María Gabriela de Faría is a one-of-a-kind person to talk with; so full of life and vivacious, and one of the most down-to-Earth people we’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing. Your new favourite series is going to be Deadly Class, and if you’re familiar with the performer from Nickelodeon Latin America (and it seems like a lot of you are!), her performance as Maria Salazar is going to knock you out in the series based on Rick Remender’s comic book series of the same name and from executive producers The Russo Brothers.
Despite the interview taking place over the phone from her hotel room in New York City, her joyful essence comes through clearly and she opened up about all things Deadly Class.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our fun chat with the charming María Gabriela de Faría.
Brief Take: Tell me about your experience filming Deadly Class.
María Gabriela de Faría: We had to do a lot of physical work and a lot of emotional work. I believe that Maria, my character, and you’ll get to see it as of episode 5, she’s a very complex person. She’s bipolar and she’s one of the best students in the academy. I have no experience with fighting or fight training at all, so that was very new for me, and it was pretty cool because while we shot the pilot, we had some sort of boot camp for assassins in training. We would train every single day for hours and hours, and just simple stuff to get us ready for the actual fights that we were going to have throughout the season. So I had to take kickboxing, and I had to hire a personal trainer for her to make me stronger and physically capable of facing all of these challenges that Maria has. So it was very fun because every single day of work had a different challenge. I would have a different fighting scene with different characters, so there wasn’t a single boring day on set. [laughs]
BT: This cast gets along so well. I heard that Dungeons & Dragons brought you all together in a way.
MGDF: You know what? That was funny because that was the boys’ thing. They would try to get the girls to do it, and we did a couple of times, but then we wanted to do different things! [laughs] So for example, Lana and I would explore around Vancouver with our boyfriends, or we would go to the movies. But as we were doing those things all the boys were playing Dungeons & Dragons for hours and hours. So although we didn’t get to play that much [laughs], we learned a lot because on set and between scenes that’s what they were talking about, all the time! So we all had characters and mine was some sort of lady cat with superpowers or something, because I love cats.
The thing about this cast is that we are all so grateful to be doing this, because we know how great this opportunity is. And then spending so much time together with people that share your own dreams and passions, it’s only natural for them to get close to each other, so that’s what happened. We got to meet everybody’s families, everybody’s boyfriends and girlfriends, and we became really, really good friends. We all have the same goal, you know, which was to make an amazing TV show for everybody and to really give the fans of the comic what they wanted. And I think we did it. [laughs] I hope so!
BT: How much did your dance background play into your character’s movement on the show?
MGDF: Rick Remender definitely approached me about my dancing background and being Latina. Miles (Orion Feldsott) wrote a scene in which Chico (Michel Duval) and Maria were dancing Bachata. In the end, we didn’t get to do it because they changed it and they made it different, which was also very, very cool. But they came to me and asked me questions about all the dancing. Rick would say to me: “What do you think that Maria likes to hear on the radio? What do you think she dances to?”, and that was really cool because I got to really be a part of the creative process of my character, and that doesn’t happen often.
BT: Do you feel like there’s a link between María the character and Maria the performer?
MGDF: Absolutely! And not only because of the name [laughs], but because we’re both Latinas. I think that it’s important for a Latina to play this particular role because I got to bring my own culture. And again, the writers texted me quite often asking me questions about my culture and about my background, just to give her to the other Maria, my evil twin, as some people call her. [laughs] So yeah, of course!
BT: I appreciated that the show openly and honestly depicts various mental illnesses. That’s so refreshing and rare on TV.
MGDF: That’s a part of the show that I really like because we all suffer from some sort of anxiety and fear and depression nowadays, with the expectations being so high and social media messing with our brains and our confidence. I’ve been dealing with anxiety for years now, and I found myself lying to my friends, and leaving parties or dinners and telling them, “Oh, I’m not feeling well”, or “Oh, it’s late, I have to work early”, but the truth is that I was having a panic attack or anxiety attack. So with the role, I got to be more honest about it, and I feel like this is a great platform for us to discuss mental health in a more candid way, which is really important. Maria’s bipolar, Marcus suffers from depression, so yeah, it’s a big part of the show.
BT: What do you think is the importance of projecting positive messages with the platform that you have?
MGDF: It’s very important. It’s an audience that every artist, every influencer has, we can’t take this gift that we are given for granted. We need to be able to do something good for the planet, for the people who follow our work, and with the voice that we have, it’s bigger than we sometimes think it is. Nowadays with social media, everybody could make a difference. You don’t have to be famous to give advice to people, in terms of a topic about which you feel really passionate. For me, it’s animals and the planet, and I really want to use my voice for that. I want to break the insecurities that little kids and women have when we see other women on social media having these amazing lives and these amazing bodies, that’s very important to me. I think that it’s the biggest reason that I do what I do. If God, or whomever controls my life, gave me this opportunity, I’m going to use it to try to make a change in the world. It’s the only thing that I can do with this amazing life that I have. I need to do something in return for the world. I want to be a mother, eventually, and I want to have kids, and I want my kids to live in a wonderful, kind, green world.
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¡Hola! This is a little reminder that although we all look cute, and healthy and happy on social media the truth is that we all go through highs and lows and this, ladies and gentleman, is one of my lows: 57 hours after taking my wisdom teeth out. Let’s make social media a more truthful and honest place where everybody feels welcome and safe. . Yes, I’m Kiko, I have a horrible breath and I’m the grumpiest woman in Los Angeles right now… and that’s ok ❤️
BT: I heard that there will be some sort of after show for Deadly Class.
MGDF: Definitely. After each show we have some sort of “get to meet the cast”, in which we talk about that particular episode and how it felt to shoot it and all the challenges it had. I will be live tweeting after every episode and during the episode with the fans too. It’s so great to share these experiences with them and answer their questions as they watch the show. It’s something that I love that other shows do, so I will definitely be live tweeting with every episode.
BT: Who would be a part of your personal Deadly Class and would you train them to be assassins?
MGDF: No, definitely not training them to be assassins, but maybe pacifists, like really! [laughs] Definitely I will teach them yoga and meditation, but I would definitely recruit Lana Condor, I would definitely recruit Thom Yorke (of Radiohead) because I love the guy, hmmmmm… Benedict Wong, who cracks me up and I love him. [laughs] Rick Remender, I don’t believe that he would love my classes, he would be very, very bored and it would be very awkward [laughs] and I wouldn’t be training them to be assassins.
Deadly Class premieres on Wednesday January 16 at 10pm ET on Space and Syfy. For more on the show, read our interview with Benjamin Wadsworth!