‘Echo’ Star Alaqua Cox Explains How Her Childhood Trauma Prepared Her for the Role

Alaqua Cox was brand new to the Hollywood scene when she co-starred in Marvel Studios 2021 D+ streaming series, Hawkeye. After having only one high school play under her belt, the actress serendipitously came across a casting call for a deaf, Native American actress and decided, in her own words, “to go for it.” After landing the role of Maya Lopez, Cox‘s hard work and determination in the role impressed the Marvel brass so much that, according to executive producer Trinh Tran, they determined she’s earned the opportunity to “be a superhero in her own right.” That decision led to the development of the Marvel Spotlight series, Echo, which debuts simultaneously on both Disney Plus and Hulu on January 9th.

Echo represents the first Marvel Studios project led by a deaf and Native American and, due to some intense violence, is also their first TV-MA offering. As seen in Hawkeye, Maya Lopez grew up in the world of organized crime in New York; however, Echo is set to explore an earlier period in time in the character’s life and detail the trauma that led her and her father, William Lopez, to end up working for Wilson Fisk. During a global press event, Cox explained how her own set of difficult circumstances prepared her for the role of Echo.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ Echo, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Well, we’re similar. I was raised with some trauma. We both have childhood trauma, of course, that we’re raised with. And it was different, of course. For example, I grew up, as you know, I am an amputee. So, I went through many different kinds of surgeries as a child. And so, that made me a warrior, in a sense. And her, Maya, she had the death of her mother, and all these tragic events that happened in her life. So, we both have different traumatic experiences. So, it kind of makes us very similar in a way because we’re both warriors, and we’re tough, and we’re badass, and I believe that’s how we’re the same.

-Alaqua Cox

While Cox certainly faced–and overcame–significant trauma to end up starring in her own Marvel Studios series, her childhood wasn’t defined by it. The actress, who grew up on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin, credits a life full of athletics, along with growing up with an older brother, for toughening her up and preparing for the physical role.

Luckily, I grew up playing different kinds of sports as well,” said Cox. “Plus, I do have an older brother who helped me become more of an athlete, because he’s very much an athletic person. We’re about a year and a half apart, so we wrestled growing up. So that toughened me up. And then, when I did get the role,” she continued, “I had a stunt training team. About five days a week I would go to the training, and it was a lot. I learned so much as well. ‘Cause growing up in sports, there wasn’t a lot of stunt-specific things in sports, so stunt training was a whole new world to me. And I was able to learn choreography, jabs, fights, and those specific moves, and that was so fun, and very challenging as well. But that was the greatest part of the project. So, it was a fun journey for me.

As seen in the trailers and promotional footage for the series, Cox did quite a bit of her own stuntwork for the series, including a one-take fight scene similar to those featured in Netflix’s Daredevil series. See how Cox’s determination and hard work has paid off when Echo debuts on January 9th.

About Echo

Marvel Studios presents Echo, spotlighting Maya Lopez as she is pursued by Wilson Fisk’s criminal empire. When the journey brings her home, she must confront her own family and legacy. Echo stars Alaqua Cox (Hawkeye) as Maya Lopez, as well as Chaske Spencer (Wild Indian, The English), Tantoo Cardinal (Killers of the Flower Moon, Stumptown), Devery Jacobs (FX’s Reservation Dogs, American Gods), Zahn McClarnon (Dark Winds, FX’s Reservation Dogs) and Cody Lightning (Hey, Viktor!, Four Sheets to the Wind), with Graham Greene (1883, Goliath) and Vincent D’Onofrio (Hawkeye, Daredevil, Law & Order: Criminal Intent), who returns to the villainous role of Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin.

Episodes of the series are directed by Sydney Freeland (Navajo) and Catriona McKenzie (Gunaikurnai). Executive producers are Kevin Feige, Stephen Broussard, Louis D’Esposito, Brad Winderbaum, Victoria Alonso, Richie Palmer, Jason Gavin (Blackfeet), Marion Dayre and Sydney Freeland. Co-executive producers are Jennifer L. Booth and Amy Rardin. Marvel Studios’ Echo launches on Disney+ and Hulu Jan. 9, 2024.

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