Academy Awards 2021: Maria Bakalova Made Oscars History With Her Nomination

The 2021 Academy Award nominations feature several veteran actors as well as some who are still in the early days of their careers. Bulgarian actor Maria Bakalova received her first-ever Oscar nomination for her role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, where she played the daughter of Sacha Baron Cohen’s iconic character.

Maria Bakalova
Maria Bakalova speaks at the 25th Annual Art Directors Guild Awards streamed on April 10, 2021 | Art Directors Guild via Getty Images

Who is Maria Bakalova?

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was many American audiences’ first experience with the Bulgarian actor. Bakalova is a trained actor who graduated from the Krastyo Sarafov National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts in the capital city of Sofia.

Prior to the Borat movie, Bakalova had been a working actor in her home country for a handful of years. Her film debut was in the 2017 film XIIa, and she had other small in roles in Bulgarian movies such as Angels, Transgression, and The Father (not to be confused with the 2021 Best Picture nominee). She’s set to appear in Judd Apatow’s comedy film The Bubble later this year.

Fellow Bulgarian actor Julian Kostov connected her with a casting director that led to her getting the role as Tutar Sagdiyev in the Borat sequel.

Maria Bakalova
Maria Bakalova presents the award for Feature-Length Motion Picture – Best Contemporary Hair Styling at the 8th Annual Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Awards streamed on April 3, 2021 | IngleDodd Media via Getty Images

Maria Bakalova plays Borat’s daughter in ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’

In Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Bakalova’s character works hand-in-hand with her father as they prank several high-profile political figures. One of the most viral scenes involved former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was lured into a hotel room with Bakalova and began preparing for a sexual encounter before Borat burst into the room and informed him she was underage.

While the first Borat movie documented Borat’s travels around the US and his cultural exchanges, the plot of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm centered around Tutar being offered as a bride to Vice President Mike Pence as a peace offering from their native Kazakhstan and a way of strengthening the two countries’ relationship.

The 24-year-old actor has already received more than 20 awards for her performance, including the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress. She’s also been nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Golden Globe Awards.

Maria Bakalova
Maria Bakalova speaks during the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards broadcast on April 22, 2021 | Rich Fury/Getty Images for Film Independent

RELATED: ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’: Sacha Baron Cohen Spent 11 Hours Preparing to Ambush This Political Figure

Maria Bakalova’s nomination is an Oscars first

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm has launched Bakalova to stardom in the States. At the 2021 Academy Awards in the Best Supporting Actress category, she’s up against Olivia Colman for The Father; Glenn Close for her role in Hillbilly Elegy; Amanda Seyfried in Mank; and Youn Yuh-Jung in Minari.

Regardless of if she wins the Oscar, Bakalova has already made Oscars history. She’s the first Bulgarian actor to be nominated — not just at the Academy Awards, but other large events such as the BAFTAs, SAG Awards, and Golden Globes.