Baby Reindeer star Nava Mau opens up about being triggered by brutal scene: ‘I had physical recall’

Donny (Richard Gadd) and girlfriend Teri (Nava Mau) in Baby Reindeer.

Nava Mau, the trans star of Netflix’s new series Baby Reindeer, has revealed how filming the show’s transphobic attack scene affected her.

Mau plays Teri, an American therapist and trans woman in Richard Gadd’s seven-part drama.

The show, based on Gadd’s real-life experiences, follows his character, Donny, who is stalked online and in-person by the mentally-ill Martha (Jessica Gunning).

As Donny’s girlfriend – inspired by a real former partner – Teri gets embroiled in the harrowing situation, but vows to stand her ground when confronted by Martha in episode three, only for the scene to end with Martha tearing out a clump of her hair and screaming transphobic abuse at her.

Speaking to Glamour magazine, Mau said filming the attack was the element of the show she was most nervous about, and was worried she “would not be able to pull it off”.

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She explained that as a trans woman who has endured violent discrimination herself, she felt triggered by the experience.

“I had physical recall in my muscle memory from when I’ve been attacked like that,” she said.

The scene is one of the show’s defining moments, and despite the effort it took for her to relieve such violence, Mau is proud of how it turned out.

“I felt empowered in pulling off the fight scene… I conquered a lot of fears in this performance. There [were] some high heights and some deep depths that I had to go to, and I went to all of them. I couldn’t be more proud of that.”

Nava Mau wears a black dress and smiles while standing against a blue background.
Baby Reindeer star Nava Mau revealed the impact of filming the show’s transphobic attack. (Getty)

“It was such a blessing that I met Jess [Gunning] for the first time when we were doing our stunt training. And she was the most lovely person you could ever meet. She kept me cracking up. Non-stop. Those three days we filmed that fight, I was cracking up in between takes,” Mau said.

Much of the first half of the series focuses on the shame Donny feels in dating a trans woman and Mau revealed that being roped into “other people’s shame” is something she has also experienced.

“I had to work pretty hard to find the differentiating line between me and Teri. I related to her so much, and I deeply understood the dynamic between her and Donny, it was very familiar to me, from my own life, and from the people I know.

“I would love to hear a trans woman’s life story that does not include brushes with other people’s shame.

“In our day and age, a huge part of daily life for a lot of trans people is having to contend with other people’s shame and judgment. It’s almost a second language that I speak that fluently.”

Baby Reindeer is streaming on Netflix now.