“Surround yourself with people who are good for your mental health” with Hollywood’s Maria Darkina
I recently spent time with Maria Darkina to learn more about her growing career and the challenges she’s faced along the way.
From her first film in 1998, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Maria has continued to pursue her dream of acting regardless of the hurdles she’s faced.
Thank you so much for joining us, Maria!
Let’s show everyone you’re a normal human being.
What are your hobbies, favorite places to visit, pet peeves? Tell us about YOU when you’re not at the office.
“Hobbies include any sort of activity you can think of: ground and water sports, jet skiing, archery, horseback riding, martial arts, painting, exploring new places/ cities/ countries, finding great coffee spots, hiking, music and poetry.
“My favorite places would be anything by the sea or ocean. I love Japan, Bali, Thailand, Hawaii, Portofino, Italy — those are the places that I would love to return to one day.
“Pet peeves, I don’t have any.”
Can you tell us something about you that few people know?
“I was a punk rocker once; played a guitar and sang in a band where we performed our own songs at different venues. Linkin Park, Green Day, Nirvana, Sum 41, My Chemical Romance…that was my style.
“At 14, you’d never see me without black eyeliner covering the entire eye, and wearing spike bracelets and necklaces. My dad still remembers those days with a laugh.”
Do you have any exciting projects going on right now?
“Yes! I am working on an independent feature film to be shot in October.
“The film is a very artsy, unique style of film with an interesting worldly story. We have amazing artists involved, too.”
Many people say success correlates with the people you meet in your life. Can you describe two that most impacted your success and why.
“Those were one of my first acting teachers — Lilian Malkina, and a well-known director, Emir Kusturica.
“Both taught me to appreciate and have respect for my craft, and for the final creation itself, and to trust my instincts as an artist because that creates my own unique voice; and to stand in my own power because it takes strength and courage to create from the heart, for everyone else to see.
“Also, to have love and compassion for people because that’s who eventually we do that for — the audience and to make something that touches people’s hearts we must first learn to understand them, and ourselves mainly. To be open to the world, to communication and to listen to others — that’s how we expand our knowledge of the world and how we connect to the universal language of humanity and follow whatever purpose we have chosen for ourselves in that field. Having a strong reason why, and enjoying what we do, is what feeds our passion and leads to success.
“That reason and the lessons I mentioned have allowed me to never see failure but learn the lesson so that I can continue my personal mission.”
Can you discuss one of the lowest points in your life personally or professionally and how you dealt with it.
“I remember the time I almost gave up my acting career. I stopped seeing the point of it. It seemed like a never-ending struggle and being very far away from family didn’t help. It felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore, like I lost hope in my dream coming true.
“So, I started this crazy ‘search for self’ journey, ranging from brainwashing courses (yes, scary brainwashing!), to spiritual practices, self-help books, going to Bali and praying in the holy waters of the ancient springs, facing my fear of heights and the ocean. I wanted to join the army at some point, too.
“After a series of heartbreaking events, of extreme experiences that made me see how precious life is, I stopped because I realized I didn’t need to go far to find me and my drive or passion. It was right here all of this time. All the answers were right here, inside of me. The drive, and the joy of doing anything, comes from me — it’s a choice.
“What I also needed to learn is to trust myself, my intuition, trust the divine timing, and I had to realize that I have the power over my life and I can make happen anything I want to.”
Leaders always seem to find ways to overcome their weaknesses. Can you share one or two examples of how you work outside of your comfort zone to achieve success?
“I like to stretch my limits and face my fears. Whether that be skydiving or traveling to a new place by myself or taking risks in my work as an actor — meaning going for the scary choice instead of the safe one, finding human qualities that are atypical to me, risking my heart in a scene, allowing myself and my heart to be truly seen by the audience.”
The concept of mind over matter has been around for years. A contemporary description of this is having mental toughness. Can you give us an example (or two) of obstacles you’ve overcome by getting your mind in the right place (some might call this reframing the situation)?
“There was a situation when I pulled a stranger out of a fight in a music venue. He was getting beaten up for no reason, so morally, I felt like I had to do something because nobody was. There are many fears than can go through one’s mind at that time, especially a young woman, but I had to act quickly.
“That’s something that I follow in any situation — we must just do it, responsibly, of course. But do commit; make the decision. Over-thinking or imagining the worst isn’t going to help. Do not psyche yourself out. If you’re already wasting the time on imagining the outcome of the situation, why not imagine the best?”
What are your “3 Lessons I Learned from My Most Memorable Failure”
“First, I believe that any so called ‘failure’ is a lesson in disguise; it’s new information, it’s experience. It’s up to us how we decide to see the situation; we’re the ones who give it a label.
“Second, trust that everything happens for a reason. What we see is a piece of a puzzle, but not the whole picture just yet. Plus there is always a chance to try again.
“And lastly, have no expectations of the final result because that often doesn’t depend on us. Remember, there is no limit to perfection. You can still do your best and have no expectations, enjoying what you’re doing and taking it from moment to moment, letting go and allowing it to become what it needs to be.”
What unfiltered advice can you give aspiring stars regarding how to avoid common mis-fires in starting their career?
“Find out about yourself, experience life, travel and gather information. There’s nothing that can prepare you for what’s to come, but having that strong stem inside of you, the wisdom and the knowledge is what will help you with any decision.
“Also, surround yourself with people who are good for your mental health, who feed your fire and who make you feel good. Support is essential.”
What is the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?
“I was lucky with my bosses because they were all professionals and great human beings. The lesson I learned is to be able to respect myself and my needs, to respect others, and always find the golden mean. “
What is one “efficiency hack” you use consistently in your life to keep your time and mind free to focus on your strengths and passions?
“Meditation. Whether I can give myself just five minutes in the morning, that’s okay. It allows me to center myself and gain clarity in my mind — which later helps me to see and feel the next right steps and the most efficient way to accomplish my goals. Basically, how to work smarter and stay at peace. It really improves the productivity.”
What’s on the drawing board for your next venture?
“I have another film project I’m developing, but meanwhile I want to take some time to travel and visit the place to where my heart’s been always calling me.”
What did we miss? Feel free to share any other thoughts or advice on overcoming failure, initiatives you’re currently supporting, any other relevant information you would like to share with the readers.
“An amazing book I’ve read — The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It was one of the ‘experiences’ that changed my life for good and made me find what I’ve been looking for. The book is exactly that — a profound experience. It’s a journey towards the truth and peace.”
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Instagram — @mariadarkina