Anika Noni Rose on Maid and What It Means to Her to Be a Disney Princess – Collider

She also talks about working with Margaret Qualley and how things might have turned out for her character.
From creator Molly Smith Metzler and inspired by the best-selling memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land, the Netflix series Maid follows Alex (Margaret Qualley), a single mother who escapes an abusive relationship only to find herself desperate for a better life for her daughter (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet). Taking a job cleaning houses while trying to keep from being homeless and figure out her next step, Alex’s resilience is tested every step of the way while refusing to give up on a better future.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, which you can both watch and read, Anika Noni Rose (who plays Regina, one of Alex’s housecleaning clients) talked about the emotional roller coaster that her character goes on, why Regina just really needed a hug, shooting the confrontation between Alex and Regina, and how things might have turned out for her character. She also talked about what it means to her to be a Disney princess, having gotten to voice the character of Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, and how excited she is for the upcoming re-themed ride at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Collider: Your character in this was somebody that I waned to hug, but was also afraid that she might slap me if I did. Is she someone that you found fun to play? She’s very hot and cold. Is that fun to go back and forth with, especially not knowing when it might come out?
ANIKA NONI ROSE: It can be fun to play a character that is really hot and cold, and there were moments where it was fun. Some ended up on the cutting room floor. Anytime you get to play an extreme, in that circumstance, is a great thing. There’s a moment where she’s just broken down, and it’s a really extreme moment and it becomes pretty humorous because here’s this woman and you think nothing can chip her, and she can’t handle it. She can’t get herself together. It’s interesting because, when you think of people like that, I love that you wanted to give her a hug because I think most people would not have wanted to give her a hug unless they just wanted to rub her sweater. But she needed a hug. She is someone who really, really needed a hug, so I’m glad that you saw that.
Maybe not the first time we meet her, but she does eventually seem like someone who could really use a hug.
ROSE: Mmm hmm.
RELATED: ‘Maid’ Creator Molly Smith Metzler on Telling Such an Emotionally Challenging Story and Why She Cast Margaret Qualley and Andie MacDowell
Did you know that there were going to be so many ups and downs with her, and that it would be such an emotional roller coaster?
ROSE: No, I didn’t know it was gonna be such an emotional rollercoaster. I had actually zero idea, and it was shocking to me, to read some of the things as they came up, and that it would become so layered. I just didn’t know that was gonna happen. It was quite a lovely challenge, as an actor, to have that tossed in your lap. There were a lot of surprises that came my way and I’m glad for them because I feel like that’s what happens, as a person, moving through life. Things come your way that you’re not ready for and things coming your way that are very intense. I was really glad that she didn’t stay in one zone and in one lane because that’s boring. That’s really boring.
And this is not a boring woman at all.
ROSE: No.
I actually really enjoyed the dynamic between Alex and Regina because their worlds are so different from each other. What did you most enjoy about exploring that relationship, and exploring it with Margaret Qualley? There are just so many things happening in your scenes together.
ROSE: Thank you. Well, Margaret and I really got along very well. We enjoyed each other quite a bit. We both love music. We both love arts. We laughed a lot, really. What I loved about that relationship is that they start out looking very far apart and, as you move forward, you realize that there’s not so much distance between them, aside from checkbooks. They do connect, as women. They do have a throughline with each other and they are able to speak the same language, and everybody feels the same way. If you prick them, they bleed, and I think that they had to realize that about each other, in order to come together.
RELATED: Margaret Qualley on ‘Maid,' What it Was Like Working With Her Mom Andie MacDowell, and the Show’s Beautiful Ending
I absolutely loved the moment where Alex becomes determined to stand up for herself and Regina just happens to be the person that happens with, for that scene in the parking lot when she’s returning her dog. What was that whole confrontation like to shoot?
ROSE: There was a lot happening there and it was freezing outside. I think it might have been the first or second scene that we shot, actually. It was really interesting because Margaret was still finding Alex. We were so early in the shoot and we were both finding our footing and where we were, in that space. And then, you had the other character from the shelter, who was off on the corner, whose name I can’t remember terribly and who’s phenomenal in the show. It was interesting and it was really exploration. It was wild because Margaret is six inches taller than I am. I was trying to hold my ground [while I was looking up] the whole time because she’s so tall. But it was fun. It was fun and it was silly, and that dog weighs more than you think. It was fun.
No matter what else you do, you will always be a Disney princess. What does that mean to you? What does Tiana and having had a hand in the creation of who she is mean to you?
ROSE: It still means the world to me. Tiana will be here forever. It’s a beautiful gift. It’s something that continues to touch children, which makes me deeply happy and deeply proud, at the same time. It gives me joy because I love to see their little faces light up when they figure out who the voice is. Sometimes they don’t get it. Sometimes they’re like, “I hear this voice, but you don’t look like a cartoon.” It’s a gift. It really, truly is a gift. I don’t think I’ll ever not be deeply appreciative to be able to inhabit that spot and to be able to leave that behind when I’m gone.
Are you also excited about the fact that we’ll soon get to have a Disneyland attraction themed for The Princess and the Frog? Are you like waiting to go on the ride when it’s all done?
ROSE: I cannot wait to go on the ride because I love a ride. The crazier, the better. A loop-de-loop, backwards and upside down, I’m very happy. I love Tower of Terror. I love that it’s not gonna be some little soft meander through the Bayou with the occasional mosquito noise. It’s gonna be a real ride. I think that that’s so apropos because Tiana went on a ride before becoming the princess. She had a journey and an adventure. So, I’m really excited about it and what it’s gonna turn out to be. I know the Imagineers are Gonna create something fantastic because they’re excited about it. It’s really thrilling.
I’m a scaredy cat, so I have never been on Splash Mountain before. Because I love The Princess and the Frog so much, I’m actually going to have to drag myself onto the ride and will probably clutch onto someone out of fear, but I can’t not go on it.
ROSE: Thank you so much. Thank you. I hope you enjoy it. I think it’s gonna be loads of fun.
Yeah, it’s about time that we get a ride for that film, so I’m just happy about that.
ROSE: Indeed.
What do you think Regina’s life looks like, after Alex leaves? Do you think that she got a better handle on the whole mom thing? How do you think she might be doing with that?
ROSE: I think she will have a better handle on things because I think that Regina will be less concerned with making things perfect. That’s one thing that infants teach people. It’s not gonna be perfect. Maybe you’re gonna have throw-up on your shirt. I’m going to poop, at the least opportune moment. I’m gonna be awake when you wanna be asleep. There’s no room for perfection in there. I think that’ll make Regina much looser and much happier. I think it’s gonna fulfill her in a very different way because it will be something that she cannot control and won’t want to control. That’s what I think. Now, the house might be a mess because it’s a big house, but I think that it will matter less to her. That’s my hope.
Maid is available to stream at Netflix.
She also talks about her hope for what happens with these characters beyond the end of the season.
Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter at Collider. Having worked at Collider for over a decade (since 2009), her primary focus is on film and television interviews with talent both in front of and behind the camera. She is a theme park fanatic, which has lead to covering various land and ride openings, and a huge music fan, for which she judges life by the time before Pearl Jam and the time after. She is also a member of the Critics Choice Association and the Television Critics Association.

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