Maya Hawke is surely part of Hollywood royalty. She’s the daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, after all. That said, she has been mostly shielded from the spotlight by her protective parents. But Maya is all grown up now, and she’s ready to take the world by storm.
Maya was born at the height of her parents’ fame in the late 1990s. With that in mind, she practically grew up on film sets and backstage at theatres. Though Maya apparently never thought that she would follow in her mom and dad’s footsteps. Nevertheless, it seemed that fate would have other plans for the talented youngster.
As many of you know, Maya has entered the spotlight herself for the first time. Though she has faced a barrage of comparisons to her parents. In particular, many column inches have already been dedicated to the fact that she looks so similar to her mom. But Uma apparently had some reservations when it came to her daughter’s decision to become a public figure.
Maya was born in July 1998 and was both Uma and Ethan’s first child. The celebrity couple had met while starring in the science-fiction flick Gattaca, which had come out a year earlier. And by that time, both were already big stars in their own right. Ethan had enjoyed cult success with his 1994 film Reality Bites, while that same year Uma received an Oscar nomination for her performance in Pulp Fiction.
So needless to say, Uma and Ethan were both big names in Hollywood before they got together. Theirs was a whirlwind romance and they married in 1998 – reportedly just months after they’d first met. That same year their first child Maya arrived, who was born in New York City.
Uma and Ethan welcomed another child – a boy named Levon Thurman Hawke – in 2002. But their union was not to last. Sadly, the couple separated a year later and divorced in 2005. The surprise split came amid rumors that Ethan had been unfaithful. But Uma later claimed that they were both responsible for the breakdown of the relationship.
In Uma’s first interview after her divorce, Oprah Winfrey asked about the rumors regarding Ethan’s alleged infidelity. The actress replied, “There was some stuff like that at the end. We were having a difficult time, and you know how the axe comes down and how people behave and how people express their unhappiness. Our marriage failed. I should take full responsibility for the failure of my own marriage.”
In her chat with Oprah, Uma also said she was eager to keep things civil with Ethan for her kids’ sake. She explained, “I think that that’s such a priority to protect them and to never lose sight of the fact that even if you’re in a fight, or even if things are going badly, it’s in their best interests that everybody comes out okay.”
As you might imagine, Maya’s parents tried to shield her from their split. But she can remember the press intrusion her family faced at the time. In March 2020 Maya told the British music publication NME, “There were days when things were traumatic, like when my parents went through their divorce, and having all that stuff out in public was incredibly painful.”
Aside from the occasional red carpet event, Uma and Ethan tried to keep Levon and Maya out of the spotlight growing up. In 2017 the latter told British Vogue that her famous parents “really protected the sanctity of my childhood. [They] really allowed me to be vulnerable and unseen, and I’m very grateful for that.”
So, Maya’s childhood was kept fairly private. Though she was often a behind-the-scenes observer of her parents’ careers. She would accompany them to film sets and theater – watching them as they delivered their performances. Understandably, it seems that such experiences had a profound effect on the youngster.
Maya told NME, “My favourite place to be was on set, behind the camera with headphones on, watching the monitors while my mum and dad did the same scene 100 times over from different angles – just sitting and learning.” But acting was not the youngster’s only passion.
Growing up, music also played a major role in Maya’s life – thanks to her father’s influence. She told NME, “There’d be an Elvis playlist, or a Beatles playlist, or a Madonna playlist. Or a, ‘These are the songs I was listening to when I was your age’ playlist or a, ‘This is what I think you’re going through’ playlist.”
Music and her parents’ work seemed to provide some degree of escapism for Maya, though she faced difficulties related to her dyslexia growing up. In September 2020 she told NPR that she wouldn’t claim to “suffer” from the condition. But she did admit it posed problems to her education growing up.
Maya described her experience with dyslexia as “one of the great blessings of my life in a lot of ways.” But she added, “I did get, like, kicked out of school for not being able to read when I was a kid. And I went to a special school for kids with learning disabilities. And it took me a long time to learn how to read, and I still am limited.”
Partly as a result of her dyslexia, Maya attended more than one of New York City’s private schools. At this point, she had no plans to follow in the footsteps of her famous folks, though it was theater that remained the one constant in her educational experience. But acting was just a hobby for Maya back then.
In fact, Maya ended up choosing Amherst as her first choice when it came to applying for colleges. The educational institution is one of the most prestigious liberal arts schools in the country. But in April 2020 Maya told Nylon magazine that she applied “because of a weird obsession with Massachusetts and David Foster Wallace.”
Maya sadly didn’t get the SAT scores she needed to attend Amherst. But it was then that she decided to apply for drama schools – eventually gaining a place at The Juilliard School. And it was this turn of events that set Maya on the path to stardom.
After just one year at Juilliard, Maya landed a role in the BBC’s 2017 adaptation of Little Women over in the U.K. She would play Jo March – starring alongside acting heavyweights like Emily Watson and Angela Lansbury. Playing the strong-willed but curious protagonist seemed like a perfect match for Maya, who has since called the character one of the most influential in her life.
Strangely enough, Little Women had a personal significance in Maya’s life. It was, in fact, the first book she completed as a youngster. And the accomplishment was particularly special to Maya on account of her dyslexia. She later told British Vogue, “When you’re growing up with a learning disability, it shoots your confidence and belief in what you can accomplish academically. It really damages it.”
