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WOMEN WE LOVE: Maya Erskine

Written by Tal Israeli. Published: March 03 2024


Whether as the epitome of cool in a gorgeous gown or painfully awkward in a retainer and a bowl cut, Maya Erskine can do it all. Her recent turn as Jane Smith alongside Donald Glover in Prime Video's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" reboot has brought much deserved mainstream attention to the actress, but Maya’s talent is nothing new. Let’s look back at Maya’s path from her beginnings to the powerhouse star she is on and off-screen today!




Maya was born in L.A. to a Japanese mother and an American father and went on to study Experimental Theater at NYU. Starting out on the stage, she performed in productions as part of the infamous East-West Players and at the notable Geffen Playhouse. Maya transitioned to the screen with roles in short films and TV shows like "Somewhere a Son" and "Hart of Dixie". Her first starring role on the small screen came in 2013 as techie Mikki in Prime Video’s "Beta", giving a hilarious female perspective in the male-dominated startup world. Soon after that, in 2015, Maya starred in Simon Rich’s sci-fi comedy Man Seeking Woman and in the short-lived 2016 ABC medical dramedy "Heartbeat".


Maya’s breakout role came at 31 years old playing 13-year-old Maya Ishii-Peters, loosely based on her own pre-teen self, in Hulu’s "PEN15". One of the most refreshing and grossly relatable takes on adolescence and all the growing pains of puberty in the early-2000s, the comedy series quickly became a favorite among critics and audiences alike. Playing alongside onscreen and offscreen bestie Anna Konkle, who she met back in her college days, Maya revisited all our worst awkward preteen moments, from gross zits to unrequited crushes on popular boys. She even got to play alongside her real-life mom, which made the role all the more heartwarming and authentic! Even through her bad haircut, Maya’s talent is impossible to ignore and her star power has exploded onto the scene ever since.




A shining jewel in her filmography crown is the 2019 romcom Plus One (now available to stream on Netflix -- run, don’t walk!). The underrated gem takes on the familiar trope of wedding date-to-lovers but undeniably refreshes the plot and makes for a hilarious, relatable, feel-good watch, thanks to Maya’s signature ability to be simultaneously cool, playful, and awkward. It’s no wonder Plus One has an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes!




In 2023, Maya starred as the titular role in Netflix’s hit anime series, "Blue Eye Samurai", where she drew on her own experiences as a mixed Asian woman to voice a badass female warrior who has to masquerade as a male samurai in 17th-century Japan. The show was called “the best thing Netflix has done in years”, showing off a different side of Maya and giving us an exciting taste of her future roles.




Finally, in 2024, Maya reminded us that she isn’t just limited to playing strictly comedic roles with "Mr. and Mrs. Smith". Through the sharply crafted yet delightfully offbeat 8 episodes, Maya shines in her role as the titular Jane Smith, a normal woman thrust into a new high-stakes life as a spy and “wife” to Donald Glover’s John Smith. The show has gotten mostly glowing reviews, praising the stars’ chemistry and Maya’s versatility in portraying Jane as a complex woman with insecurities, quirkiness, strength, and killer instincts. While the show can feel slow at parts, it is more than worth the watch just for Maya!


If you’re wondering what’s next for Maya Erskine, don’t worry, she won’t be off our screens for long! She’s set to star in Sacramento, a new road-trip comedy directed by her husband, Michael Angarano. Additionally, she will appear alongside big names like Jake Johnson and Awkwafina in the animated fantasy Wildwood, which is set to hit theaters in 2025!


In the meantime, go rewatch all of Maya’s movies and shows and let us know your favorites (It’s no easy choice, we know)!