So how does a farm girl end up on television?
“It’s usually not what people want to hear,” Klaveno says in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “It takes years — years. If you don’t have crazy family connections, the reality is it’s going to take years to build relationships, build credit, get that agent and get in the casting door. It involves a lot of heartbreak and so much rejection you can’t even conceive.”
And that’s coming from someone who’s considered successful in the industry.
Klaveno says she can’t remember a time she decided she wanted to act; it was just always there. As a girl, running around on the farm, she was always acting out a scene she’d just seen on TV or she would make up her own.
“It was always there, but I was secretive about it,” Klaveno says. “It’s a crazy thing to try to pursue — there’s no one (in Endicott) to go to, no one who has done this before.”
But a high school English teacher saw it in her and encouraged her to pursue the dream. She also had family support. Once her mom knew she was serious about acting, she took her to an acting class through the Spokane Civic Theater, an hour-and-a-half away. After high school, Klaveno graduated with a bachelor of arts in theater from the University of Washington, then headed down to California.
In L.A., Klaveno began the long, hard work of making connections and auditioning. She landed her first TV guest star role in 2004, but it took until 2008 until she secured a recurring role in “True Blood.”
“It’s not as glamorous as people think,” Klaveno says. “They see you on TV and they think you’ve made it. But that was one job, that was one paycheck.”
Klaveno explains that two main roles a year can be a good year. Films take four to six weeks to film, filming a season of TV shows takes longer. But in between is a lot of waiting.
“There are months and months of waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for an audition. That’s the hardest part,” Klaveno says. “The downtime can be really destructive to your psyche.”
For now, though she’s busy. Klaveno is in the middle of filming the first season of “Stalker.” The show premiered this year in October, and centers on a division of the Los Angeles Police Department that investigates stalking cases. The show reflects a real-life rise in stalking cases, thanks to social media, says Klaveno, and the situations it portrays gets audiences on the edge of their seat.
“I love this character,” Klaveno says. “I’m loving my co-stars and I’m loving that the audience seems to be responding.”
Production for the show began in July and is about five episodes ahead of what airs on TV, so she has a few months of work ahead of her. After that, things are back up in the air.
Given the challenge uncertainty brings to her career, why does she do it?
“There’s nothing else that makes me feel — and this is going to sound cheesy now — so alive,” Klaveno says. “When I’m acting, I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
And that’s something that has to be true of any actor who sticks around, Klaveno says.
“You have to give it your 100 percent,” she says. “That’s not what anyone wants to hear. You should only do this if it is the only thing you want to do. If you have a Plan B, then go with Plan B.”
Where you might have seen Mariana Klaveno:
Leading or repeat roles: “True Blood” (2008-2010, 2012), “Devious Maids” (2013-2014), “Stalker” (2014-present)
Telefilm: “Final Approach” (2007), “While the Children Sleep” (2007), “Innocent” (2011), “No God, No Master” (2012), “West of Redemption” (2014)
TV Guest Roles: “Alias,” “Laws of Chance,” “Standoff,” “K-Ville,” “ER,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” “Dexter”