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Popular Girl: Maria Sten

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Oct 6, 2020

For a series that has yet to officially premiere, DC’s Swamp Thing is already making waves and receiving critical acclaim for its representation within the LGBTQIA+ community. At the center of the show is Maria Sten a.k.a. Liz Tremayne a local bartender and reporter.

The show circles through, you guessed it, a swamp that holds a few more secrets than appears at the surface. Opposite Crystal Reed, this DC Universe show was initially canceled just after the initial premiere of its pilot, but thanks to the fans the show is now taking off and its new home on the CW Network. 

It wasn’t always chasing down stories for this reporter extraordinaire. Before her acting career officially took off, Maria was a previous beauty queen competing in pageants globally and even rising to Miss Denmark where she went on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.  On her current path she is known for taking thrilling roles within projects like ‘Channel Zero’ and When It Burns. She is also discovering passions behind the camera as she dives into the world of directing, writing, and producing.

Keep writing to find out what initially drew this actress to the role of Liz, the backstory of some of her personal projects, and what’s next.

 

1. Tell us about your character Liz Tremayne in ‘Swamp Thing’.  

Liz is a homegrown small town gal reporter who, unlike most people around her, opted to  stay in the town of Marais. I think she likes the idea of familiarity, of being a ‘smart’ fish  in a small pond, and of being close to her father. Liz is very grounded. When everything  seems to be out of control, Liz seems like the kind of woman who just rolls up her sleeves  and does what needs doing. She’s also incredibly loyal and honest and tells it like it is,  which is what I like the most about her.  

2. What initially drew you to the show?  

Probably Liz. I loved the way she was written. I read the pages and I just instantly knew what  I wanted to do with her as a character. That’s when you know the writing is good, which  was the second thing that drew me to the show. I also love the world of Swamp Thing, and  somehow the show feels more relevant now than ever before, so it’s really exciting to be a  part of that.  

3. How do you get in the headspace every day to play Liz?  

Liz and I do have some similarities, so there are parts of me that are a part of Liz, like her  archness, I’d say. She likes to smirk at the world a bit, and she speaks her mind. But then  there are other things that are much more foreign to me, such as her choosing to stay in  her small hometown. I am quite the opposite of that so it was an interesting journey to  settle into that mindset. I just started talking to locals from small towns, particularly  young women of color who had grown up in the south, in order to be able to appreciate it,  as well as understand the hardships of it.  

4. Did you have to go through any specific training for the role?  

I didn’t. Again, I think when the world is going absolutely crazy all around her, Liz feels like  the character that grounds us again, so she’s pretty straight forward. I did do a lot of  research on what it’s like to be an investigative reporter in this day and age, particularly  as a woman. That was part of my character work going in.  

5. Fans rallied for the show to keep it going. What is it like being a part of a show that means  so much to people?  

It’s so special to be a part of something that people are so excited about. Obviously the DC  brand also carries its own weight and there’s a big responsibility that comes with  bringing such a fan favorite of a comic to life, so it’s really wonderful when it’s received  with that kind of support. I’m very grateful for that. 

6. Favorite DC character?  

Um, Liz Tremayne. Obviously. Liz is my gal :)  

7. How was the filming of ‘Channel Zero’ different from ‘Swamp Thing’? 

They’re both horror shows, but they’re very different in tone, so it was interesting to get that  variation after having just come off of Channel Zero (The Dream Door). And then the  scope is different. Swamp Thing is massive in terms of a production scale — they built an  actual swamp on a sound stage, it was epic! — and it also has a huge ensemble cast,  whereas Channel Zero was a smaller production with a smaller cast, which then allowed  for a wonderful sense of camaraderie and intimacy amongst us. On Channel Zero, we  just felt like a group of friends who went off to Canada to make a TV show together,  which is truly the best kind of feeling to have working on a show. But in that regard, the  Swamp family has also become a tight knit group with that same kind of camaraderie so I  think I’ve just been incredibly fortunate with the jobs I’ve landed. I’m really trying not to  break the spell :)  

8.You also have directing, writing, and producing credits. What got you into those areas of  the industry?  

When I first started out as an actor, I got a lot of ‘no’s and a lot of ‘she’s great, but she’s not  quite right for this role.’ And I just got tired of sitting around waiting for other people to  tell me when I could and could not get to tell stories, so I started doing it myself. I love  telling stories. Regardless of which hat — or how many hats — I’m wearing, it’s about  going out there to express yourself and if you can, hopefully try to say something that  matters. Making your own content is also a great way to get a sense of every aspect of  what it takes to make a film or a TV show, which I think only makes you a better  collaborator. You have a better sense of what your producer, writer, director, production  designer or first Assistant Director is going through at any given moment because you’ve  been on the other side. I think that facilitates a good amount of empathy on set.  

9.What can you tell us about the backstory behind ‘When It Burns’ and ‘Wild Things Run  Free’?  

When It Burns was my first short that I wrote, directed, produced and starred in. I had just  come out of a very unhealthy relationship when I started working on that and I think it  was my way of working through my own stuff, and hopefully give other people an  opportunity to remember that whatever they’re going through, they’re not alone in it. As  for Wild Things Run Free, that was a spoken word poem I wrote many years ago, and I  decided to turn it into a kind of ‘visual poem’, if you will, to experiment in a different  medium, and again, to share in case there is someone out there who can relate to what  the poem is about. 

10.Congratulations on becoming a Miss Denmark and making it to the Miss Universe  pageant. What did you learn from that experience?  

Thank you! I learned how to put on fake eyelashes! True story, haha. That’s not all of course,  I also got to spend a month in Vietnam with 79 super smart and talented women from  around the world. I learned about their lives, about Vietnamese culture and history and  made some great friends. And I think for me, it was also a crash course in public  appearance. I was 18 at the time, and I’m from Denmark and in Denmark, no one really  cares if you’re Miss Denmark, so that in itself was a brand new world to step into.  

11.What is the timeline on your path to dancing, modeling and acting?  

I’ve been a performer in one regard or another my whole life and one kind of expression has  always weaved into, or replaced another, but in my adult life, I was dancing and  modeling for quite a few years before I committed to acting. Even after I committed to  acting, I still worked as a dancer and model before I booked my first acting job. I have a  need to be in my body and work with my body, I think. I was an athlete as a child as well.  The feeling I have when I’m working with my body is probably when I feel the most alive.  

12.What is something most people don’t know about you?  

I have a tattoo of a scorpion on my right hip, because… you guessed it: I’m a Scorpio!  

13.What is a dream role or project for you?  

That’s a tough one to answer because there are so many. I’m a history nerd so I love period  pieces. And I love ‘worlds’. I would love to play Cleopatra. And I’d sign up for anything  Chloé Zhao is directing. But I also love just opening up a script and be blown away by a  good story. That makes me wanna be a part of telling it. And of course, stories that  matter. Lending a voice to underrepresented communities and servicing all the incredible  untold stories of marginalized people that are out there, that to me is probably one of the  strongest reasons for wanting to do a project.  

14.Tell us a secret?  

But then I would have to kill you…….  

15.Can you tell us about any other projects coming out?  

I’m currently working as a writer on David E Kelley’s new show on ABC called Big Sky,  which airs November 17th. I’m basically just shanghaiing your Tuesday evenings. I love the world this show is set in and David E Kelley is a genius, so I’m excited about this one  too! It’s also been great to spend some time creating on the opposite side of the camera.

 

Find the actress on Instagram @mariasten and tonight on the CW premiere of Swamp Thing at 8/7c.

 

Credits

  • Photographer Maria Sten