Maura Stephens Reveals Insights on Career, Image and Her Love For Horror
Maura Stephens’ many characters are in a growing number of horror short films. Much of these productions have a brief running time. Sometimes, under one minute. Following the interview, we present Stephens’ video portfolio.
Below is a list of the films featured below.
The Other Woman
Super Sexy Slumber Party Scissor Time
In our exclusive interview, Stephens gives insight on her career and she also delves into her new film Placebo. This production has a powerful social commentary on body perception. Stephens explains how intimate this performance was regarding her eating disorder she had conquered.
Interview questions composed by David Teixeira, DecayMag Content Contributor.
DecayMag: What encouraged you to become an actor?
Maura Stephens: Growing up I was painfully shy but found comfort in being a clown with my four sisters – even if I wasn’t at ease being in my own skin more often than not, I could come out of my shell while putting on a funny voice and playing a character. It was always the one thing I felt sure of, and I’m grateful I’ve had a lot of people who have supported it throughout the years. I remember my mom coming home with Arthur Miller plays and various books on acting for me. I lost her when I was seventeen, but I know that if she has a way of watching me right now, she is getting a kick out of the fact that I’m going for it. She’s one of my main motivations.
“It has always been a part of who I am, so finding myself pursuing acting was this natural thing”.
DecayMag: I’ve checked out your portfolio and you seem pretty interested in acting in horror. What influences your decision to go through this path? Has it been always a dream to work in horror?
Maura Stephens: I love horror. The original Woman in Black from the ‘80s–which I feel is an underrated gem–gave me many a’nightmare as a kid, but I also learned how exciting it was to be scared by horror films. That rush of ‘this feels horrifying and dangerous but I’m actually safe at home in my pizza onesie’. I love going on that ride and now, as an actor, helping to put people on that ride.
DecayMag: What attracts you to the genre?
Maura Stephens: I think it’s the genre where I feel most like we’re all kids in a playground. It’s funny how it all seems intense when you’re watching it, but more often than not we’re all having so much joy and laughter during the experience. I also feel it’s a very cathartic genre. I find comfort in strange worlds. Give me The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari over a “chick flick” any day.
“There’s this particular heightened level of imagination and creation that comes with making a horror film and I really relish diving deep with everyone.”
DecayMag: Glad you reached out to us for this interview, I’ve been a fan of your work with director Andrew J.D. Robinson. What can you share, your experience working with him? How it all came together?
Maura Stephens: That means a lot, thank you. We met through the film scene seven years ago and instantly clicked. I’ve been a fan of his brainchildren since we met and we always knew Beauty Sleep would only be the start of our film adventures together. He’s the cream in my coffee, the salt in my stew.
“It was always our plan to take over the world together Pinky and the Brain style”.
DecayMag: Placebo is still one of my favorites shorts from Robinson. What is your interpretation of the message it shares with the viewer? Do you think beauty and the superficial search of being perfect is still a problem nowadays? Or is it fading away?
Maura Stephens: I’m happy you dug Placebo. I loved the concept right away when he told me about it and it’s great to see people clicking with the film. Unrelenting beauty standards are definitely very prevalent still. This is a topic very close to my heart as someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder, which is something I speak publicly about.
I understood my character’s body dysmorphia because I’ve certainly had my own version of it with seeing a warped image of my body. It’s an illusion that feels very real and creates very real problems. I’m happy with what is happening with the body positive movement, there are some really inspiring and badass people talking about what’s really important and trying to help to shed this idea that we have to fit a particular mold. I hope to contribute to the cause in many different ways.
“I learned the search for perfection is a black hole. The very concept of perfection is a gross disservice to anyone’s psyche”.
DecayMag: What are your thoughts on the business nowadays? Do you think women are getting more powerful roles?
Maura Stephens: The films I tend to gravitate towards since I was young have often contained interesting, strong roles for women. But if I’m holding them up next to all the powerful male roles out there, yes, there is an imbalance — especially in terms of mainstream films, there is definitely room for more layered, dynamic roles for females.
DecayMag: What role would you be interested in doing in horror or in any other genre?
Maura Stephens: The Shakespeare nerd in me immediately thought of Lady Macbeth. Her darkness has always fascinated me. But there are so many different roles and genres I would love to sink my teeth into. I’d love to do more “character acting” and comedy.
“There are many sides of myself I still haven’t really shown yet”.
DecayMag: Have you encountered any challenges throughout your career that was difficult to achieve?
Maura Stephens: What first comes to mind for me in terms of challenges is honestly just having the courage to really give this a go. I had a lot of self-doubt. And again, it’s that search for perfection. It can make you forget how enjoyable the process of learning and playing is, and instead you’re unfairly judging yourself with every step. It’s okay to not be perfect. No one is. It’s okay to have a rusty moment. Breathe and keep going. Now it’s so much more fun and free.
“Shedding that old skin and learning to embrace whatever comes and to trust my instincts was huge for me”.
DecayMag: I’ve watched your mini-shorts for 15-second horror and they’re really interesting, fresh and new. Did you come up with some of the ideas yourself?
Maura Stephens: I’m glad you dug them! I made three shorts myself for 15 Second Horror Film Challenge. Ottoline, Super Sexy Slumber Party Scissor Time!, and Nobody Here But Us Chickens. I’ve written a few others that I hope to shoot when the timing is right. It’s a lot of fun coming up with concepts and creepy punchlines to fit within a 15-second timeframe.
DecayMag: Would you consider working behind the camera?
Maura Stephens: I love being behind the camera. I’ve done a lot of photography work and some video work under the name Brute Waltz, so being behind the camera is a happy place for me. I have a lot of ideas I would love to bring to life once they have finished marinating in my noggin.
DecayMag: Would you consider working on a feature in the near future?
Maura Stephens: Definitely. I have a real soft spot for short films, but I would love to experience spending a longer period of time in the skin of a character and having even more meat to play with. I always crave more time with my short film characters – once you get in the zone with them you don’t want to part ways just yet.
DecayMag: Please share your future projects and any personal links so that the readers can follow your work.
I’ve got a new horror short I’ll be working on soon by Andrew J.D. Robinson where I play a 911 dispatcher. It will co-star Erin Kiniry (from Mitchell Slan’s award-winning short Balloon), and is a brilliant script. Excited for that one, and I think you guys will dig it. Personal links wise, you can find me on: