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Interview: Stella Maeve

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Currently in its second season, the NBC police procedural Chicago P.D. has become a solid performer for the network. The series follows a uniformed police patrol and the Intelligence Unit that pursues the perpetrators of the city's major street offenses and crimes. The network has shown its confidence in the series by handing it an early season three renewal recently.

One of the most interesting characters on the series is Nadia, played by the amazing Stella Maeve. Nadia was an escort who was addicted to heroin and went through a very difficult withdrawal and was helped by Detective Erin Lindsay. In the current season, Nadia has cleaned up her act and is now setting out to make a better life for herself.

Stella sits down with us to talk about Nadia, the importance of creative input for a character and how she has changed her tune a bit when it comes to social media.

Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us a little bit about your character Nadia?

Stella Maeve – Nadia came on the show in season one. She was kind of troubled, dealing with drug addiction and working in the illegal sex trade. Lindsay kind of took her under her wing because Nadia was from the wrong side of the tracks and Lindsay identified with that as well because she also was from the wrong side of the tracks. Lindsay saw a lot of herself in Nadia and took her onboard like Voight took Lindsay on board. The progression over the last season was Nadia working her way up the ladder to try and make a huge change for herself and her life.

Chicago P.D. - Season 2

Pop Culture Principle – Your character had a very interesting journey in the first season of Chicago P.D. As an actor, how did you enjoy playing such a layered character?

Stella Maeve – It’s a lot of fun and I had a blast in the first season. As an actor, it’s so much fun to play things that are outside the box and that challenge you. It was harder and almost more challenging to play her this year. When you are an addict, you don’t really know who you are and don’t have a good sense of self whereas when you are an addict, you have a good sense of self because your drug is your sense of self. So, it’s hard because you get lost and you don’t know who you are because who you were was the drugs. This year was almost even more challenging in and of itself to try and figure that out and figure out that layer. It was hard piecing the two together and try and build upon that.

Pop Culture Principle – How important was the fact that although Nadia slipped a couple of times, Detective Lindsay never gave up on her?

Stella Maeve – I think it was huge. It wasn’t that she slipped up; she did it for the case when she went undercover and people sometimes forget that. I think it’s super important because there isn’t enough forgiveness in the world and there aren’t enough second, third or fourth chances. Not everyone is perfect, especially when it comes to addiction. People are going to slip up and if you watch enough interventions and you see that you never stop the first time, there is always a relapse with most people in their lives.

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All it takes is that one person who can trust in you, believes in you and will stand by your side regardless of how many times you might slip up. I mean, there comes a time if you keep doing the same mistake over and over again you have to learn from your mistakes. I think Nadia did learn from her mistakes and each time she did progress. Every time she had a slip up she got better, learned more and she understood and Lindsay saw that in her. It wasn’t out of malicious intent and she knew that she wanted to get better and that’s why Lindsay stood by her.

I am sure if they explore the backstory with Voight and Lindsay, she probably slipped up a couple of times as well. I don’t think anybody ever just goes straight and narrow immediately.

Pop Culture Principle – As the series progresses, will we get to learn more of Nadia’s backstory?

Stella Maeve – Unfortunately, you’re not going to get to see much of her backstory as the series continues. What you will get to see, and this is a spoiler alert, is what happens when she goes on patrol with Roman and Burgess. Platt does her a solid and lets her go on patrol with them and that was super fun.

The writers really want to do us justice, but it is a procedural. At the end of the day, as much as we as artists and the fans love to know the emotional stuff, it doesn’t correlate with the storyline and a lot of stuff gets cut. It’s about the cast, about what Voight is doing and it’s about the situation.

Nadia has become good friends with Platt which is another interesting story. Platt who doesn’t like anybody and Nadia who when you first meet her, she was this really intense, mean girl kind of turned around and became really sweet. Nadia and Platt have a great comradery which I really love and I enjoy when they write for us. It’s funny because the Platt character isn’t interested in anybody, but how cool it is that she takes a liking to Nadia who is the last person you would expect.

Pop Culture Principle – Nadia is not only street smart, but she is also very intelligent and book smart. Would you agree with that and was it important that came across with your character?

