Watch CBS News

Maya Hawke on her new music, dropping out of Juilliard and collaborating with dad, Ethan

Maya Hawke on path to acting, singing career
"Stranger Things" star Maya Hawke on new music, dropping out of Juilliard 07:52

Actor Maya Hawke is best known for her role as Robin in "Stranger Things," but long before she found a love for acting, Hawke was writing songs. Now, Hawke is out with her third album, "Chaos Angel."

Hawke — who is the daughter of actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman — has been writing music since she was a child. 

"I, you know, struggled with a learning disability, and it was really hard for me to read stuff, but I would — if I put things to melody, I could memorize them better," she said. "And then, I would use them as a tool for communication because I found, at least in my family, if you communicated through art, you were heard a lot more clearly."

She attended Juilliard for a year before leaving in 2017, after she was offered the part of Jo March in the BBC production of "Little Women."

"It was extremely hard, and so wonderful," Hawke said of her experience at Juilliard. "There's so much pressure from the industry to be thin, be attractive, be castable, you know, be on social media — like there's a whole other world of work that is so separate from what acting actually is. None of those things are present there."

Hawke auditioned for Juilliard with a monologue based on author Flannery O'Connor's journals. That monologue became the basis for the 2023 movie, "Wildcat." Hawke starred in the movie as O'Connor, collaborating with her father, who directed the film.

Hawke said she wasn't nervous at all about working with her dad.

"I was nervous about talking to people about working with my dad. I still am," she said. "Taking a purely, like, love-based flame and — and, you know, walking out in the wind with it is, intimidating — you know, but working together wasn't."

Growing up in an artistic family, Hawke said she's been having an artistic conversation with her dad years.

"It's very, very lucky," she said. "Especially, I've noticed that he started to, like, really blow up on Instagram as, like, an art guru, and I'm his first student."

As an actress, Hawke has quickly become known for playing a certain type of role.

"I was talking to someone recently and they were like, 'Do you have a lot of anxiety?' Hawke said. My first role that people mostly saw me in was 'Stranger Things,' where, you know, Robin is funny and anxious and dorky and — and so, that builds a world that people are comfortable with seeing you in."

To portray the voice of Anxiety in the movie "Inside Out 2," Hawke said she pulled from her personal life.

"I have this character that I play in my own life when I'm nervous about something that I know I shouldn't be," Hawke explained. "And I was like, I'm gonna do that at my audition. And I — hey, I just kind of got into this person that I have inside of me and just let her go. And, um, and that's how I got the part. I think," she said, laughing.

When Hawke wraps up her acting work, she is planning to tour her new album. She says music is becoming "a more equal focus in her life."

"For me, all creativity comes from the same source, to have whatever it is that you feel inside exists somewhere outside," she said. "And if you can figure out the language of exactly what that feeling is and capture it, it's extremely satisfying, like capturing a firefly, and it can — if you do it well, it can light up the room."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.