Venezuelan actress María Gabriela de Faría from the series Deadly Class opens up to People CHICA about overcoming panic attacks and becoming a mental health activist.
María Gabriela de Faría learned a lot from her role of Maria in the SyFy series Deadly Class. Maria is a Mexican cartel leader who is bipolar, and the character gave the Venezuelan actress, 26, the courage to speak up about her own struggle with anxiety. “I’ve been dealing with anxiety for so many years, panic attacks, and I never told anybody, not even my parents. I thought I was going crazy and I didn’t want people to worry,” she tells People CHICA. “When I was a little kid my parents would take me to the psychologist for therapy because I was having panic attacks even when I was five or six years old. I always felt like I was going crazy, that I was all alone in this.”
She says her fiancé helped her get over the panic attacks. “We talked it through and he really helped me out,” she recalls. “I kept hiding it from my friends and coworkers. At parties I would have a panic attack, and I would lie and say I was tired and had to go home. It’s taboo to talk about it.”
Thanks to Deadly Class, though, she got over the fear of disclosing her struggle and became a mental health activist. “Because of Maria being bipolar and knowing how bad that was for her, it gave me the strength to say, ‘I’m not going to lie anymore.’ The healing starts with being honest and shining a light for people who are going through the same thing.” Getting DMs and messages on Twitter from viewers expressing how much the role of Maria had helped them deal with their own anxiety and “the darkness inside them” made the actress realize the positive impact she was having on others.
De Faría, who began acting at five years old, left Venezuela at the age of 16 to work on a Nickelodeon show in Colombia, then moved to the United States at 19. She hopes to get married this December in Caracas, where her parents still live. “It’s our home and we love it,” she says of her native country. “[My fiancé and I] met there and fell in love there, and for us it’s a full circle.”
Having her parents still living in Venezuela in the midst of the country’s political turmoil and humanitarian crisis is a constant source of anguish for the actress. De Faría supports Venezuela’s interim president Juan Guaidó in his plan to get Nicolás Maduro out of power and establish a democracy.
“I fully support Guaidó. It’s been 20 very bad years for our country, and we’ve never had a leader like him that actually gave us results. We see things happening, the humanitarian aid came into the country, we got the attention of the international community because of him, so I’m really hopeful that he is going to take us out of this really bad situation,” she says. “Maduró and all those murderers that are in power right now, they don’t want to let go, so it’s going to take time and effort.”