Riveting Riffs Logo One Christina Mauro - Actress, Writer & Producer
Christina Mauro Photo One

There are many facets to Christina Mauro’s career as an actor, screenwriter and a producer and there are also many facets to her life and so it was with great interest that we sat down with this native Texan, now living in Los Angeles. Life began for Christina Mauro in Beaumont, Texas, before her family moved to Falfurrias and then to Conroe, Texas. Her family tree on her father’s side has roots in Texas before it was Texas. Her heritage on that side is Colonial Tejano or Tejano Texians, who were citizens of what was then known as the Kingdom of Spain and who moved into the territory now yet known as Texas, started settling there in the 17 the century and through to the Texas revolution during the 1800s.  

As for her mother’s side of the family she says, “My mom’s family is English, Scottish and Irish. They are a very different kind of people and they are a lot quieter, whereas my dad’s family is more opinionated. When I think of my dad’s family, I think of these warrior people who are not afraid to voice their opinions and to get into the frontline. Many in my dad’s family are activists. The people in my mom’s family are more soft-spoken. I come from two different cultures.”

In conversation with Christina Mauro some things immediately become apparent, she is passionate about the things that are important to her, family, career and her involvement with Peace Over Violence, which on April 29 th, which just past used Denim Day to draw attention to and to educate people about gender violence.

Christina Mauro Photo Two “I am a survivor of teen dating violence when I was in my late teens. I am also a survivor of sexual assault. I have always talked about it and it is going on almost 29 years from my assault. I have been acting since I was seven and I have always had a voice. I have always felt comfortable in stating my opinion, so from the get-go I was talking about it with friends and I was talking about it with strangers, because I think it is an important topic.

When I came to LA, I started looking for an organization and I was so busy I was not able to get started until 2010. I kept circling Peace Over Violence and everything about them (reflected) my views. It was a comfortable place for me. It was a place where I could have my voice and share my voice with people who maybe weren’t able to talk yet. I could lend my voice to those people. I thought maybe I could make a difference.

I am a storyteller and I have always been a storyteller, whether it is somebody else’s story or whether it is my story. We are all in it together. You have seen the statistics (concerning) sexual assaults and domestic violence and teen dating violence. We would like it to go away, but it just won’t.  Until it goes away, I will be talking about it and educating people about it. I think so much of it is about education. So much of it is giving people the vocabulary to know what is happening to them.

When I think back to when I was younger, I didn’t know that I was in a teen violence dating relationship. I didn’t know there was such a thing. I knew there was domestic violence, but if you aren’t married (you think) it is not domestic violence, but I didn’t know what it was. Once you have a term or the vocabulary to wrap around it, it is easier to move forward and to get something done about it.”

The projects that Christina Mauro works on also have social context. For instance, Rachelle Masters’ (producer and writer) short film Americult, that is in pre-production and which is being treated like a pilot, with hopes of turning it into a series is loosely based on Masters’ own life.  

When contacted Rachelle Masters described film as, “Gretchen is a young girl whose life is dramatically and forever changed when her parents move the family from their home on Rhode Island to the compound of an evangelical cult in upstate New York. Her parents fall under the charismatic spell of Pastor Joe, who uses religion to blur the lines between devotion, and a dangerous and intoxicating eroticism. Gretchen loses her parents to a seductive ideology, while growing up in an abusive world that justifies patriarchy through religious belief, and it uses power to silence her.”

Christina Mauro says, “They called me one day and they said we are looking for a particular person to play Gretchen’s aunt.  When I read it, I felt like I had been there and the aunt was somebody that I knew, if that makes sense. It resonated with me. Cindy is a good character for me.”

We agree that it really amounts to modern day enslavement and then she continues, “Gretchen feels trapped and she feels like she doesn’t have a voice. It is the idea of having our voice taken away and I think that is something that frightens all of us. When you talk about modern day enslavement, (it is about) you not having a voice. You do what you are told and that is a horrifying thought for us now, isn’t it? Right now, with everything that is going on it is not so farfetched.”

As for how she thinks people will respond to the film she says, “I think it is going to be dependent on where the person who is watching it is in their life. I think some people will look at it from the little girl’s point of view and some people will look at it from the parents’ point of view. Depending on who you are and where you are in life and with some of the trauma you have experienced you may not like it and you may feel aggressive towards it. I don’t think Rachelle, or I will be surprised at any reaction.  I think we are expecting all sorts of reactions to the film.  

It is a hard topic. It deals with so much. It deals with abuse and it deals with childhood abuse. It deals with parents who are not parenting the way they should. You think of parents as people who are supposed to protect you, but the reality is sometimes parents don’t protect you and sometimes it is not their fault, but they don’t know how to protect you. I am definitely not letting parents off the hook for things that traumatize children. I think sometimes people make choices and they think at the time they are making the best choice only to find out later they did not. When they realize they did not make the right choice they double down, as though they have done the right thing, because they can’t handle the mistake they have made.”

In addition to another film in which she appears and that is in the pre-production stage, which we will talk about in a minute, Christina Mauro is currently involved with rewriting a short film and she is the principal writer for a feature film.

“The short film deals with two sisters and homelessness. There will be people who will go why didn’t you (the people in the film) fix that and why didn’t you do that? Everybody thinks they can do it better until they are in the situation.”

As for the feature film we cannot say anything more about that project at this time, which just gives us a reason to invite Christina Mauro back as our guest at a future time.

Let’s talk instead Christina about another film that you are in and that is also in pre-production Granny Something.

Rachelle Masters described it as being about, “A woman who struggles with the challenges of caring for an elderly woman with dementia and the (caregiver) finds humor in what are often frustrating circumstances.”

