Who is Daniela Vega? Meet the groundbreaking trans actress playing a rebel nun in The Power

An image of Daniela Vega alongside her character in The Power, Sister Maria.

Amazon Prime Video’s new sci-fi drama The Power has just dropped, and it features a commanding women-led cast, including trans powerhouse Daniela Vega.

The series is based on author Naomi Alderman’s novel of the same name, which became an international hit when it was released in 2016.

Its TV adaption dropped last week (31 March), and follows several lead characters as they navigate a new world where teenage girls have developed the power to electrocute people at will.

Lead characters include Toni Collette as Mayor Margot Cleary-Lopez, whose teenage daughter has developed the power, Ria Zmitrowicz as Roxy Monke, the daughter of a British gangster who uses the power to avenge her murdered mother, and Halle Bush as Allie, a teenager who flees her abusive foster family, escaping to a convent on the other side of the US.

Chilean actress Daniela Vega takes on the role of Sister Maria, and she’s pivotal to the development of Allie’s character throughout the series.

Who is Daniela Vega?

Daniela Vega might not yet be a household name, but she has already had a pretty illustrious career to date.

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The 33-year-old actress is best known for her lead role in 2018 drama film A Fantastic Woman, which, in a breakthrough for trans cinema, won an Oscar in 2018 for Best Foreign Language Film.

Considering her stand-out performance in the film, many critics were expecting Vega to receive a nomination under the Best Actress category, though this sadly didn’t come to fruition.

The film follows Vega as Marina, a trans woman and waitress dealing simultaneously with the death of her partner Orlando and her family’s incessant transphobia. 

Critics lauded Vega’s “multi-layered and emotionally polymorphous” performance, and the role catapulted her to a new level of recognition.

Also in 2018, at the age of just 28, Vega became the first openly trans woman to present at the Oscars.

Since her Oscars success, Vega has starred in Netflix drama Tales of the City, alongside Elliot Page, Bob The Drag Queen and Murray Bartlett.

She’s also starred in several Spanish-language series and films, including 2020’s The Pack and 2022 thriller La rebelión.

Vega’s role in The Power is her first English-language role in several years.

In addition to her acting career, Vega is also a trained opera singer, and in 2018 she was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. 

What is Daniela Vega’s role in The Power?

Daniela Vega stars in new drama The Power as Sister Maria, one of the nuns in the convent where lead character Allie stays after escaping her abusive foster parents. Sister Maria is Allie’s closest ally in the covent, with Allie confiding in Sister Maria that she talks to God.

Sister Maria also inspires Allie to embrace female figures of power in religion, teaching her about the influence Mother Mary had on Jesus.  

While Sister Maria isn’t trans in the novel, she is in the TV show – and it’s a development that author Naomi Alderman is “thrilled” about.

“I started working on this book in 2011. It’s been a long old journey. And conversations around diversity, around intersectionality, conversations in feminism, I think have moved on a lot,” Alderman told The Evening Standard.

Speaking about the addition of a trans character to the TV series, Alderman added: “That feels like something that readers certainly were asking me about. And I was just going, ‘Oh no, I just didn’t think about that.’”

What has Daniela Vega said about her role in The Power?

Not an awful lot, in honesty. However, Vega has spoken before about her trans identity and her future career aspirations as an actress.

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Vega explained why her role in the critically-acclaimed A Fantastic Woman mattered.

“The fact that I am trans provides the script and narrative with a higher level of truth. But, more importantly, it opens a door into the movie world that had never been explored before, because I am a trans actress playing a trans woman,” she said.

She’s also opened up about her experiences of violence as a trans woman, telling W Magazine: “In the past, when I was in school, I experienced violence. And also as an adult, after transitioning and while looking for work, I have also experienced violence. Art saved my life.”

While her career may be in its early stages, she has a clear vision of where she’d like to go next, too, suggesting that she’d like to take on more characters who are cisgender women.

“I would like to play a mother or a pregnant woman. My body of work can expand because I like challenges. I think I could play male roles. I don’t limit myself,” she told W Magazine.

She added that her dream would be to work with Pedro Almodóvar, who is currently directing a Brokeback Mountain rival, starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke. 

The Power is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.