Park City • A decade ago, Gabrielle Maiden was a professional snowboarder renting a room in a friend’s house in Holladay, Utah, hitting the slopes at Brighton regularly — and occasionally in competition at Park City Mountain Resort.
Now, at 31, Maiden is snowboarding less, as she’s turned her focus to acting. Her latest role, in the independent TV drama “It’s Not About Jimmy Keene,” has brought her back to Park City; the show is being shown in the 2019 Sundance Film Festival’s Indie Episodic program.
“Acting has always been my focus and main goal since I was 5,” Maiden said in an interview in Park City.
Maiden, who started snowboarding at Big Bear, Calif., said she was shy, and “snowboarding brought me out of my shell. Throwing yourself down stairs and mountains and cliffs, you have to have confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself that you’re going to land that trick, you’re going to get hurt real bad.”
Her first noteworthy acting role was in the 2017 Amazon series “I Love Dick,” set in an artist’s colony where everyone was captivated by a guy named Dick (played by Kevin Bacon). It also played at Sundance, and Maiden came along with the main cast to experience the festival.
Maiden also has had recurring roles on Showtime’s “SMILF,” and in the second season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” as Mick, getaway driver for a group of street kids who befriend the mysterious Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). Maiden can’t say what might be happening on “Stranger Things” in season three, which will unspool on Netflix on July 4.
In “It’s Not About Jimmy Keene,” Maiden plays Jada, the opinionated middle child in a mixed-race family in Los Angeles. The series’ creator, Caleb Jaffe, plays the youngest sibling, Ivan, who is haunted by news coverage of a young black man killed by police in Tulsa, Okla.
Ivan is buffeted by arguments between the radical Jada and their conservative older half-sister Aliza (Okwui Okpokwasili). Their father (David Warshofsky) is in ailing health, and outside a street preacher, Bukka (Roger Guenveur Smith), lays down the truth, couched in poetry and riddles.
“I love the script, and I love Caleb,” Maiden said of her reasons for signing on to the project, which is independently financed and is seeking an outlet to buy and air it.
Jada is bossy and can be overbearing. Maiden cites one of her favorite lines, early in the show’s pilot episode, when Jada and Ivan are arguing about music; at one point, Jada tells Ivan, “You don’t have opinions. You have what I give you.”
“I love how passionate Jada is,” Maiden said. “She loves music so much. She loves her little brother so much.” At the same time, though, “as things continue on, I hope he breaks out, and says, ‘No, this is how I feel,’” she said.
In addition to acting and snowboarding, Maiden also is a musician. Her father Tony Maiden was lead guitarist and vocalist in the funk band Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan. Her preferred instrument is a ukulele, which she said she learned while living in Holladay, picking up her friend’s ukulele when she couldn’t go snowboarding and was bored.
‘It’s Not About Jimmy Keene’
The independently financed TV drama “It’s Not About Jimmy Keene” will screen at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival as part of Indie Episodic Program 2, at the following times and venues:
- Tuesday, Jan. 29, 5:30 p.m., Prospector Square Theatre, Park City.
- Wednesday, Jan. 30, 9 p.m., Tower Theatre, Salt Lake City.
• Thursday, Jan. 31, 1 p.m., Holiday Village Cinema 1, Park City.