‘Parks and Recreation’s’ Mara Marini On Auditions, Trusting Your Intuition + Playing a Porn Star

Actress Mara Marini gives us the scoop on the Parks and Recreation crew, who she’s dreaming of working with next, and what it’s like to play a porn star.

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Actress Mara Marini made a splash as pornographic film star Brandi Maxxxx on Parks and Recreation (who else was rooting for Brandi during her campaign for public office?). We chatted with the woman behind our favorite porn star about her favorite scenes, those independent horror films she’s starred in, and what we’ll catch her in next!

BettyConfidential: What’s it like to play a porn star on Parks and Recreation?

Mara Marini: So much fun! I really can’t say enough wonderful things about that show and the amazing writing and the awesome cast and crew. They wrote the character of Brandi Maxxxx so well that it’s such a joy playing her. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with such talented people. I really hope they have me back next season. Working on that show is the best time of my life thus far.

Mara Marini Parks and Rec

BC: What was your favorite scene to shoot as Brandi Maxxxx?

MM: That is such a hard question! [laughs] I love them all! My first scene in season 3 with Perd Hapley and Leslie Knope. That was so special to me because it was my first “big” job – and I am such a fan of Amy Poehler – so it was a magical day for me. But shooting “The Debate” episode in season 4 was such a blast, too! Paul Rudd, Adam Scott and Mo Collins were hysterical – and we were shooting in a big auditorium with a lot of extras. This past season I had some really fun scenes with Jason Schwartzman, Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler. They are all just so brilliant and so funny. I am sorry…I don’t know if I can pick a favorite! They all tie! I’m a horrible interviewee.

BC: What’s your relationship like with the cast of Parks and Recreation? Were there any jokes or pranks on set?

MM: They are all so lovely. Everyone is so kind and generous – they make you feel so welcome. The energy on set is so cheerful – everyone is doing what they love and it just permeates into everything and makes it such an amazing experience. I didn’t see any pranks, but there were lots of jokes. One of my favorite memories was the lunch-break-dance-party with cast and crew in the makeup trailer. So much fun.

Mara Marini Twitter

BC: Every workplace should be exactly like that! On a more serious note, have you ever felt pressured to alter your appearance to please agents?

MM: Yes. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I met with a very reputable agent and she told me that she would take me on if I made some changes. I was young and I thought I needed to do what she said in order to get an agent and get work. She told me because I wasn’t “model-ly enough” to go out for beautiful roles and I didn’t “look funny enough” to go out for character roles that I would need to cut my hair short and dye it dark to sell myself as “funny” (and for her to take me on as a client). So I went out, chopped off all of my hair, dyed it dark brown (cried for a few days) and got new headshots. I continued training and hustling to get any auditions I could on my own…but she did not send me out on ONE audition. For a moment there, I had a smidge of an identity crisis – I just didn’t really feel like me. It was a challenging time for me. I changed my look to fit someone else’s idea of what I should be. I was upset with myself for not trusting in myself enough and altering my appearance so drastically for someone else.

I learned a lot from that, though. Years later – right before booking Parks and Recreation – I was trying to find an agent (again) and was told by another agency that they would take me on if I dyed my hair dark again. I decided not to. It just didn’t feel right. I may not have booked Parks with brunette hair – who knows? I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I know what I am. That’s not to say I will never change my hair color again, but I do believe you need to be true to who you are and trust your intuition.

Read Sofia Coppola Once Spent a Summer Fetching Karl Lagerfeld’s Coffee

BC: Do you do anything special to prepare for an audition?

MM: I don’t know that it is anything super special. I feel like a lot of actors probably do this. Each audition is really different, but I always try to get as acquainted as I can with the material. If it is a show, I like to make sure I watch a few episodes; if it is a film, I like to view some of the writer or director’s previous work, etc. Of course sometimes, with last minute or same day auditions, time doesn’t always allow for that, but I really try to prepare as much as I can. I do my homework. As far as memorizing and building the character, I have a whole system I go through that I have cultivated over the years through experience and training, and I am always learning too. I love all aspects of acting. Auditions can be nerve wracking, but you also are getting to play that character for that moment of time, so it is still fun.

One character thing I do that may be a bit “special” or odd – is my nails. I know that for some actors, shoes are a big thing for them when developing a character or wardrobe pieces, but for me, I have to know what kind of nails she has. That really gets me into character somehow.

BC: What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received about pursuing an acting career?

MM: Over the years, a lot of teachers would really harp on how tough this business is and how you probably won’t make it. I remember one professor at York University telling us [a roomful of students]: “Look in front of you. Now look behind you. Now look to your right. Now to your left. (dramatic pause) None of you will make it. … Still interested?” For all of that disparaging advice, it did teach me that you have to really, really, REALLY love it or else pursuing this career becomes a very arduous task. But, a teacher once told me (and I’m paraphrasing a bit here): “If you love doing it for the craft and not for fame or money…if you adore it more than anything…if you can’t picture yourself doing anything else…if you want to keep doing it your whole life even if you don’t ‘make it’ and you are always a ‘struggling actor’ – then you are meant to do this.” She went on to say how many of her peers left the industry after a bit of time and persistence really is a large part of it too. That comforts me somehow. Everyone’s path is so different in this crazy business that there is no clear-cut path…but I love what I do, hope to do it ‘til the day I die and I feel so blessed to be able to do it.

Brandi Maxxxx Debate

BC: What’s something not many people expect about you?

MM: I am extremely punctual –to the point of neurosis. I am so terrified of being late, that I will always arrive early…sometimes very early. So I always bring a book and hang out in my car for a while…or I’ll play Words With Friends on my phone.

BC: Is there an actor or actress in particular you’d really want to work with?

MM: There really are so many that I admire and think the world of [Notice my answer to my favorite Parks scene? It’s hard for me to choose with these kinds of questions!] I don’t know that I could say just one without it turning into a mile-long list. I will say that the whole cast of Parks and Recreation are definitely on that list, though…so I’ve checked off a few boxes.

Gothic Vampires from Hell

BC: You’ve appeared in several independent horror films. What have you learned from them? Do you have any tips for surviving the night?

MM: I’ve learned that I don’t want blood all over me for a while. Just kidding. They were fun, but I really love comedy. I hope to continue down this path for a while. As far as surviving the night…just get out of there! Don’t walk toward the scary noise!

BC: What’s up next for you?

MM: I just finished a fun stint with Break.com called “Inside Dating” – which is a fun advice-driven “what not to do” for men on online dating. We are looking at making it a more regular show. Shooting some funny pieces for the ESPYs; guest starring on Disney’s Kickin’ It (shooting this week and next – not sure on air date yet); writing a lot; shooting a politically incorrect comedy film this fall/winter – some funny people are attached but I can’t say too much yet; and crossing my fingers tightly that I am asked back to Parks this coming season!

Can’t get enough of Mara Marini? Follow her on Twitter.

Diana Denza is BettyConfidential’s contributing editor.


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