Maria Bakalova was born in Burgas, Bulgaria. At the age of six she started singing and flute lessons. She studied at the National School of Arts in Burgas, majoring in acting for drama theatre, and a second major in flute. After that she studied at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts in Sofia, and graduated in 2019. Maria made her on-screen debut playing a supporting part in the 2017 comedy-drama film XLLA. In the same year, she starred in TRANSGRESSION, in which she played ‘Yana’, a young girl who has an unusual relationship with an aging rock musician. However, it was her performance as ‘Tutar Sagdiyev’, the daughter of fictional Kazakh reporter Borat Sagdiyev, in the mockumentary BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM alongside Sacha Baron Cohen, that brought her international attention. For her performance, Maria received numerous awards including the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress, and was nominated for an Oscar & BAFTA award. Her other credits include: WOMEN DO CRY by Mina Mileva & Vesela Kazakova; the role of ’Valentina’ in THE FATHER by Petar Valchanov & Kristina Grozeva; as ‘Bee’ in A24’s BODIES BODIES BODIES; and the role of ‘Cosmo’ in the third instalment of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY directed by James Gunn. Most recently, Maria starred in Andrew Durham's directorial debut feature FAIRYLAND.