Given her phenomenal popularity on Instagram and the sensation she’s caused as a cosplayer, sometimes it’s hard to remember that Maitland Ward has had a genuinely successful acting career that has spanned the years as well. And she’s a California girl to boot!
Born in Long Beach on February 3, 1977, Maitland scored her first acting role at the age of 17 as Jessica Forrester on the soap opera The Bold And The Beautiful, appearing in hundreds of episodes from 1994-96.
From there, she really caught people’s attention as Rachel McGuire in the 1998-2000 sitcom Boy Meets World, after which she made guest appearances on a number of different shows and in the 2004 film White Chicks. But all of that pales in comparison to what she’s achieved since then.
As Maitland discusses in this exclusive FHM interview, as a sort of whim she decided to dress up as Batman’s partner in crime-fighting, Robin, and caused an immediate sensation. That only grew when she appeared at an event wearing the “Slave Leia” outfit from the Star Wars film Return Of The Jedi. Add to that, her scantily-clad Instagram photos and the latest images where she’s covered by nothing but body paint, and you end up with someone whose popularity is off the charts.
But what’s impressive about her accomplishments is that she knows exactly what she wants and just how far to push envelopes before they tear completely apart. She doesn’t do anything that doesn’t appeal to her, and is constantly looking for new ventures, including screenwriting and creating online photo comic books with her starring as an anti-hero, the concept of which she came with on her own.
We’d be lying if we said we weren’t impressed by just how much she’s got her act together, and how savvy she is about all of this. As you’ll see, Maitland Ward is much more than just a sexy Instagram post. Not that there's anything wrong with her Instagram posts.
FHM: So what makes somebody with an acting career decide that they’re going to embrace the idea of being a Cosplayer?
Maitland Ward: “I have always really been a nerd at heart. People don't believe me sometimes, but if you ask my friends growing up, and from school and stuff, they'll say, "Yeah, she was kind of a geeky nerd." I loved all of that stuff. I loved all of the comic books. I was a big Wonder Woman fan; that was the first thing that I was obsessed with as a kid. And Star Wars. And getting into the whole Cosplay thing, I would go to Comic Con for fun and parties, and whatever, but I thought that that part of it [Cosplay] was a really fun part of it. One year I dressed up as Robin from Batman, a girl Robin..."
FHM: Yeah, I kind of made the leap that you were a girl Robin.
Maitland Ward: [laughs] That’s good. It wasn't a great costume, but it was fun for me to wear to a party. I think some people get all weird about dressing up, but I just think it's fun. It's like Halloween, which I love. Anyway, so I got some attention from that and then I met a photographer through the Comic Con experience who said, "You know what? I have a really good Slave Leia outfit, that's really legit. You should do that, because you love Star Wars." It was on May The Fourth Be With You, so I did this comic book store appearance and wore the Slave Leia outfit. It went everywhere. People really loved it and were, like, ‘Can we get pictures, and posters, and things like that?’”
"That kind of blew me away and then I wore it again for another Comic Con. Then I started getting offers from people to wear different authentic costumes and then, of course, I met the body paint artist, so I do body paint every year of different characters. It kind of just snowballed originally from being fun for me into something that other people were interested in, too."
FHM: As a result, was there a shift away from acting towards this sort of thing for you?
Maitland Ward: I had actually taken a break from acting and I'd gone back to New York and got married. Then this whole Girl Meets World/Boy Meets World phenomenon started happening and got everybody talking about it, so I kind of got back into it again just from all the press. People wanted interviews and pictures and there were appearances. There was all this stuff, but I didn't want that to be my whole life. I was on a great show, but I just wanted to go in different directions that were fun and different and unusual for me, and since I've always loved this, and people never saw this side of me, I wanted to explore it."
FHM: You made the leap from Cosplay to posting semi-nude or nude images on Instagram. Does it take a certain amount of courage to put yourself out there like that?
Maitland Ward: "It does take an incredible amount of courage, as you say. I just like to push the boundaries and take risks and shock people. I think that's part of the fun for me. And you know what, it is kind of a thrill. It's fun, and it makes people excited to see all the wild adventures I'll do, and all the posts, because they never know what to expect next. That's fun for me. I think I'm just naturally a bit of a risk taker, even though people think that I would be some crazy, diva kind of woman, because I'm so bold and stuff, but I'm really not. I'm totally not that person, I love to push the limits. And it's crazy going to a Comic Con when you're in nothing."
FHM: We’ll get into that in a minute, but with Instagram, is there ever a worry of what people are going to say or do you just have the courage to not care?
Maitland Ward: "I guess there is a worry, but you know what? I don't really care. When people do start saying things like, 'I can't believe you did that,' it kind of fuels me more. When an Instagram post gets kicked off because somebody complained, I think, 'What else can I do to show this person even more that I’m not going to stand down from?' I think it's absolutely ridiculous that people in America are so freaked out by any nudity or women being proud of their sexuality. It’s, like, ‘You're really affected by my boob, but you don't care about all the other things going on in the world? That is your main concern?’ You've got an issue if that's your problem.”