Christina Mauro elaborates, “This is going to be a web series. Rachelle and I were sitting together and talking, and it was one of those beautiful moments when all of a sudden you realize that you are creating something.

As we were talking the name Granny Something came up. When you are dealing with your own immortality and dementia it is scary. At the same time there is humor in life in certain moments. We were talking about all of those things and that is how this project came about. Christina Mauro Photo Three

It is hard. I had an aunt who had Alzheimer’s and she would get up in the middle of the night and you would ask her who she was cooking for and she said she was cooking for her young children. I had another aunt who didn’t have Alzheimer’s, but she was getting older and it was hard for her to admit that was starting to happen to her. She had always been in such control of her life that it was hard for her to say, you know what I think I am struggling now. It was a very difficult thing to admit.

It is very interesting, because there are two characters, but right now we are considering the idea of me playing both characters. First, we were talking about it and I was what? If this does go to a series, I am not sure that is what they are going to want to do with it. (If we do that) I would be the woman with dementia and also the younger caretaker. When she brought that up, I was oh, I hadn’t thought of that. It sounds like fun.

I think (the story) is real life and hopefully people see something in it that resonates with them. Maybe it makes them giggle about something that is a little bit difficult or makes them think about the idea that they are not alone. There are so many people struggling with this.

It is the same thing when I am doing stuff for Peace Over Violence. If you reach one person and they feel like they are not alone. If something that you have said or showed to them resonates with them and helps them to get over a hump, then you have done something good. I think that is what brings me to some of these (film) projects and helps me to think about what my job is as an actor.”

After Christina Mauro’s father died when she was six years old, her mother who was an artist decided to go back to college and she attended what would eventually become A & M University in Kingsville, Texas.

“She had to take me with her to class one day and it was a nude drawing class. My mother was okay with me seeing females, but that particular day she walked in and it was a male. She thought this is not going to work.

Rather than going home and skipping class, my mother decided that she would find a person to take care of me during her art class. She went bolting into this library kind of a space and there was a girl there who was taking a test and she says to her can my daughter sit here with you are taking this test? The young woman said yes. My mom went to her class.

When my mom came back the woman said I am a theater major and we are doing the play Brigadoon and we need children. It happens around this time. Do you think I could take (your daughter) and she could be in the play? My mom said yes and that is how it started,” she says.  

As for her own education after high school, Christina Mauro says, “I went to the University of Houston where I studied with Carolyn Houston Boone (theater) and Chuck Hudson (mime and movement). I studied theater and I studied psychology. I have a double major.

I loved it and it is a great school for theater. The teachers are great. I had an opportunity to workshop, as an actor with Edward Albee. He did a playwrighting class in the spring and then he would produce plays from the class. He was also part of the casting. He cast me as a siamese twin (Editor’s note: So, we are thinking playing two characters in Granny Something should be easy right Christina?). That is always going to be a big deal to me, because I thought he was pretty awesome.

I really loved movement with Chuck Hudson. He had studied with Marcel Marceau. and he was his assistant in France for many years. He was a University of Houston alumnus, so they brought him back. I had done modern dance when I was younger. When he showed up at that school it was amazing for me. I learned how to use my body in ways that I didn’t know about. I could go on and on about the University of Houston and the teachers, the curriculum and the plays. There are some phenomenal plays that are directed and produced there. There are many people I am still very close with today.”

Her other major, psychology has proven helpful throughout her acting career, “You are often looking at people and at the things that are (happening) in between what they are saying. You sit down with a script and you think here is this line, but how many different things were they thinking about when they said this? How many different meanings does this line have?  I think about the character and I am able to put the character in the moment. (I can think about) the life and experiences it had. Actors study character anyway. That is what we do. We are trained to watch people and to look at people, to watch interactions and to see how in a drop of a hat things can change depending on what is being said or done.”

Then came the move from Texas to Los Angeles, “After my assault, I was unsure about acting. I was unsure about putting myself in front of people that I didn’t know. I survived the assault, but we never found the perpetrator. During that time, I had been busy doing things in theater. I didn’t know if I was ready to put myself out there. A friend of mine wrote a play and he said I wrote this part for you and you are going to do it (she laughs). At the same time my mentor one day she said to me, you need to get the #% #@ out of here. She said you need to leave. She said here are your choices you go to LA or you go to New York. You have three dogs and you are going to California. I said okay.

I went home and I told a couple of my friends that this had come up. I need to leave and go to Los Angeles. Before I knew it these friends of mine started bringing me boxes, they rented a U-Haul and they took off work. They scheduled everything that needed to take place to get me here.

My friend Lew Temple was living in LA. My mentor told me to go out to LA and stay with Lew until you find an apartment. I feel like at one point I just woke up and I was sitting on a couch in Los Angeles. There was no struggle except I had a hard time finding an apartment for three dogs. I was about to give up and then a beautiful apartment showed up in my life.

I studied at Playhouse West Repertory Theater where I studied with Chris Liebe and Jeff Goldblum. I learned to be me and that it is okay to be me,” she says.

What is the best thing about being Christina Mauro?

“I have a lot of love. I have been through a lot and through it all I have continued to hope. I am always hopeful, even in the worst times, both professionally and in my personal life. I have always had hope and love. I have a full heart and it is full of family and friends. I give to them and I get a lot of love back. I think that is amazing,” she says.

Ten years from now Christina what do you hope people think of first when your name is mentioned?

“She was an honest storyteller and she was authentic and real.”

Thank you and you are.   

This interview is dedicated to the survivors and to the ones who feel they have lost their voices and those who help them to discover it again, as they begin their long journey back. Please visit the website for Peace Over Violence and also take time to visit Christina Mauro’s IMDB profile.     Return to Our Front Page

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This interview by Joe Montague  published May 5th, 2020 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos are the the property of  Christina Mauro unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine.