Mara was born and raised in Athens, Greece, where she got her B.A. in Media & Culture. She has a master's degree in Film (Theory, Culture and Industry) from the University of Westminster and she recently graduated from Columbia University's Lede program as an SNF Fellow. She is a longtime film critic (currently the chief film critic for news & culture website Popaganda, and Head of Program at the Athens International Children & Youth Film Festival. She is a member of the European Film Academy.