Following the Little Women gig, Maya decided to drop out of school and pursue a career in acting, just like her mom and dad had done. It was 2019 that turned out to be the first standout year in her burgeoning career. Maya landed a part in Quentin Tarantino’s film Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood as well as the reoccurring role of Robin Buckley in Netflix’s Stranger Things.
Maya’s career was now taking off, and many column inches were subsequently dedicated to her famous family. In particular, much was made about the young starlet’s undeniable likeness to her mom: Uma. The pair seemed to share the same doe eyes, sharp bone structure and natural pout. In fact, it’s been pointed out that the talented mother and daughter even sound alike.
And Maya even seemed to welcome the comparisons being made to her parents. She told British Vogue, “I’m not interested in hiding from the fact that my parents are actors. I’m proud of them! It’s very ordinary to pursue a career that your parents do, but when it’s in the public eye it becomes a complicated thing.”
Maya was all too aware that the interest in her unique parentage was not exactly a disadvantage. The budding actress explained, “I am not in denial about the fact that if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be here today. I’ve thought a lot about how to deal with that, and one way was to not take any opportunity unless I was absolutely positive that I’d earned every scrap of it.”
Maya acknowledged the privileges that came with having famous parents again in her interview with Nylon. She said, “I’m well aware that every part I get is somehow influenced by the history of who I am as a person and where I come from. I’m a not-that-famous, not-that-successful young actress, but if I get cast in something, it will get PR.”
Maya added that “from a producer’s point of view” her parentage was “a huge advantage.” She explained, “It was a massive leg up in getting an agent and a manager. All these sorts of extra things that people don’t think about when they think of people getting roles. My upbringing plays a part in all those interactions, all those moments, all that reasoning.”
Uma and Ethan’s fame may have opened some doors for Maya in her early career. But the former’s experience in the movie industry made Uma cautious about her daughter entering that same world. With that in mind, she had tried to warn Maya about some of the pitfalls that can come with fame.
Of course, Uma is no stranger to the darker side of Hollywood herself. In 2018 at the height of the #MeToo movement, the actress claimed that she’d been sexually assaulted by the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein. And in her interview with Nylon, Maya revealed that her mom’s experience in the movie industry influenced how she felt about her daughter’s acting ambitions.
Maya explained, “My mom understands in a different way from my dad how difficult that is. Because the voices are not as strong, the whispers are not as strong in men’s ears.” She added, “Because this industry is so much tougher on women, my mom had reservations about me not becoming an actor, but becoming a public figure.”
So what did Uma tell her daughter specifically? Well, she tried to make Maya aware of how the movie business was particularly hard on women. The young actress revealed that she was told, “The emphasis that the business puts on your appearance, the emphasis the business puts on your age — on all sorts of things that have nothing to do with your ability to act.”
In the end, though, it seems that Uma just wanted Maya to stay in control of her own destiny. The latter explained how the star had told her to ensure that “you make the choices you want to make. And that you follow your gut and your instinct and the projects that mean something to you, and that you don’t get trapped in the starlet tornado. That you don’t value about yourself the things that the business tells you.”
Maya appeared to appreciate her mom’s advice, though she felt that Hollywood had changed a lot since Uma and Ethan had risen to fame. What’s more, the actress claimed that she had seen that shift with her own eyes. She told Nylon that, in her parents’ day, movie stars were the real deal, but that’s not the case so much now.
Maya explained, “It just used to be more glamorous. It’s not so glamorous anymore. There’s almost no such thing as a movie star anymore. There can be an appearance of one for a second. Now there’s a bajillion actors with the following. It’s a lot more everyman.” But even if it’s not as easy to dominate Hollywood as it once was, it appears that Maya wants to give it her best shot.
So, what has Maya been up to in 2020? Well, she continued to film season four of Stranger Things, and the actress also took the leading role in Gia Coppola’s movie Mainstream. Away from acting, the singer-songwriter also released her first album: Blush. Speaking of her soft, acoustic style, Maya told Nylon that her sound was “definitely not party music.”
Maya’s burgeoning movie and music career suggests that the future looks bright for the young star. And no one was more proud of the actress’ achievements than her famous family. In January 2020 while promoting his series Showtime, her dad Ethan told an audience that seeing his daughter’s success was “one of the great honors of my life.”
Speaking of Maya’s talent, Ethan added, “It’s shocking. I knew when she was a kid that she was – I felt that she was an artist really [early on] and I have a feeling that she’s… she’s a substantive human being. And it keeps my life interesting and exciting to try to be the person that she wants me to be.”
Naturally, there’s nothing quite like a father’s pride. But Maya had equally nice things to say about her famous father when asked by Nylon. She described Ethan as “brilliant and sort of a philosopher himself.” The actress added that her dad was “a loving father who really wants me to become my best self and is supportive and encouraging and has high standards all at the same time.”
Yet the gushing comments didn’t stop there. Maya also described her mom Uma as “nurturing and loving and inspiring and safe and powerful.” Meanwhile, she called her brother Levon a “passive optimist,” as opposed to an “aggressive optimist,” which, it turns out, is how she saw herself.
As Ethan and Maya’s comments seemed to demonstrate, there was plenty of affection between the Thurman-Hawke clan. The young actress told British Vogue, “I really love my family.” And while she’s eager to carve a path for herself without relying on her famous parents, she’s all too happy to share her success with them.
Maya explained, “The more independence that I get and the more freedom that I have, the more interested I am in being a dedicated and involved family member. My family is really supportive. We fight and we talk and we lie and we tell the truth – not usually in that order – and I really enjoy growing with them and fostering that dynamic.”