• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2022: Margaret Qualley, “Maid”

2021 was the breakthrough year for the former dancer, model, and actress Margaret Qualley. At 27, she’s finally and fully showing all her acting talents with her first leading role, that of a struggling single mother in the acclaimed Netflix miniseries Maid, which has led to her first Golden Globe nomination as Best Actress in a Limited series.  
Maid has been a sensational success, drawing 67 million viewers in the US in just the first month after its release on October 1. It’s listed among Netflix’s Top Five Shows most viewed across the globe of all time, and it’s made Qualley a bona fide star. In it she plays Alex, a young single mother who struggles to make ends meet as a cleaner and raise her young daughter while fighting against an abusive relationship, poverty, and the welfare system – a role which reveals the acting talent that Qualley obviously inherited from her famous mother, actress Andie MacDowell. In the series, real mom MacDowell plays the fictional character Alex’s mother, a middle-aged woman with mental health issues who doesn’t make things easier for Alex, despite the deep love between them. 
Over the years, Qualley has quietly – up until now – gathered a resume of notable performances in numerous films and television shows, such as Novitiate, The Leftovers, Fosse/Verdon, The Nice Guys and, famously, in Quentin Tarantino‘s  Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019) in the role of the pretty hippie girl who brings Brad Pitt‘s character to the Spahn Movie Ranch where the infamous Manson “family” dwells.
Qualley, Hollywood’s new discovery, is now the go-to actress of her age: she just wrapped the films The Stars at Noon, Sanctuary and Poor Thing, and she’s tapped to play none other than legendary tap dancer Ginger Rogers to Jamie Bell’s Fred Astaire in Fred & Ginger.
She was born on October 23, 1994, in Montana, the daughter of actress MacDowell and former Gap model Paul Qualley, now a rancher and property developer. She grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and although she grew up around films, she originally wanted to become a professional dancer. She started studying ballet very early, at the age of four. She continued to study dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, earned an apprenticeship at the North Carolina Dance Theater company; at age 16 she moved to New York City to study at the American Ballet Theater, where, according to Vogue magazine, she danced Monday to Saturday, eight hours a day.  
She later changed her focus to acting and decided to attend London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Although she decided not to pursue a career in dance, her dancing skills were on exhibition in a famous Kenzo perfume spot directed by Spike Jonze, in which she danced masterfully without a break in a long, uncut, single tracking shot.
Back in New York, Qualley became a runway model. She signed with IMG Models and walked for big fashion names such as Alberta Ferretti, Valentino, Ralph Lauren and Chanel. Additionally, she appeared in fashion magazines like VogueWTeen VogueInterviewVanity Fair and Nylon. However, the high-pressure modeling industry didn’t make her happy. She has told The Hollywood Reporter that she felt “miserable” and “was not thinking very clearly” for staying so skinny.
“I was 20 pounds less than I am now and starving myself,” she said. “I lived alone, I didn’t know anybody in New York, and I was definitely a recluse. It had been, like, two weeks, and I realized I hadn’t said anything. I was lying in bed, and I was like, ‘Hello?’ I just talked to hear my own voice. And it was such a strange feeling.” Her life improved immeasurably when acting took over. 
Outside of acting, Qualley is profoundly committed to environmental causes, most notably those of protection of the rain forest and animal protection issues. The actress told Hunger that she has been an activist from a young age: “I used to put up signs of cows being slaughtered in my North Carolina high school, and I would rummage through the trash in the cafeteria to separate recycling. I’m definitely climate conscious and it’s definitely something I think about… And now in Los Angeles sometimes my sister and I go at night in the forests to feed the coyotes.”
The sister is Rainey Qualley, a successful musician in her own right  who goes by the name of Rainhead. “Our idea of a great night out: bringing wet dog food to the coyotes: my sister and I are two dorks after all,” Margaret says with a disarming candor.