Maria Happel was born in the Spessart region in 1962. She had engagements in Cologne, Hanover and Bremen, was a member of the Burgtheater ensemble between 1991 and 1999, and then joined the Berliner Ensemble in 2000. In the 2002/03 season, she returned to the Burgtheater. In 2008, Maja Vukoje painted her portrait for the new gallery in the Burgtheater. In addition to her stage work, Maria Happel acts in numerous film and TV productions and is also an author. In 2012 she published her book "Das Schnitzel ist umbesetzt… Was bisher geschah". Maria Happel received the Kainz Medal in 1999 and the Nestroy Theatre Award in the Best Female Actor category in 2003. In 2005 the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation ORF named her Female Actor of the Year in the Audio Drama category. She received the title of Kammerschauspielerin in 2016. She can also futhermore be seen in numerous film and television productions. Since May 2020, Maria Happel has also been the director of the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. In summer 2021, she will also take over the artistic direction of the Reichenau Festival.