Chicago P.D. - Season 2

Stella Maeve – I think what’s interesting is that she is really smart. Matt Olmstead and I discussed this sort of thing about how interesting it would be if she did come from a good family and a series of bad events happened that led her to that way. I think with intelligence, it’s not a matter of how much you know, it’s a matter of how much you are willing to learn and she wants to learn. The most important thing anyone can do is ask questions because no one has all the answers and no one knows everything. You have to be willing and open to constantly grow and constantly learn and I think that’s why she has excelled. Nadia will ask questions, observe and watch and see what other people are doing and she will take that and put her own spin on it. You will get to see some of those actions come in to play very soon which is cool.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you think Nadia has any interest in becoming a police officer one day as well?

Stella Maeve – Those were some ideas that were thrown around, absolutely. In the storyline, that is where she’s is heading. Much like Monica Raymund’s storyline on Chicago Fire showing her go through the academy, that is what Nadia is working towards. That’s why she is always studying law and she’s in school and we are showing her work her way up the ladder.

Pop Culture Principle – How much input do you have as far as developing your character?

Stella Maeve – You don’t really get that much say. They are so cool that they will listen to ideas you have and will have discussions with you. How much of that gets done, who am I to say. It is cool that they are willing to listen because some shows you don’t even get that opportunity and you just have to sit and ride their wave. I wouldn’t say we get creative control, but I would say that we get creative input which is nice. I don’t think anybody ever gets creative control; it’s always a collaborative effort.

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Pop Culture Principle – There are several cop procedurals on television today. What do you think separates Chicago P.D. from the other series?

Stella Maeve – I think first and foremost we have an amazing cast full of amazing actors that you would never think would sign on to do a cop procedural. I think because of that it takes it out of the normal cop procedural and puts it in a different element because of the caliber of our actors. I also think the bond that we all have on and off screen translates and that makes it way more interesting with the chemistry.

The other factor is the fact that there is Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D and now Chicago Med. I think that is all very interesting as well because it has layers of other characters and shows crossing over which makes it more fascinating. You are watching one show that segue ways into another show and you want to know that whole story as well and it makes it fun and interactive for the audience. As an audience, I would love to watch one show and have those same characters occur on the other show and tie everything together and that would make me feel like I am a part of something.

Pop Culture Principle – The cast of Chicago P.D. is known for being very active with the fans when through social media and live tweeting. How have you enjoyed the social media aspect of the show?

Stella Maeve – You know, I was never in to social media and have never been a big fan of it. I don’t know how much I believe in it, however it’s today’s world so you have to buck up and do it. The great thing is that these fans make me want to do it and it’s crazy because I never thought I would. Hearing people relate with Nadia’s story, hearing people who have had drug addictions or were ex-cons, has really inspired me.

I have received fan mail from so many people all over the spectrum. I have letters from women who have had husbands with these issues and told me that my performance as an artist has turned their lives around and they are now in school and going to become a cop; that to me is unreal and there is nothing that can compare to that high. It’s such a great feeling and such a wonderful thing as an actor to feel that you have helped and that is because of social media. People can reach out to you and people feel like you are there. Even if they don’t know you, they feel like you are approachable and people like that and like to be interactive.

Chicago P.D. - Season 2

From an actor’s perspective, I don’t really want to know what people I admire are doing 24/7, but from a different perspective, when you use these tools correctly, instead of being an invasion of privacy, it can also be a fountain of hope. Our fans are so wonderful and the compliments are so amazing. I mean, we all get down and insecure like everybody else and to know that there are people that believe in you out there and love you and your work, what a self-esteem boost. I think we have some amazing fans and I am so grateful.

Pop Culture Principle – Would you consider the city of Chicago a character as well in the series?

Stella Maeve – Absolutely! They do a beautiful and exquisite job showing off the city that we live in. It’s freezing and regardless of the weather, they get us out there, but it is a beautiful city. I am from New York and live in LA now, but I have to say that the last two years in Chicago, I think the food in Chicago is the best I’ve had in my life.

Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to for the rest of season two of Chicago P.D.?

Stella Maeve - They have a lot to look forward to. There will be a lot happening to Nadia in the next three episodes. Other than that, I don’t want to really reveal much else. You will just have to tune in and watch!

You can catch brand new episodes of Chicago P.D. every Wednesday night at 10/9c. We would like to thank Stella for taking time to talk with us. If you would like to stay up to date with all her latest news and projects, you can follow her via her official Twitter account here.

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