Just weeks after graduating from drama school, 21 year old Maya Grant has landed a lead role in her first feature film, UFO, a British Sci-Fi production from director Dominic Burns. After hours running up and down the Derby hills during takes, Maya limped in to our interview, with a permanent smile on her face. Maya speaks to THN about getting her break, coping in auditions and working with the legendary Jean ClaudeVan Damme;
When I got the call about the part in UFO I had a mouthful of toothpaste. As soon as I heard the voice on the other the end of the phone I was like *hkkkkkkkkkkk-ptoooo!* I said, “Oh yes this is Maya”, trying to be all cool. My mind was racing:*Oh my god Oh my god* then I hear: “Dominic would like to offer you…” and it seemed to go on forever. I had to contain a full on scream. I’m from Bridgend, things like this don’t happen to me! Working in an action film, it’s all I’ve ever wanted, let alone one with Jean Claude Van Damme, who was so lovely to work with.
I grew up in South Wales, my mum couldn’t handle us in the house on a Saturday morning, so she shoved into a ballet class, just to get us out of the house. My mum always said I was performing from a young age, I for this apologise cause its really cringy, but when she held me for the first time when I was born she said, “this one is going to have her name in lights.”
I got into a youth theatre when I was 12, but we did amateur productions. I’m more theatre trained than anything else, but I also did short films with ITV. It was a training scheme called ‘It’s my Shout.’ Everyone said ‘you’ll be great on camera’, but I never knew what they meant. I went straight to Itali Conti, the place that expelled Russle Brand, and got in on my first year of trying, luckily.
I graduated literally a month ago and did a lot of auditions. A lot of the time it’s just what you look like. There’s no point being nervous in audition, just be truthful, if your nervous, don’t focus on the words, use your personality. I was working four jobs, before this. Telesales in the day, then I’d go straight to work in a bar, a Caberet club or a waitressing agency. I was really struggling, didn’t know how I’d pay next month’s rent. But then by fate or by chance or or luck: I got this.
Because I haven’t had much film experience, Dom [UFO director Dominic Burns] took a serious risk on me, he didn’t know how I’d look on screen. Someone needs to give you a break and if you don’t get the break, you can’t progress. I don’t ever, under any circumstances want to let him down – he’s put so much trust in me. I’m surrounded by talent on the UFO set, so I’m going to keep my game up. Believe me, I have every intention of working my ass off.
Watch this space.