Get ready to hear a lot more about Maid, considering the new Netflix series is wowing critics. The 10-episode series centers on a single mom who escapes abuse and pushes through poverty to provide a better life for herself and her young daughter.
Maid is named after and inspired by Stephanie Land’s 2019 memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, but it’s not an exact retelling of Stephanie’s life. The central character in the series, played by Margaret Qualley, is named Alex, for example, and showrunner Molly Smith Metzler told Decider recently that the series is “emotionally very true to the memoir.”
So considering the series is partly fictional, here’s more information on Stephanie’s true life story so far.
Stephanie Land’s mother’s experience informed her motherhood journey.
As Stephanie details in her book, her college-era dreams of becoming a writer were postponed when she had an unplanned pregnancy with an abusive partner. She left that partner and became a single mom, working low-paying jobs and living in a homeless shelter.
Stephanie explained on NPR’s Fresh Air in 2019 that she knew that she wanted to continue with the pregnancy. “Some backstory to that was that my mom had told me that she was very close to aborting me,” she said. “She said she sat in the parking lot and just couldn’t go through with it. And she told me that when I was, like, 13, and it really affected me. It made me feel kind of less wanted. So I can honestly say that I always wanted Mia. I just wasn’t sure if it was the best situation for her.”
Stephanie also drew upon her father’s advice. “I remember one conversation in particular with my dad, who was 20 when I was born,” she said. “He said, 'You know, your mom and I were kind of in the same situation, but, you know, we turned out fine; and you’re fine and your brother’s fine; and it was all good in the end.' So I kind of went into it with that attitude. Like, OK, this might possibly be really hard, but it’ll be fine in the end.”
Stephanie Land and her husband have four kids.
According to her website, Stephanie eventually got a Pell Grant that helped her attend the University of Montana in Missoula, where she got her B.A. in English and Creative Writing. She later became a freelancer, and a viral Vox essay of hers caught the eye of a literary agent, who helped her land her book deal for Maid. She also became a writing fellow with the Center for Community Change and the Economic Hardship Program.