As a newcomer to ABC’s hit show, The Conners, Maya Lynne Robinson has let us know she is more than just an in-law. We sat down with the new cast member to discuss her new role as Geena on The Conners, how she got her start, the importance of mental health, why she is passionate about it, and how she plans to make a change in the world.

Tell us about yourself; what made you want to become an actress?

My mother was performing in Jean Anouilh’s Antigone in college and the director’s daughter got sick so they needed another child to play The Page. My mother volunteered me. I had two lines at the end of the play. Finally, I spoke and then Creon delivered one final speech. The lights went down and as they rose again, everyone began to clap. Little did I know it was the end of the play. I thought it was all for me and I was hooked!

Tell us about your role as Geena on ABC’s hit show, The Conners.

Geena is the wife of DJ and the mother of Mary. She is a quiet force and anchor for The Conners. She is active duty military and her presence brings a grounding and disciplined energy that The Conners need, particularly after the loss of such a strong matriarch.

Being an in-law does not stop her from sharing her opinion because she isn’t intimidated by being an in-law, which is refreshing to play. She doesn’t need to say much to get her opinions across and her conservative nature brings balanced and sensible energy to an otherwise chaotic Conner family.

Geena was played by two wonderful actresses previously, she had very little backstory to work from, so it was great to collaborate with the cast and crew on where we could take Geena as a character. The initial challenge for me was not having 30 years of history with the cast. I feel blessed that we came together to play and figure out the puzzle.

How do you relate to your character? Do you find any characteristics in that remind you of yourself?

The force that is Geena is a combination of me, my mother, and grandmother. She has the strength and grounding of my grandmother that creates a very no-nonsense energy, the non-verbal passive communication of my mother, which is why she has a pretty good side-eye! My voice and cadence allow the authenticity of Geena to shine through. Those three characteristics create the power that is Geena. Growing up in the Midwest, I’m a Cleveland girl, and having military parents provided me context to play her.

You are also a mental health advocate. Why is that so important to you?

It’s important because everyone struggles with mental health. Often times, we do not realize how important it is until we find ourselves in a dark place or struggling. Getting help to handle feelings and showing vulnerability are often misconstrued as weakness, so is kindness.

Personally and professionally, I have been told that I need to behave a certain way to succeed and that I am not enough as I am. It took me a long time to break the cycle of trying to be anything other than who I am; understanding that kindness is not weakness and that I am enough as I am.

Being true to the light and dark that live in us sets us free. Everybody should be a mental health advocate because everyone has struggles.

What can we expect to see from Maya Lynne Robinson in the future?

I will create the change I want to see in the world, which is being the “unity in diversity” that I think the world needs. I will live authentically and outside of any box that others try to put me in. I will spread light, love, and human connection in a world that tries to turn you cold in the face of the digital age. Those are all personal goals for me.

Through my work, I will create characters that provide human connection. I want to make people feel, heal, and care. No two characters that I have ever played are alike. Check my resume, it’s true. But most of all, I will work hard and be kind.

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Image Credits:

Styling: Ebony Brown

Photographer: Joshua David Powell

Makeup: Jared Lipscomp 

All images provided by Ascend PR Group