Breakout 'Borat' star Maria Bakalova conquers Hollywood

This image released by Amazon Studios shows Maria Bakalova, left, and Sacha Baron Cohen in a scene from "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm." The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for best musical/comedy.(Amazon Studios via AP) (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

So what did YOU do at 5 a.m. after staying up all night for your prom? Maria Bakalova became a movie star.

The 24-year-old actress has been telling the story of how she had a few free hours after partying all night (she’d just gotten her diploma) and before shooting a movie in a remote spot in her home country, Bulgaria. She made a few audition improv videos with her phone and sent them off.

The project was so secret, Bakalova has said she actually worried she was being recruited for human trafficking. But soon she was in London auditioning for Sacha Baron Cohen to star in his “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” as his yet-unknown 15-year-old daughter, Tutar.

Now Bakalova, living in Los Angeles, is the toast of Hollywood, nominated for a Golden Globe as well as a SAG award and Critics Choice award, and generating some Oscar buzz, too.

On the morning she heard about the Globes nomination -- a proud first for a Bulgarian -- an exhilarated Bakalova sat down for a Zoom interview, so excited that she had to calm down by reminding herself: “Be strong Maria, you’re a strong Balkan girl!”

(Interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

AP: How are you doing?

BAKALOVA: No words to describe how grateful I am and how excited. Just no words. it’s a mix of all of the emotions that you can imagine.