Story by: Lisa Marie Corso
Photographer: Amelia Stanwix
Maria wears: Eva Blouse (shop) + Gingham Polo Top (shop) + Eva Pant (shop)
Actress, Writer, Creator
In show business there are triple threats. These are the people who excel at, you guessed it, three things or more. It’s easy to feel intimidated by these folk who emanate talent from their pores but not when they’re as nice and down-to-earth as actress, writer and creator Maria Angelico. For this Melbourne-based creative becoming a performer was a no brainer, it’s in her DNA. Her parents met in a touring cabaret and Maria has been wooing audiences since she was a youngin’. She loved the thrill of being in character so much she confesses that as a child she “used to sometimes go to sleep wearing a clown nose!”
Now an adult, Maria’s ditched the clown attire for professional acting roles full-time. She’s an onscreen regular, with filming beginning next month on Cate Blanchett's new tv series 'Stateless', having recently played a leading role in Sisters (which is currently streaming on Netflix), and with appearances on Glitch, Mr Black and The Inbestigators airing this year, while developing her own projects.
We recently caught up with the actress in her Carlton North home with her Australian Shepherd accomplice Peta, to chat about how to go after the career you want with gusto, telling your own stories and organising hypothetical dream alfresco dinner parties with her favourite celebrity couple, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.
Hi Maria, let’s go back to the almost beginning! When you were young was there a feeling you’d end up an actor?
I knew it from day one! I used to go sometimes go to sleep wearing a clown nose. Both my parents are performers and I was always singing and dancing at home, it came very naturally to me. I recently found one of those old Groovy Chick diaries from when I was little and inside I had written: “When I grow up I will be an actress or a fashion designer.”
So your family definitely had an influence on your creative career path?
Definitely. I was raised by mum but both my parents were performers. They met in a cabaret and toured the world where they lived on a house boat in Amsterdam before I was born. My mum’s name was Peaches and she was also very encouraging, almost too encouraging, and was always like “you can do whatever you want”, which gave me enormous confidence. I did a lot of school plays and stuff but it wasn’t until I started getting my first proper roles that I took acting more seriously.
One of your first prominent TV gigs came while you were still at high school, when you starred in the ABC comedy We Can Be Heroes. What did you do in the audition to nab this role as a 16-year-old?
It was actually an improvised audition and you could bring a friend, so I brought my best friend then (and now) Adrienne Smith. We were going for the role of two high school girls and in our audition we just flipped through a trashy gossip magazine while making comments and got the job!
After school you briefly took a break from acting to pursue fashion before seguing back into acting, this time, full-time. What prompted you to give acting your full attention?
I was making jewellery and did a collaboration with a local label, which allowed me to do fun stuff like go to fashion week. It was during this period that I got a small guest role on Rush. I was only on set for two days but just fell in love with it and thought this is what I want to be doing and then got really serious about making my acting career become more viable. My mum had passed away during this time and I think that kind of put things into perspective for me, that you need to go for what you want in life, so I studied acting in Melbourne and New York.
Maria wears: Green Fingers Linen Pantsuit (shop) + Gingham Polo Top (shop) + Loretta Loafer (shop)
A little while after you wrote and starred in your own web series Movement. How did this come about?
After I returned from overseas, I moved out by myself to Elwood and had a lot of reflective time. My friend Rhys Mitchell actually encouraged me to write something but I was unsure if I wanted to pursue something other than acting. It was when he said I couldn’t use his pool until I wrote something for myself (he lived around the corner from me) that I started writing. Initially it was more as an exercise but then something clicked in me and I discovered I really loved writing and Movement came from that. We eventually got it made with myself and Rhys starring in it and with our friend Jess Barclay Lawton directing. We ended up taking it to Tribeca Film Festival in New York where I actually wore a Gorman geology print dress to the screening. It was exciting and real whirlwind.
How do you feel making your own content opened you up to further opportunities in the industry?
I think I already had a good reputation in the industry as an actor but as a result of Movement I think people saw me in a potentially different light and I got a lot more feedback. One of the big things that happened shortly after Movement was that producer Imogen Banks wanted to meet with me and have a chat. I thought she was possibly interviewing me for something but wasn’t sure. Six months passed and nothing happened, then one day I got a call saying Imogen had created a show and she had me in mind for one of the lead roles. The show ended up being Sisters! It taught me everything you do has a ripple effect and you just don’t know what impact the things you do now might have further down the track.
Working as a woman in the film industry what have you noticed about the opportunities for women today compared to 10 years ago?
I feel we have a long a way to go particularly in Australia and still find we have to prove ourselves more than men. There’s still that idea that if ‘she’ doesn’t do a great job in this, it might be her last chance, which I don’t feel is equal to men’s experience. On the flipside, I do feel at the moment people are hungrier for female creators and stories, which is exciting. This differs to a few years ago where you’d have to have so many credentials before you could even get your foot in the door.
If you could cook dinner for any actor or writer living or dead – who would it be and why? And what would you cook?
If I could get a combo deal it would be Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. I feel like they’d be a good time, we might play a parlour game and things would get a bit loose. I’d cook something interactive, maybe tacos or a Moroccan multi-dish, and serve it alfresco for sure.
Your go-to 3pm pick up snack?
I’m a big snacker! Popcorn never fails but I’m currently bringing back nostalgia snacks like sliced apple and cheese for some real little lunch vibes.
Any podcasts you’ve been loving recently?
I’m also a big podcaster! I’m currently alternating between Oprah’s SuperSoulSunday, Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail and for some laughs Seek Treatment with Cat & Pat.
How do you think wardrobe can bring a character’s personality visually to the screen?
I think wardrobe can sometimes unlock a character’s personality. For me as an actor I feel wardrobe is super important as it impacts how I carry myself, even subtle things like the pair of shoes a character wears can say a lot. As an audience member I think wardrobe is also super integral, I can really get pulled out of a show if a character is wearing something that doesn’t feel like them.
What’s your daily wardrobe involve?
I’m so big on colour I often worry I’m edging on clown territory (which I am okay with). I’m also a mood dresser and express myself with my clothes. I’ve recently also got into the habit of letting my boyfriend choose my outfits when I’m a bit tired – it’s low risk because I bought all of my clothes – but he does choose some interesting combos I never would have thought of that get lots of compliments. I’d definitely recommend letting your partner choose for you!
And lastly, how would you describe Gorman to a friend?
You know something’s Gorman when you see it and wearing makes you feel like you’re taking care of yourself without taking yourself too seriously.