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An Exclusive Interview with the Star of Pinna Original Mystery Series, Opal Watson Private Eye— Let's Chat with Maya Graves!

Opal Watson Private Eye season 2 is here!

Opal Watson is a young girl with a knack for solving mysteries in her neighborhood.

If you haven’t listened to season 1, now is the time. Opal Watson is a delightful podcast, perfect for kids (and adults!) of all ages.

To gear up for the second season of this exciting mystery series, Pinna sat down for a chat with the star, Opal Watson herself; or as family and friends know her, Maya Graves.

Interviewed by Nerissa Holder Hall, Opal Watson Private Eye co-creator and producer, Maya offers up fun tidbits about the making of the podcast.

Maya shares how she got her start as Opal Watson, a bit about the recording process, what she has in common (and what she doesn’t!) with her character, and more.

Let’s Chat With Maya Graves (aka Opal Watson!)

Nerissa: Opal Watson is a mystery series featuring an 11-year-old girl who started her own mystery solving business and who happens to be living with retinitis pigmentosa.

Over the course of this series Opal goes from being a girl who prefers to play it safe to one with the confidence and skills to try new and exciting things and explore new places.

I'll be talking to the star of the show, Maya Graves. We're going to talk today a little bit about your experience making the podcast, Opal Watson Private Eye.

Let's start at the beginning. Maya, can you tell us how you got the role of Opal?

And for those of you in the audience, Maya and I attend the same church in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and I guess we could say Maya was discovered one day during a Sunday service.

Can you tell us what you were doing that Sunday, Maya?

Maya: Yeah. So, every now and then the kids in the Sunday school at that church get to lead the service. I was asked to do the Benediction...sort of like the parting message at the end of the service, from what my mom told me.

You were in the audience and you thought I had a good voice.

Nerissa: Yes, you stood up and you spoke with such a clear and true voice that I got goosebumps, and I knew you would be perfect for the role.

Of course, to be fair, I knew that you needed to audition like everyone else.

And since you had never thought about acting before, what made you decide to audition for the role when your mom told you I was interested in hearing from you?

Maya: Well, I figured, “I’m going to try something new!” and I thought it'd be fun. And I was right. It was really fun.

Nerissa: So can you tell us about that auditioning process? What did you have to do to get the role of Opal?

Maya: I got an email with a few lines and I had to record myself saying those lines.

Nerissa: And did you make the recording on your own or did someone help you?

Maya: I had a little help from my mom. She helped me with how to act, like if I should act exhausted or energetic or stuff like that. But the recording, I did by myself...then I sent it in.

And this is the best part. I was at school one day and it was dismissal time, which means that there were students everywhere and the hallways were packed as usual.

I have permission to take the elevator. So, I was in the elevator when my phone rang. I thought I was going to be in trouble because we were supposed to put our phones on silent and I was with teachers in the elevator.

So I answered the phone and it was my mom. And she said, “Hello, may I speak to Opal Watson?” I almost fell down! I was so shocked that I actually got it.

Nerissa: That's amazing, Maya! That's a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing.

Natasha Tarpley, the writer of the series, and I had a lot of fun creating the character of Opal.

How was your experience playing her?

Maya: It was interesting. It was really fun at times, but at other times a little bit annoying because Opal and I are really different characters.

She's a lot more timid than I am. And it was really hard to play scared in episode one, because I wouldn't have been scared.

Nerissa: What are the things you have in common with Opal?

Maya: We’re both African-American and we're both blind, but I think I have a little bit more vision than she does.

Nerissa: Can you tell us about the experience of creating the special sound effects for Opal’s white cane?

Maya: Oh, that was interesting. The man who worked at the computer put a board, a wooden plank or whatever, down on the floor. And I tap my cane on it.

Oh, don't forget for one of the sound effects I had to eat potato chips in front of the mic. That was fun!

Nerissa: What was your favorite part of the process?

Maya: Oh, the satisfaction of when we were all done and when you put it all together...the satisfaction of going on Pinna and then hearing my voice on there. It was all worth it.

Nerissa: That must've felt amazing. What was it like hearing the show for the very first time?

Maya: I showed it off to a whole lot of people. I guess I might've been bragging just a little, but you can't really blame me.

Nerissa: No, I can't blame you at all. And what did your family say the first time they heard your show?

Maya: My mom was really happy for me. She was really proud.

I listened to it on my own. Then, I went up to show my mom because I was listening to it, here in the living room. And then I went up to show my mom because she was in her room. She was really proud of me.

I don't remember exactly what she said. It was a while ago, but I remember she was really proud of me and yeah, it was really enjoyable.

Nerissa: What has been the most surprising thing about this whole experience?

Maya: I thought I'd see the rest of the cast more, but I only saw them that one day of recording and the cast party. I thought it'd be recording with everybody else more. I wanted to get to know the people.

Nerissa: So we're writing season two of the show.

Maya: Oh...finally!?

Nerissa: So I can gauge a little bit from your reaction to that news what your answer to the next question will be, but how are you feeling about going back into the studio?

Maya: I'm so, so excited! I can't wait!

Nerissa: Well, thank you again. It's lovely to connect and I can't wait to see you in the studio!

The Wrap-Up

Did you enjoy this conversation with Maya Graves, star of Opal Watson Private Eye? For the full interview, click here.

Also, be sure to tune in for season 2 now!

We’re all ears!

What’s your favorite mystery series on Pinna? We’d love to hear from you! Find us on all our social platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest – or email us at contact@pinna.fm.

Amy Thetford

Amy Thetford

Amy is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom to her tribe of tiny humans. She's fueled by coffee and the desire to do ALL. THE. THINGS. She blogs about all things motherhood at realtalkwithamy.com