Maria Bakalova: How Much Is The Borat Star Worth?

Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova enjoyed a rags to riches Cinderella story when she landed the role of a lifetime. Most readers would recognize her as Tutar Sagiyev from the 2020 Borat sequel Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

As a little girl, Bakalova had envisioned herself making it in show business, but as she told Deadline via a Zoom interview in her native language, she had abandoned that dream. "I told myself, these are just childhood dreams. There haven't been any big Hollywood stars from Eastern Europe." In fact, the actress began to resent her Bulgarian accent and believed it would keep her from ever crossing-over to English-speaking movies.

That accent ended up being pivotal in securing Bakalova the part as Borat's teenage daughter, Tutar. Appearing on The Late Late Show in November 2020, Bakalova mentioned that over 600 women auditioned for the role. The Bulgarian had trepidation at first because the role was shrouded in secrecy, and she felt it may have been a scam. "It's not a real audition. They're going to try to, like, do human trafficking on me," she said (via ET Canada).

Eventually, Bakalova's manager was able to persuade her. "I called my manager and he was like, 'I promise you, they won't kidnap you, they won't sell your organs and they won't kill you,'" she told Variety in February 2021. 

The breakout performance led to overnight success for the actress.

Maria Bakalova became a star almost overnight

A bidding war broke out when word dropped that Sacha Baron Cohen was shopping the Borat sequel. Eventually, Amazon Prime secured the rights to stream the film after forking over $80 million, according to Collider.

According to Deadline in November 2020, Maria Bakalova's performance as Tutar Sagiyev earned immediate buzz, and only days after the movie started streaming she was signed as a client by the prestigious Creative Arts Agency (CAA). Her portrayal was so captivating it earned her a Golden Globe Award Nomination for Best Performance by an Actress – Musical or Comedy. The Bulgarian actress was shocked by her meteoric rise. "A person dreams and dreams and dreams but things are so unpredictable," she told Deadline months later. "It's incredible what is happening, I'm speechless." Although her schedule became busier after the success of the Borat sequel, Bakalova told the outlet that she would be open to reprising the role because she believes any film Cohen directs "will also have a strong message."

Bakalova had appeared on the TV series Tipichno in her homeland in 2015, and had several dramatic roles in feature films before landing the Borat Subsequent Moviefilm role, and is worth a reported $1 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In February 2021, it was announced that Bakalova would be starring in The Bubble. Per Variety, the film is a Judd Apatow-directed comedy about a group of actors dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic while filming, so it's safe to say we'll see that net worth climbing before long.