Meet Maria Bakalova!
Over the weekend, fans of the beloved mockumentary comedy film Borat were reintroduced to the fictional journalist portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen and discovered the 24-year-old actress who starred as Borat's daughter Tutar in the sequel.
Hitting Amazon Prime Video over a decade after the original Borat hit theaters in 2006, the follow-up revolves around Cohen's titular character and his mission to deliver Tutar as a bride to Vice President Mike Pence. Hilarity ensues as the father-daughter duo learn all about current American political landscape and adapt to a changing world amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Cohen's performance is again being praised by critics, but it's Bakalova who gives the film's most scene-stealing performance as an unfamiliar face.
Read on for everything to know about the actress.
She is Bulgarian
According to Bakalova's IMDB page, she was born on June 4, 1996 in Burgas, Bulgari.
Later in life, she studied at the National School of Arts in Burgas, where she majored in acting for drama theater and obtained a second major in flute, IMDB adds. Following her stint there, she studied at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts in Sofia, where she graduated from in 2019.
Fans are calling for her to be nominated at the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021
Following her performance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, fans are now calling on the actress to win an award at the Oscars in 2021.
"Give #MariaBakalova a Oscar nom," one user wrote. "This is her movie and she hits every single thing thrown at her out of the park. VERYNICE!"
She is musically talented
Bakalova is also talented in other entertainment forms.
Her IMDB page adds that she started taking singing and flute lessons at the age of six.
She has won an acting award
After making her film debut in 2017's XIIa as Milena, Bakalova won for best actress at Toronto’s AltFF Alternative Film Festival in 2018 for her role as Yana in the film Transgression, according to MovieMaker.com.
Her other acting credits include 2020's Last Call and The Father from 2019.
She is an animal lover
On Bakalova's official Instagram page, the actress can be seen posing with an array of adorable pets, including her cat who she describes as a "little prince."
In another, Bakalova cuddles up closely with a furry canine companion for a loving shot.
She got her Borat 2 role from a self-taped audition
During an interview with Good Morning America on Friday, Bakalova revealed that she got her film role after self-recording her first audition.
"We started with self-tape. It was an open call. I sent another one and then I went to London, England a few times and we even started with real people in the first audition. It was crazy," she said.
She credits the Borat team for making her feel safe on set
Bakalova is at the center of the sequel's most controversial scene involving Rudy Giuliani.
In the scene, the actress poses as a journalist interviewing Giuliani. After their interview, Bakalova invites the former New York mayor into a hotel bedroom for a drink, and then tries to take off Giuliani's microphone. Giuliani, 76, is then seen leaning back onto a bed and appears to put his hand down the front of his pants. It is unclear if he's adjusting his shirt.
Appearing on Good Morning America to discuss her experience filming the Giuliani scene, she told Cohen, "I want to thank you. I was sure you were going to save me from everything." When asked her if she felt unsafe in the room with Giuliani, Bakalova said: "No, that's what I'm saying. I always felt safe with our team, with our crew, with Sacha in my corner…I never felt that I'd be in danger…that's why I'm lucky, because I had them."
Giuliani defended himself on Twitter, writing: "The Borat video is a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment. At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar."
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