Columbus native feels more than fortunate to be a part of Christmas classic in Indy

Maria Argentina Souza believes in good fortune the way a wide-eyed child believes in Santa.

Every few minutes of a recent conversation about her lengthy stage career, from local to regional productions, the 35-year-old Columbus native now living in Indianapolis began a sentence with “I was lucky to … .”

She discussed meeting the right people at the right time, being in the right place, and on and on. The actress who plays The Ghost of Christmas Past, Mrs. Crachit and four other roles in Indiana Repertory Theatre’s latest production of the classic “A Christmas Carol” wears humility the way Scrooge wears irritability.

Even after she earned accolades as the troubled and complex lead character of June in Phoenix Theatre’s recent dramatic presentation of “Alabaster,” she sticks with a low-key perspective on her own talent — abilities she initially honed with then-named Mill Race Players.

“I’ve been fortunate sometimes to have had some nice things said about my work,” Souza said, speaking by phone from Indianapolis.

See there?

Yet, mom Tracy Souza of Columbus knows firsthand that her daughter has capitalized on more than luck to make her way in the arts — the very competitive arts, in fact.

“Maria has worked hard and sacrificed to do what she loves,” her mother said. “Since childhood she has wanted to entertain. It is a blessing to be able to do what you love. I think she learned that from both sets of grandparents.”

Those who never have been lucky enough to catch her performing live can catch snippets of her work on her professional website at maria-argentina-souza.com. In one of the first clips, she plays a character meeting a friend’s blind mate in a scene purposely meant to be unsettling. Souza portrays the awkwardness so realistically that most viewers will visibly squirm in their seat watching her character’s what-do-I-do-now reaction.

She graduated from Purdue University with a theater degree, and mentioned that her career sites never stretched as far as Broadway. Her background also includes a master’s of fine arts degree in acting at New York City’s Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University.

She left New York City in 2019 after 10 years “to be closer to family and to put down some roots,” as she put it.

“I’ve been very lucky to have been doing theater professionally ever since pursuing it in my undergrad years,” she said. “And I would love for it to continue to be a consistent part of my life. The Indiana and the Indianapolis theater scene is a place where there’s some really good work going on and some really good artists.

“I’m quite happy where I am right now.”

She has done independent film work and is open to do more. Interestingly, film is the only visual version of “A Christmas Carol” that she has seen. And that would be the 1992 release “The Muppet Christmas Carol” that she saw as a youngster (though she has read Charles Dickens’ work).

She laughed at herself.

“That actually has been a gift,” she said. “Because I didn’t have any preconceived notions of what anything had to be. I could just go in and create. And that has been nice.”

Lucky her.