Maia Knibb is an Australian actress living and working in Los Angeles. With extensive experience in both theater and film, she is known for her work as a lead roles in various web series such as Amp It Up! (2013), The Next Step (2014), and most recently White Noise (2017) and Satori (2017). Feature films she has starred in include, Status Quo (2013) and Ashburn Waters (2013), and you should be on the look out for her newest feature film currently being shot, more information of which will be released in the coming months.
We sat down with Maia to discuss how her year has been going as well as the secrets to her success.
Hey Maia! You’ve had a busy year in 2017. What has been the most valuable thing you have learned this year?
This year has been crazy! I’ve been so lucky to be working non-stop for most of the year, and have met some absolutely incredible people. I think the most valuable thing I’ve learned this year has come from not only my own experiences, but through the experiences of my fellow creative friends- and that is that you have to fight for yourself. Over and over I see friends who receive a promise or an amazing offer from someone in the industry, and they think that they can relax until that offer eventuates—but 99% of the time, that offer will fizzle out. So when opportunities are presenting themselves, it’s the time to fight harder, no matter what stage of your career you are at.
What is it like working with big name talent like Emily Swallow (The Mentalist) and Colin Egglesfield (Melrose Place), Mark Dreschke of DreamWorks animation?
The thing about Colin that I don’t think people know is that he is one of the funniest people out there. I still remember when we were working on a serious script, and during this serious conversation, he starts ripping up little bits of the script and throwing them at me. It’s hilarious, because he is always cast as the serious, dashing male lead—but he is actually the funniest, immature person. Emily is so lovely and one of the most hard working people I know, and same with Mark.
How has the experience of performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade changed your acting style? Are you heading more in a comedic direction?
Performing on the UCB stage is probably the scariest thing ever—but also probably one of the coolest things an actor (who is interested in comedy) can do. I mean, you could be sharing the stage with the biggest names in improv: Zach Woods, Seth Green, etc. It totally changed my acting style. I am now more interested in finding organic moments of comedy on set these days, rather than relying totally on what is scripted in front of me. The last show I did, Making Madison, allowed for so many moments of improvisation—and it was really great to be able to transfer all the tricks I acquired from UCB to that set.
What roles do you prefer? Roles that are more close to your personal demeanor? Or those that get you out of your skin?
That is such a hard question! I think when I was younger it wasn’t okay to be as odd and quirky as I am. I still remember putting down a tape for a TV show, and trying to be as normal and conventional as possible, only to have my agent comment on how off beat my interpretation was. It made me feel really deflated. But since I moved to LA, I’ve found that being quirky and offbeat is actually right where you want to be. For a lot of people I’ve worked with, I’m now their go-to ‘quirky girl’.
Although no actor can turn down the challenge of a role that totally stretches you. I’m actually starting a new feature film later this year where I play a character that is the total opposite of myself, which will be a great challenge.
How do you prepare a role for film versus a role for television?
This one totally boils down to time. With film, you have much longer (sometimes months and months) to prepare for a role. For the role I mentioned before, I have to sing and play guitar, and walk and talk in a totally different way to how I do normally, so I’ve been working on this for a while now. For series, you really don’t have much time—I think I had two weeks to prepare for my character in Making Madison, and I was on that show for the whole season. So really when you’re working with short time frames, I think a lot more of it relies on your ability to mesh with your co-stars and feed off their energy.
“Nothing human is alien to me.” This is quite possibly my favourite phrase ever. No matter what, and no matter how short the time frame is, I think all human emotions are accessible to us.
Okay. We are all dying to know. What’s the craziest thing that has happened on set?
There are always plenty of pranks happening on set across all different departments. When I was working on a horror film called Ashburn Waters, some of the cast members and I worked tirelessly to convince the rest of the cast and crew that the campsite was actually haunted. But I think the craziest thing that has happened was on a different project, in LA, which had a scene set in a hotel room. We had a massive crew, and had acquired all the licenses, but halfway through filming we almost got shut down, as they thought we were shooting a pornographic film. We definitely weren’t!