The hit Netflix series ‘Maid’ is actually based on the the true story of this single mom

The Netflix show “Maid” has hooked many viewers since its release in October 2021, but many people are unaware that it takes inspiration from true-to-life events.

The ten-part series starring actor Margaret Qualley is adapted from Stephanie Land’s bestselling book, “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive,” which details her struggles as a single mom living below the poverty line with an abusive partner.

Netflix mini-series "Maid"

The book also highlights the painful reality of individuals who live off low-paid service work, a demographic that Land refers to as “invisible.”

Her book was published in 2019 and has attracted the attention of high-profile figures like President Barack Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris, and others.

“I wanted the book to be more about domestic violence and, and kind of the estrangement from family and then making it to college,” Land told TODAY.

Stephanie Land looking at physical copies of her book "Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive"

The autobiography recounts Land in her 20’s and 30’s as a financially-strained single mom who suffers from domestic abuse. Land worked as a maid to affluent families for six years in order to make her daughter’s life better.

She took odd jobs to put food on the table and provide structure for her child, who goes by their middle name “Story” and uses they/them pronouns.

When she couldn’t take the emotional and physical abuse anymore, she took her daughter and moved into a shelter for the homeless with only $100 in her pocket. Land said that she used to pretend she had a different kind of life, despite her best efforts to protect her child.

Stephanie Land and her daughter Story

Land was once dependent on seven forms government assistance to survive.

“If I focused on the portrait of the family I wanted to be, I could pretend the bad parts weren’t real; like this life was a temporary state of being, not a new existence,” she wrote.

Fast forward to 2008 and Land moved from Washington to Montana to attend college with Story. To pursue her dream of being a writer, she enrolled into a creative writing program.

“I knew that I would just be miserable if I didn’t at least try to be a writer, because I’ve known I was a writer since I was, you know, 10 years old,” she said.

Stephanie Land and her daughter Story

Land received her degree from the University of California in 2014. In 2014, she was elected a fellow at Center for Community Change Washington D.C. She wrote about her experiences as single mother of a poor child in 2016 for several websites.

Land received $500 for her first essay that went viral. Soon after, someone approached her with a book deal. This allowed her to quit other jobs.

Land fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and her memoir debuted at No. 3 on The New York Times’s non-fiction chart. When “Maid” premiered on Netflix in October 2021, it put her book back on the list, where it stayed for nine weeks.

Over 67 million people watched the series in its first four episodes. Despite the show’s success, Land said it wasn’t easy reliving the most challenging moments of her life.

Stephanie Land holding a poster of "Maid"

“It was really difficult, I think, because they got so many things right. It was just so similar to what I experienced,” she said.

It was especially difficult for her to watch the show with her daughter.

“At one point, they turned to me and said, ‘Was it really like that with my dad?’” she explained. “And I had to say, yeah, that’s pretty close to what it was.”

Today, Land uses her platform to speak up for “the invisible people who are struggling to survive.”

Stephanie Land with her husband and kids

She has been touring the country sharing her experiences and successes since the publication of her book. Land has also published essays about single parenting, domestic violence and social justice. To help aspiring writers, Land also founded a course in freelance writing.

Land has certainly come a long ways. She isn’t in constant survival mode anymore, and she happily lives with her blended family. Caroline has a daughter, Caroline, and two stepchildren.


You might follow Stephanie Land on Instagram TwitterVisit her website. 

Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for confidential support 24/7/365 if you or someone close to you are experiencing any form of relationship abuse. Text START and call 88788 to send a message, or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or chat online at