The 19-year-old has been acting in her native Australia for years now, but 2013 is sure to be her breakout year Stateside. Not only did she land a major role in what's been called the next "High School Musical," but she also snagged a big part alongside Jake T. Austin in the new family drama "The Fosters."
Maia stopped by Teen Vogue to chat about working with two of Young Hollywood's coolest guys, learning to stay grounded from JLo, and being a tomboy at heart.
So what's your character like in "Teen Beach Movie?"
I play Mackenzie, a super chill surfer girl tomboy—which I think is really cool for the Disney Channel. She's a guy's girl, kind of rough around the edges. She and Brady, who's played by Ross Lynch, get thrown into this crazy '60s beach movie. She wants to go home, because she needs to go to boarding school, so she's dealing with a crossroads of whether to go to boarding school and fulfill what she's obliged to do, or whether she wants to keep having fun and being young.
We talked to Ross last week, and we asked him about you. He told us, "She hugs everyone. She's very Australian." He also called you touchy—but in a good way!
He always says that! I don't even know what that means! Well, Ross is very American, so he's not a hugger. Just kidding, he's actually really cool. He's very positive and is never one to complain. He just wants to get on with it.
You act and sing in "Teen Beach Movie." Is singing something you want to pursue?
Not right now. I play guitar and write music, and that's definitely a huge part of my life, but it's my personal thing that I have for me. I want to keep it that way for now. I also haven't grown into my musicianship yet. If I were to explore music, I'd want to just focus on that and make that my priority.
We love "The Fosters!" Are you thrilled to be a part of it?
It's really exciting, because it's painting family in a whole new way. It's giving you a look into a family which, yes, is being raised by two moms, but that's not where the emphasis is. It's just a regular family like any other, which I think is really cool.
How hands-on is Jennifer Lopez as the executive producer?
She is hands-on, definitely. She comes to set when she can and makes a point of reading the scripts and giving the feedback—it's all been positive. She's really stoked with how things are going, and it's cool to hear someone with so much experience in the industry backing something you're a part of.
Has she given you any advice?
For sure! She thinks this show will do amazing things for us, but we have to stay grounded and normal. She of all people would know what it's like, as she's crazy famous. But she's really sweet, super humble, and so grounded.
On both "The Fosters" and "Teen Beach Movie," you play tomboys. Is that how you are in real life?
I can be. If I'm in work mode and going to meetings, I'll make an effort and dress up, but when I'm at home or just chilling, I'm in beanies and jeans and sneakers. It's fun to play dress up for work, but when you have those off-days, it's nice to just be low-key.
Do you have anything else coming up?
I have a tiny tiny part in The Philosophers, an independent film I did. I wanted to do that movie because I was just out of high school and wanted to work with Sophie Lowe and Reese Wakefield, these Australian actors. He's been a heartthrob over there for, like, ever, so I really wanted to work with him. It's very "Sucker Punch"-y.
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