: What have you learned so far that might be helpful to other emerging actors?
MW: I think you have to be proactive. You have to do both - apply for stuff yourself as well as wait for stuff from your agent. I think people like casting directors and agents prefer it if you put in the work yourself to show them you’re hard-working.
I work five jobs to pay bills and within that I’m being flexible so I can attend auditions. I do youth work on a Saturday, Deliveroo, cleaning, theatre ushering and bar work. I live with my mum and brother so I can save some money too. We give our mum some money each month but we don’t have to pay the massive London rents.
TV: Is there a medium you prefer out of theatre, film or TV?
MW: I say, be open-minded, do all of them - Hollywood movies are normally the best paid but you can’t come into this business thinking you’re gonna be rich straightaway. I love theatre - I would love a four-month run somewhere like a Young Vic. A dramatic role.
That said, I would love TV and film too - a full-on film role with lots of work to prepare for the character would be brilliant. My favourite types of parts to play would be in something like Avatar or The Hunger Games if we’re talking film. With TV, I like The Inbetweeners - something with some humour.
TV: Which actors do you aspire to be like in some way, if any?
MW: Tom Hardy - I love the way he gets into character straightaway. I also love Viola Davis - her acting and how she prepares for a role. Malachi Kirby from Identity is someone I’ve always looked-up to, even though we’re friends. I like people that embody the character. Meryl Streep and Jake Gyllenhaal do that well.
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