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Aïssa Maïga at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival
25 May 1975
Aïssa Maïga was born in Dakar, Senegal to a Malian father and Senegalese mother. She and her mother left Senegal for Fresnes in France, where she lived until the age of nine. She showed an interest in movies at a very young age and was not satisfied being a mere movie-goer. On a school field trip to a theater, she was able to slip away from her teacher and make her way back stage. In high school she took her first acting classes with Daisie Faye, who today is artistic director of a Jazz and comedy festival that provides a more liberal curriculum. At the age of 14 and for three years, she was in The longest night (1992) a musical comedy by her teacher and during this time, appeared at the Mogador Theater and in the Follies Bergères
She graduated from high school after three years of study, including theater studies and worked on an artistic project in Zimbabwe, Eric Cloué’s Le royaume du passage. She was 19 years old. Working with local actors in Zimbabwe, she discovered street theater and decided to become an actress.
She made her feature film debut, appearing in Denis Amart's Saraka Bô. She followed that up in 2000 playing a rebellious young girl in Hanake's Code Inconnu, starring Juliette Binoche. Aïssa Maïga has developed her versatility by taking on such a great diversity of roles. In 1999, she worked with New Wave director, Alain Tanner, in the sequel to the 1975 cult film Jonas, playing Lila in Jonas and Lila.
In Alexandre Jardin's 2001 comedy, Le Prof, she worked with Jean-Hughes Anglade, playing a student. Then she worked with Murielle Robin and Fejira Deliba in Marylin, a film dealing with the social and economic insecurity and solidarity among cashiers. She collaborated once again with Haneke in Caché (2005), playing with Juliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuil and Denis Podalydès. She also appeared in several television series.
In her desire to consolidate all she had learned, she returned to her studies, this time with Hélène Cheruy Zidi, at the Actor’s Lab. Her perfectionism was well worth the effort. In 2007 she starred in two features, distinguishing herself in the role of Kassia in Kapiche’s Poupés Russes and in Claude Berry’s L’un reste,l’autre part. Aïssa Maïga made her mark on French cinema through a series of roles and fortuitous meetings with films such as Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas with Melanie Laurent and in Oliver Schmitz’s 2006 short feature by the Cohen Brothers, Paris, je t’aime.
In XXXX she was nominated for a Best Actress César for her role as Melé, a disillusioned bar singer in Abderrahamane Sissako’s Bamako. In this role she sang Christie Azuma’s “Naam” without knowing the language.
Although she had numerous film successes (Michel Gondry’s L’Ecume des jours, art films and comedies, i.e. Prête à tout, TV films such as Toussaint L’Ouverture, 2012), her popularity was not an obstacle to a return to the stage in Brooklyn Boy (2004), Les grandes personnes, adapted from the book by Marie N’diaye as well as in David Lindsay-Abaire’s Des gens biens.
She plays an African mother who tells the story of African intellectuals’ immigration through the lens of the life of French rapper, Kamini and his family in the 2016 movie Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont.
In 2012, she appeared in Cristina Comencini’s Bianco e Nero with Thierry Ebouaney, a performance that won her two awards: Cinema i Done and the Festival de Bastia award.
She was also on the set of Mickey Dubé’s Comatose in South Africa in 2016.
For several years, she has been the ambassador of AMREF, an African NGO dedicated to training medical personnel involved in caring for mothers and children. In 2012, she went to Uganda on a humanitarian mission.
With many projects on the horizon, Aïssa Maiga will be seen in 2017 in Eric Capitaine’s Love is dead and in Dominique’s Cornich de Kennedy where she plays a Marseille police captain and in Lucien Jean-Baptiste’s He has your eyes.
She was nominated for the Most Promising Actress at the 2007 César Award for her acting in Bamako. She was the first black woman to be nominated for a Cesar Award. At Bastia Italian Film Festival in 2009, she won the Best Actress award for Bianco e Nero. In Luchon International Film Festival, she was named Best Actress for her role in Mortel été (2013). In 2015, she won the best actress award at Globes de Cristal Awards for Prêt à tout.
- Saraka bô (1997) as Danièle
- La revanche de Lucy (1998)
- Le cadeau de maman (1998)
- Jonas et Lila, à demain (1999) as Lila
- Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages (2000) as Black Girl with Blonde Hair
- Le prof (2000/I) as Julie
- Lise et André (2000) as Esther
- Marie-Line (2000) as Malika
- Mom's Present (2000) as Farida
- Voyage à Ouaga (2001) as Loutaya
- Georges chez les tops (2002) as Gisela
- "Commissaire Moulin" as Dolly (1 episode, 2003)
- Les baigneuses (2003) as La soeur de Rita
- Mes enfants ne sont pas comme les autres (2003) as Myriam
- Libre armada (2004)
- Caché (2005) as Chantal
- Les Poupées russes (2005) as Kassia
- L'un reste, l'autre part (2005) as Farida
- Travaux, on sait quand ça commence... (2005) as La fiancée de Condé
- Bamako (2006) as Melé
- Je vais bien, ne t'en fais pas (2006) as Léa
- Mamadou il est ou (2006) as Mariettou
- Paris, je t'aime (2006) as Sophie (segment "Place des Fêtes")
- Prête-moi ta main (2006) as Kirsten Hansen
- Carcasse (2007)
- L'âge d'homme... maintenant ou jamais! (2007) as Tina
- Bianco e nero (2008) as Nadine
- Les insoumis (2008) as Kathia
- L'aide au retour (2009)
- Diamant 13 (2009)
- L'avocat (2010)
- Sur la piste du Marsupilami (2012) as Clarisse Iris
- Toussaint Louverture (2012) as Suzanne
- Aya de Yopougon (2013) as Aya (voice)
- Mood Indigo (L’Écume des jours, 2013) as Alise
- Prêt à tout (2014) : Alice
- Corniche Kennedy (2016)
- Il a deja tes yeux (2016)
- The African Doctor (2016)
- Love is dead (2016)
- Aïssa Maïga Elle
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