FHM: With all of this, do you think you have an element of exhibitionism that drives you?
Maitland Ward: “Yes, I do enjoy the idea of that a little bit. It is a thrill. I think the shock value in all that exhibitionism is there, and I embrace it.”
FHM: With the body painting, that’s certainly a next big step, isn’t it?
Maitland Ward: “The first time I did it was on a little lower scale, because I had a photographer who knew this body artist, who I continue to use, but this is a couple of years back; three or four years ago or whatever it was. It wasn't in a Comic-Con situation or anything like that. It was more of an artistic shoot. The strangest thing is I feel sometimes less of an exhibitionist in the body paint than I do in little bitty clothes.”
FHM: That sounds odd.
Maitland Ward: "It's a weird feeling. You feel like you're wearing something when you're doing that, because you're completely covered with this paint that feels like some sort of clothing. I know it sounds odd to somebody who's looking at it. You just feel covered so much, even though you're not."
FHM: And yet you can see everything.
Maitland Ward: “You can see everything, but just the feeling of it isn't as bare as it would be if you were standing naked or in some teeny little thing. It's a weird experience, too, because you have to stand there for eight hours. You cannot sit and this guy is all up painting everywhere. He's really respectful and stuff, so we have a lot of fun when he's doing it. It's an intricate process and it’s not just doing it for fun, and giggles, and all that. It's like you have to really commit to it for the day.”
FHM: And you’ve got the challenge that you can’t always just walk around in public while you’re wearing body paint.
Maitland Ward: “Like at Comic-Con, I usually walk around covered with a sheet, we’ll scope out an area and then just take it off and be in public. It’s a weird situation.”
FHM: And exciting?
Maitland Ward: “It is exciting. That is the highest level of the exhibitionist excitement. What’s funny is I get more sleazy pervert guys in a club than I would at Comic Con. I mean, they're usually pretty nice. They're actually really nice at Comic-Con.”
FHM: Is there a dark side to this? You mentioned the perverts in the club.
Maitland Ward: “It usually doesn't become a problem if you're not interacting with them or anything. You can pretty much control that. When you're at appearances, and at Comic Cons, or any Anime conventions, or anything like that, I usually have three or four photographers around me, and people around me, which is in case some weirdo came out of nowhere. I hadn't had a major problem with it, but I do have people around me to protect me. It's not like I'm just on my own walking around.”
FHM: Having moved from cosplay to body paint, do you eventually reach a wall where there’s no other envelopes you can push, or am I just not having a big enough imagination?
Maitland Ward: “Maybe you’re not having a big enough imagination [laughs]. There are always envelopes out there to be pushed by my hands. You're pushing it to the limit, but then there's other ways to do that and that can interest people. Some people go out there and just be naked. I like to have an interesting set up. I like to have it be kind of artistic, and showcase my personality. I just want it to be an interesting way to do this whole thing. Not just, like, hey, here I am naked. It’s the costumes, it's the set ups, it’s being really interactive with the audience. I really like to do that and to get their feedback. They're very vocal. They stick by you through so much. I just get different takes on the same thing. I don't think it's needing to go to the farthest limit, but I just like to find new and different and interesting ways to test all sorts of limits.”
“I've done body paint three years in a row and every year people are shocked. You do have these girls that get body painted and they have the thong and the pasties on. They're weak. Hey, if you're going to do it, do a body paint with all paint, no coverage.”
FHM: From what we hear, you’re working on original comics now?
Maitland Ward: “I went back to school, too. I went to UCLA for screenwriting. I have actually three scripts that I wrote and I'm still working on getting together. One of them is a comic book character, a superhero kind of thing, so that is really what is next for me. I want to produce my own projects. I'm also really close to getting this comic book online. I think it's actually going to be more of a photo thing with a comic book feel to it. It’s written and edited like a comic book would be, but it'll be pictures of me. We started out talking about doing regular comic drawings, but I think people want to buy it to see your pictures in it. The character’s name is Vetra and she's this vixen. She's sort of bad, but she's doing good for the world, so to speak. She's not like a villain, but she's not totally good either. I can't explain it without giving away the whole storyline. Let's just say she's fun and she's sexy, and she definitely uses her sex appeal to defeat her enemies.”
FHM: Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from this conversation?
Maitland Ward: “I just want people to know that I don't take myself seriously. I can laugh at myself. I can do something silly. It's just all a show and a game. It's not like I live this every second of my day. I'm not out naked constantly all the time everywhere I go. I'm not going to Starbucks to get my latte in a bikini or something. But when it's show time, I will turn it on for you.”
Maitland's Instagram handle is @MaitlandWard
Lead image provided by Maitland Ward.