Actress and Trans Advocate Nava Mau "Felt a Great Sense of Responsibility" Playing Teri on 'Baby Reindeer'

She rose to fame on a beloved queer teen series.

nava mau as teri, sitting in a dark bar, in 'Baby Reindeer'
(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

Netflix's hit true crime series Baby Reindeer introduces several talented actors to a global audience, and Nava Mau among the series' standouts. Mau plays Teri, a confident trans woman and therapist whose life is thrown into chaos when her boyfriend, Donny Dunn (played by series creator Richard Gadd), becomes targeted by a stalker named Martha (Jessica Gunning). Teri and Donny have a sweet connection, but their romance is doomed from the start, as Donny tries to keep Teri a secret out of his internalized transphobia and shame. Their ill-fated relationship may not last the show, but it's an important, complex depiction of queer dating that often goes unseen on mainstream television.

Mau shines as Teri, embodying the character's unapologetic self-assurance and empathy towards Martha, as well as her strength in standing up for herself when the stalker eventually crosses a line towards the end of the series

In real life, the Mexico-born actress, filmmaker, and producer is just as fearless and a passionate advocate for the trans community. Read on to meet the actress who brought Baby Reindeer's Teri to life.

Nava Mau as Teri, standing in a nightclub, in 'Baby Reindeer'

Nava Mau as Teri in 'Baby Reindeer.'

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

She's a trans Latina filmmaker and cultural worker.

Mau, a Mexico City native, made her debut as a filmmaker by writing, directing, and starring in the 2019 short film Waking Hour. Since then, she has appeared as an actor in the short films Femenina, Sam's Town, and Work. The latter two, in addition to the short Lovebites, the rising star helped to producer, as well. She also notably served as a Production Fellow on the Netflix documentary Disclosure about LGBTQ+ representation in Hollywood.

A post shared by Nava Mau

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According to her official website, Mau has also worked in the fields of anti-violence, healing justice, and political education for over eight years as a public speaker, advocate, and workshop facilitator. She previously worked with survivors of violence as both a legal assistant and a peer counselor. She's also an editor of the upcoming anthology Paradise on the Margins: Worldmaking by Trans Women of Color.

In a 2021 interview with Elle, she discussed balancing her advocacy work with her film and TV career.

"Now, I am focusing full-time on my creative work and feeling like, maybe, I can't meet the responsibility of cultural and political work in film and TV, so I find myself running back to it," the actress/activist said at the time. "Thus, I think that, for projects where I am leading, it is really important to me to continue to bring in the frameworks that I believe in from my cultural work. I also believe that culture change is desperately needed in the film industry, so I hope to never let go of that. That is my mission."

Her breakout role was on a cult-favorite HBO Max series.

a teen girl (Haley Sanchez as Greta) gets her makeup done by an older woman (Nava Mau as Ana), in 'Genera+ion'

Haley Sanchez as Greta and Nava Mau as Ana in 'Genera+ion.'

(Image credit: Jennifer Clasen / HBO Max)

Mau's best known for starring in the short-lived Max series Genera+ion (which was released in 2021 and unfortunately has since been removed from streaming). On the coming of age series about a group of teens discovering their sexuality, Mau played Ana, the beloved aunt of one of the show's main characters, Greta (Haley Sanchez). Ana and Mau's performance became a fan-favorite, as she takes in her niece after her mother is deported and becomes a source of support while she's coming to terms with her sexuality.

"It was palpable even in the pilot script that the relationship between Ana and Greta is special," Mau said of the characters' bond, in an interview with Flaunt. "They really need each other, and I don’t think either of them quite knew that before they were thrown into this new dynamic."

She also shared what spoke to her about the character, saying, "Ana learns about the power of responsibility. She does her best, and I would say it turns out her best is pretty good for these kids. What I didn’t know was that I really needed Ana. She shows me what it means to be abundantly giving and unafraid, even in the face of a judgmental world."

Nava Mau attends the Outfest Fusion Opening Gala during the 19th Annual Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival at Japanese American Cultural & Community Center on April 8, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Nava Mau at the Outfest Fusion Opening Gala at Japanese American Cultural & Community Center on April 8, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

She felt a "great sense of responsibility" while playing Teri in 'Baby Reindeer.'

Mau has opened up about how she felt a special connection to her Baby Reindeer role. 

Per Digital Spy, she shared in a U.K. press screening, "When I read [the script], I could tell that [creator] Richard [Gadd] really loved her, whoever inspired this character. I think I knew that it was based on real life and it seemed really important to show people that trans women exist in real life and in relationships with real people. I could see Richard's heart in the writing and I hope that people will see it too."

richard gadd as donny dunn and nava mau as teri, standing in a subway car, in 'Baby Reindeer'

Richard Gadd as Donny Dunn and Nava Mau as Teri in 'Baby Reindeer.'

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

Mau also explained that she could tell the role was written by "someone who had actually known and loved a trans woman and wasn't writing from a place of imagination." 

When asked how she felt about playing a character based on a real person, she added, "I felt a great sense of responsibility, and I cared a lot about telling the story in the best way possible."

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.