With 176 million copies sold, Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club is practically a rite of passage for young readers. Seeing the beloved characters come to life in the hit Netflix series has brought back fond memories for older generations, and helped introduce a whole new audience to the books, and the role models that fill their pages. 

Vancouver’s Malia Baker has won our hearts as the quiet and determined Mary-Anne Spier, or the meticulous secretary in The Baby-Sitters Club. In Ann M. Martin’s bestselling books, first published in 1986, Mary-Anne was white, but in the Netflix reboot, she’s bi-racial. It’s a choice that has allowed for more young viewers to see themselves on screen, while also opening up new narratives.

At first, Baker was nervous to step into the role, knowing how enormous the fanbase was, especially when fans—learning of the series—began to send in illustrations, drawing Mary-Anne as a caucasian girl with pin-straight hair. But once audiences were introduced to the revised role, Baker began to receive countless messages of appreciation. “I remember the first drawing of Mary-Anne that looked exactly like me. It’s hanging up in my room, and will always stay in my heart,” says the 14-year-old actor. 

Everything that readers loved about the books is captured in The Baby-Sitters Club series, but the Netflix show has been lauded for how it has introduced issues not easily found in television made for tweens. From supporting trans kids to conversations about race, body image, and mental health, the show is a shining example of how intersectional feminism can show up in kids TV.

Wanting to get to know the real girl behind our favourite character, we connected with Baker to ask her some things.

What was your favourite TV series or film when you were in grade 7? 

My favourite at that time was probably The Office… that feels like such a long time ago! 

Please share three things in your bedroom that you love. 

Three things in my bedroom that I love are my record collection, my bookcase full of my favourite books, and a pillow that my cat has claimed as his. 

What have you recently read or watched (other than The Baby-Sitter’s Club) that you can’t stop thinking about? 

I recently read The Darkroom by Marguerite Duras and I can’t stop talking about it! It should definitely be put on your to-read list, especially if you like annotating like myself. 

What childhood toy do you still own? 

A stuffed animal that was passed down by my mum onto me; his name is Teddy – I love that guy. 

Do you recall the first song you slow-danced to? Or a best guess? 

Oh good god, I think it was an Ed Sheeran song in the sixth grade. 

What posters hung on the wall when you were a young teen? 

The posters that hang on my wall right now are a bunch of artists like Tupac, The Beatles, Ramones, and Wallows. Knowing me, they’ll probably change in a few months! 

What does breakfast normally look like? 

Usually avocado toast and coffee for something quick and on the go, but sometimes I’ll spice things up with oatmeal (I know how rebellious). 

What is a talent you’ve always had? 

I’ve always been pretty good at art. I mean it’s subjective, so then again, everyone is! 

Tell us about a subject that you want to explore more deeply. 

I really love literature so I think it would be really interesting being able to have the opportunity to explore that realm more. 

Who do you look up to? 

As cliche as it sounds, my parents are big role models. Other than them, I look up to folks in the industry who also use their voice like Viola Davis, Zendaya, Emma Watson and more. 

Please share a place you think about often and in one sentence explain why. 

Home, Botswana. A good majority of my family is there and I haven’t gone back in a really long time, so it’s always somewhere in my mind. 

What does comfort food look like to you? 

Honestly, ice cream. I would have it at any time, and all the time, if I could. 

What do you listen to when you want to energize? 

I’ve had a good mix of music recently that is super energetic, like: The Rare Occasions, The Strokes, Joy Again and The Happy Fits, to name a few. 

What’s a perfect Saturday look like? 

Absolutely nothing, just sleep and rest. Then having friends come over to watch scary movies and make food all night. 

What does your cozy look like? (Baking? Weighted Blanket? Folding laundry? Drawing) 

My cozy looks like reading and listening to music. Those two combined are honestly equal to a huge hug. 

What was the last in-person concert you attended? 

I haven’t been to a concert in forever! I think the last one I was at was when I was around 9 and went to see Selena Gomez. 

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and go anywhere, where would you go? 

Europe, I would love to have the time to stay there and explore all of the countries. 

What item of clothing makes you feel the most you? Or maybe something you are just loving right now? 

My plaid PJ pants. I take them everywhere even though I probably shouldn’t. They’re just way too comfy to resist. 

What philosophy is currently guiding your path? 

Right now I’m really trying to live by “write the book you wish you had read when you were younger” and applying that to everything so that I am making my own dreams become reality. My work, my passions, my schooling and more. 

Who inspires you on social media? 

On social media the people that inspire me are Greta Thunberg, Viola Davis and Yara Shahidi. 

What nonprofit would you like to give a shoutout to? 

Canadian Roots Exchange. I love that this organization brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth together. Beyond raising awareness, CRE is opening up necessary dialogue, building bridges between the youth of Canada and ultimately working towards reconciliation, which is the only way forward. 

Follow Malia Baker on Instagram. Watch The Baby-Sitters Club on Netflix tonight.