If you've watched Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, you probably ended up wondering: Who is Maria Bakalova? The 24-year-old actor starred alongside Sacha Baron-Cohen in his buzzy, spoof-y comedy, which picked up with fictional journalist Borat Sagdiyev as he once again traveled from the country of Kazakhstan to explore the United States. In the 2020 sequel, Bakalova played Borat's 15-year-old daughter Tutar and practically stole the whole film away in the process. She's bound to be a major comedy star in the years to come, and these facts about Borat's Maria Bakalova will have you even more fascinated by her.
Cohen announced the surprise release of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm back in October 2020 and the film hit Amazon just days before the U.S. presidential election. Following his 2006 film, the sequel saw Borat set off to the States again, this time traveling with his daughter to deliver a gift to Vice President Mike Pence. Together, the duo pranked Americans into revealing some of the most problematic aspects of the country. For example: the now-infamous scene in which Tutar posed as a journalist and interviewed Rudy Giuliani, who took her back to his hotel room and did some... questionable things on camera.
Bakalova seemingly managing to trick the former president's lawyer while in character was a big news story, but just as noteworthy is the young actor's rising Hollywood stardom. TBH, it seems like starring in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and earning a 2021 Golden Globe nom will only be the start of her exciting career. Here's what else to know about her:
1. She’s from Bulgaria.
Bakalova is from Burgas, Bulgaria, and studied at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts. She came to the U.S. for the first time while filming Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and now lives in Los Angeles.
2. 'Borat' was her first big role.
Bakalova started acting professionally in 2015 and had small parts in numerous Bulgarian TV shows and short films before making it big with Borat.
“There are almost no leading characters for actors from my background or actors who have a foreign accent, so to be given this platform to perform and show what I can do really means the world to me,” she wrote on Instagram on Oct. 23, 2020.
3. She's a talented musician.
Bakalova is truly a triple threat. Apart from acting, she's also a singer and flautist. She even double-majored in flute at school.
4. She already has an acting award.
Although Bakalova mainly had smaller roles before appearing in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, she has been recognized for her acting skills before. In 2018, she won an award for Best Female Role at the Toronto Film Festival for her role in the Bulgarian drama Transgression.
5. She's an animal lover.
Bakalova's Instagram is filled with sweet pet tributes, from celebrating International Cat Day with her kitty to dancing with a Pomeranian. In particular, her dog Steve gets plenty of cuddly shoutouts.
6. She's a dedicated activist.
Although she's currently living stateside, Bakalova has been outspoken about ongoing Bulgarian protests against government corruption. The actor has shared multiple posts on Instagram, standing with the protestors and advocating for change.
7. She had never seen the original Borat before getting the part.
During a Nov. 13 interview on Variety's podcast Award Circuit, Bakalova admitted she didn't see the original Borat when it came out in 2006 (to be fair, she was a kid at the time). Bakalova was actually more familiar with Cohen for his dramatic work and had seen him in the Netflix show The Spy. “I couldn’t stop watching it, he’s doing something unbelievable there,” she said. “He’s genius. He’s incredible.”
8. She's starring in a Judd Apatow pandemic comedy.
Bakalova's future in Hollywood is looking bright. On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Variety reported she would star alongside Pedro Pascal and Fred Armisen in Judd Apatow's upcoming Netflix pandemic comedy, The Bubble. "I'm sooo grateful that I'm going to work with these remarkable people!!! It feels like a dream!!" the actor wrote while announcing the news on Instagram. Fans will want to keep an eye on Bakalova as she continues to take over Hollywood.