Article by Tristan Dyer
Buoyant and endearing, English actor Maria Austin has found her irrepressible groove in tackling each role as it comes. Drawn to historical pieces, there is far more to Maria’s acting than a façade; she imbues her work with a three dimensional depth that contains unfeigned spirit. We discussed what it encompasses to deep dive into her array of roles, and she shared her thoughts on bridging the age gap in women’s careers. ​​​​​​​

Blazer dress by Y/Project; earrings by Saad Collection. Photo by Saskia Lawson

Encouraged to pursue acting by her grandmother who had dreams of being in the industry herself, Maria found her creative surrounding to be what inspired her most. Her after school activities consisted of watching classic films such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘The Sound of Music.’ She transformed her living room into an intimate stage, reenacting each character. “I was really curious about the people; that’s what appealed to me. I didnt realize early on that they were characters,” Austin effervescently expressed. These performances did not go without inventive costumes that she would construct herself with pride.

Once Maria reached the age of eleven, she knew her innate fervor for acting was something she wanted to nurture and explore. Joining a local theatre company in her teens allowed her to gain momentum with her talents. She found that being surrounded by older working actors provided immense inspiration. After completing a drama program at Royal Holloway, University of London, Maria landed herself in New York City, where she continued her training at the renowned Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

Blouse and trousers by Noon by Noor; earrings by Maison Lumiere; shoes by Joripapa. Photo by Saskia Lawson

Looking up to her peers and professionals in the industry, Maria insightfully shared her thoughts on the growth of appreciation towards female actors, stating, “We’re starting to see a lot more mixture of ages and characters for women. There are more female directors that are at a stage in their career where they have the gravitas and experience and have interest in telling stories of women of all ages and inter-generational relationships. Now there are more roles for women, I’m excited to see how the actors I watched growing up continue to evolve.”

With an enthusiastic drive to dive into the undiscovered core of her roles, there is a tremendous amount of research that goes into her preparation for a character. “I thrive when I work with directors that come down the rabbit hole with me; it is a real privilege and highlight in the job,” Austin shared.

Dress by House of Sheldon Hall; Earrings by Lag World; shirt by Guy Laroche; boots by Doc Martens. Photo by Saskia Lawson

As our ebullient conversation ascended, we touched on one of her most recent films, ‘Mercy’, that is aired on Apple TV. The impactful film is focused on animal rights and the detrimental effects that our farming and consumption of them inflicts on our planet. As a long time vegetarian herself, Maria felt it was a striking coincidence when she was cast as a lead. Maria recalled the creative process as being, “Intense, amazing, eye opening and harrowing.” Maria continued to share on how she executed her role saying, “We were sent many links to graphic footage of what happens to the animals. Some scenes we wanted to replicate some of the footage and the sequences of the movement. We found that there was a real innocence and curiosity about the pigs; I wanted to find that.”

Assiduous with the roles she selects, Maria stated that a common theme when she is reading scripts is, “Finding ways of serving the overall story, but also finding the authenticity in the characters themselves. With good writing, there are many lightbulbs that start to go off.”

Jacket by Anciela. Photo by Saskia Lawson

Next on the horizon, the stage is calling. Maria will be involved in an award winning play based on the tragic true story of Agathe Uwilingiyimana, a former Prime Minister of Rwanda who was assassinated. “I am really excited about it; I did some development work with the director and the script is really great writing,” Maria voiced.

It’s safe to say in Maria’s off time you will find her in the library, voraciously reading books for her next character adventure, if she’s not head down working for her production company, Dawn Chorus Films (co-founded with Priyanga Burford). With a solace appreciation for her coworkers, Maria wrapped up our call saying, “I love nothing more than a magical environment where everyone is working their absolute hardest in what they specialize in, and all of those positions layer together to make the finished product.”

Blazer dress by Y/Project; earrings by Saad Collection; shoes by Pleiades. Photo by Saskia Lawson

“Mercy is available now in the Apple TV Store and Maria can be seen from April in Agathe at the Playground Theatre in West London. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Maria Austin - Represented by Amanda Squires @xamanda.squiresx @ CLD Communications Ltd
Writer/Interview Tristan Dyer @tristandyer
Photographer Saskia Lawson @_saskialawson
Wardrobe Stylist Ruta Jane @ruta.jane
Hairstylist/Makeup Artist Lauren Phelan @laurenphelanmakeup

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