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Squamish actor in Netflix's 'Maid' hopes it sparks real-life change

Amy Reid, who plays a social services worker in 'Maid,' looks forward to Between Shifts Theatre's holiday production at Eagle Eye Theatre.

Squamish actor Amy Reid didn’t have to do much research for her role in the Netflix series Maid; she has been a less prickly version of her character — social services worker Jody. 

“I have never sat in a character’s shoes and felt quite as comfortable as I did with Jody,” said Reid. 

The popular 10-episode show — currently the third most-watched Netflix show in Canada — depicts a young mother’s struggle to leave intimate partner violence and restart her life as a housekeeper. 

 It is based on Stephanie Land’s memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive.

It is an unusual and likely more relatable story for many because it shows the complexity of violent relationships and the challenges of poverty in a way that is more raw and honest than is usually portrayed on the big or little screen.

Reid’s character works at a shelter registration office and is the first person young mother Alex encounters within the government aid system. 

She introduces Alex and her daughter to their options and the maze of red tape to access them. 

Ultimately, Jody helps get Alex to a Domestic Violence shelter and later into better subsidized housing.  

Reid previously worked for the Salvation Army in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver and was a manager at Squamish Helping Hands for six years. 

“I get what it is to want to help somebody and then feel super frustrated that by the lifeline that you are offering them, coming up short,” she said. “And this is where Jody is at with Alex’s character when Alex’s character comes in and sits down looking for help and finds out that it is not as easy as all that.” 

Reid said this is the most attention any production she has been in has ever gotten. 

“There’s something in the story that is touching a chord with a lot of people and it is sparking a conversation. That is the most exciting thing about this series,” she said. “People are saying employers have to change the way that they support their workers. They have to understand that childcare is important. They have to understand that [workers] can’t be expected to buy their own supplies.” 

Jody, and the series overall, vocalizes that abuse in a relationship is not always physical. 

“It is emotional, it is financial, it is verbal — it is slowly ebbing away a person’s self until they don’t think they can leave anymore.”

But unlike most depictions of abuse, Maid shows how complex the dynamic is between Alex and Sean, the father of her child. He is monstrous to her, but not portrayed as a monster, and instead as a man stuck in his own cycle of trauma and alcoholism. 

This helps viewers understand that though Alex must leave him, it isn't as simple or easy as if he was a caricature of pure evil all the time. 

The series also portrays an unflinching look at poverty and how exhausting it can be and how hard it is to get out of.

“I love the conversations that are starting, and I hope that they are seen through. I think there are a lot of people who have talked about being dedicated to help change the systems that are designed to keep people being abused — or people in poverty — in that cycle down and I would really love to see this show make active change and I think it has the potential to do so," Reid said.

Back on the Eagle Eye stage

In-person theatre is back at the Eagle Eye (located within Howe Sound Secondary) in November with a holiday performance that Reid is both co-directing and acting in. 

Once Upon A Cold Snap, by Squamish playwright Katherine Fawcett, takes to the stage Nov. 26 to 27 and Dec. 1 to 4. 

"I always and forever will love theatre and I always have a heart for community theatre, which is why I continue to do it, Netflix or not," Reid said with a laugh. 

"I have met some of the most talented performers and creators and designers I have ever known working for free because of their love of it, and that is what makes community theatre so cool." 

The performance consists of five short plays adapted from the Grimm’s Fairytales, but with a fun Squamish twist. 

"It is not really Grimm's... [Fawcett] does these hilarious hidden adult humour, child humour fairy-tale-like short stories that are very local — sometimes there will be references to landmarks or local places, but it is also sort of renaissance," she said, adding that the plays are definitely family-friendly with aspects that will tickle parents and kids alike. 

There will be live music and the work of local artists will be displayed on stage as backdrops for each of the plays. 

"We wanted to make something, because we have been so held down by COVID, that was a real celebration of local artists. So that is why we wanted the writer and the actors and the visual artists and the musicians to all be a part of this first show back," she said. 

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required. 

Buy tickets or get more information about the plays on the Between Shifts Theatre website.

Reid can also be seen in Sexy Laundry in the spring, a performance that had been set to take the stage in 2020, just as the pandemic shut down events.