‘Maid’ lively roundtable conversation: Showrunner Molly Smith Metzler, director John Wells, actors Margaret Qualley and Andie MacDowell on their new Netflix series [WATCH]

Reading Stephanie Land‘s memoir “Maid” “ruined my sleep for several nights,” explains Molly Smith Metzler. The book told the story of the author’s struggle to escape an abusive relationship while cleaning homes to support herself and her young daughter. Metzler adapted that harrowing story into a 10-episode Netflix limited series, and she joined us for a special Gold Derby Spotlight Q&A along with director and executive producer John Wells and actors Margaret Qualley and Andie MacDowell. Watch our 30-minute panel discussion above.

“It really upset me that this country makes it so difficult for someone like Stephanie Land to care for her daughter and to make ends meet,” Metzler adds about the story, which doesn’t just detail the hardships of abuse and poverty, but the roadblocks put in place by institutions that are supposed to help. “I was really angry and upset by the book and excited to enrage all of America.” It was also personal for Wells, who has family that “has experienced a number of things that were discussed in the book. And it’s something we don’t talk about enough in this country.”

“I had never read a script like that, and I never had the opportunity to play a part like that,” says Qualley about taking on the role of Alex, the character inspired by Stephanie Land. Additionally, it was an opportunity to work with her real-life mother MacDowell, who also plays her mother Paula in the series. “I knew no one could do that part better. And I was so lucky that I got to work with her.”

Their real familial bond made it easier to develop the relationship between Alex and Paula on screen, and it let to uniquely moving moments for the two actors. “Molly wrote this beautiful scene where Paula tells Alex that she’s proud of her, and it was crazy to me to shoot that scene because it felt like my mom was telling me that she was proud of me at the end of the whole show. And it just meant the world.”

For MacDowell, the whole series was “a worthwhile journey,” for herself and the audience. “I think it’s important to have programming that does teach you and challenge you and also entertain you. And I think that’s what you get. It’s the whole package.” Though the series deals with uncomfortable subjects, she hopes the audience also feels enriched by it: “Just wait until the end because you’re going to feel satisfied.”

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