Maisie Williams the actor. Maisie Williams the creator. Maisie Williams the dancer. Maisie Williams the strong young woman.
Lets face it, if you haven’t heard of Maisie Williams, where have you been for the past ten years? You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to know her name, or her face. Although we don’t know much about her at all, apart from what is said on Wikipedia or in your simple google search.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the actress before her talk at the University of Stirling with thanks to the Communications, Cultural and Media Studies department.
I would say that it is easy to be intimidated in this kind of situation, a student journalist interviewing a worldwide known artist. However, she couldn’t have made me feel more relaxed and at ease. Waltzing into the tiny room we had been allocated, with a flash of pink and a friendly smile “Hi I’m Maisie!” as she reached over the table to shake my hand.
The first question I had for Maisie was about her transition through life as a normal school-girl into Game of Thrones and further into her TV career and now onto the production of her own app and social media developments through Daisie.
“I think you know like for everyone’s success, there is the other side of it, the crying into your pillow” she said laughing, “when your 15 years old going like WHAT IS GOING ON!”
“I’ve definitely had like ups and downs being able to balance my life with a normal life has just been something that I’ve been figuring out over the years because the reality of being an actor and all the perks that come with it, it’s hard to keep a normal life when you try to make that your reality, just trying to keep the balance has been really important.”
She explained further how it’s almost as if she’s “graduated from university” now, finding that next step is what moved her into Daisie.
“I think some people think I’m a little bit mad and I tend to agree.”
As she explained her want for a normal life, as impossible as it must be at times, I asked her how hard it was to adjust from being Maisie Williams from Bristol, to becoming Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones.
“It’s just the transition period between the two, you know like when you go on holiday and it’s like amazing and you have the best time and you come home and you have two days and you’re like oh my god! It’s like that but every time I went away and i’d go away so much and you know it was really fun but you’d be like oh I miss my friends and my normal life, but this is really great so make the most and really enjoy it. Then i’d get home and be like wait what am I, the transition period is what id struggle with but my mum would always help and be like you know you just have a few sticky days when you come home I’m like ‘awh I know'” as she pretended to cry.
“I think as I’ve grown up, like I had a job at 12 and that was strange but now everyone has responsibilities and has grown up so its not so weird anymore. For me a bad day at school wasn’t just a bad day at school it was filmed and the rest of the world can see it for the rest of my life so yeah that pressure was weird to balance but I think I was just so young.”
Growing up is hard enough as it is, but being in the public eye, i’m sure doesn’t make it any easier. As a young woman I was interested to find out what, if anything, held her progression in this industry back.
“I’ve always had a pleasant experience in this industry. What I always faced was like being young, the prejudice I hated was being treated like a child, I didn’t feel like a child because I was treated as an adult. It was just a weird balance, I think people didn’t know how to treat me because I wasn’t like people my age, also getting paid as a child, even now were still trying to break out of that, making that transition and getting people to take me seriously, for a 21 year old to come into this right now in a leading role might be treated differently from me because I’ve been working since I was younger and trying to up the fees.”
When talking about her agent Maisie explained, “I’ve played a lot of leading roles and she’s very conscious of what other people in lead roles are being paid. It’s not really about that for me but it’s the respect that is what is most important.”
How does an Emmy nominated actress then move on to creating an app, a platform, for creative people to further their own careers without the usual “its who you know not what you know”?
“We’ve already seen a really slow movement within the industry, with the ‘Me Too movement’ starting to make big big blockbusting movies about more diverse people. It’s happening but it’s just taking so long and I think giving the power back to creative people that just really want to make these interesting things and have no rules to conform by. I think it is really exciting, I think it is something that will be successful. A lot of people ask how did I get to where I am or how did it happen and I never really had any good advice because it was such a strange series of events. I guess if I never had the opportunity that I had, then I would have been fresh out of uni thinking what am I going to do with myself. I think that being able to have platform where you can find people like yourself would have been good for me.”
Daisie is launching part two of the app in April, it’s not hard to see the passion when Maisie is talking about her creation, she lights up when discussing it and the act of helping others really seems to be the selling point of this project.
As for anyone in the public eye, that pressure of being a role model, someone to look up to or to be an inspiration is always floating around. anyone can be a role model but when it’s put upon you to be one, how does the pressure affect your life?
“It’s a lot of pressure. There was a time I had to think ‘ do I want to be a good role model or be myself.’ Sometimes those two things go hand in hand but sometimes they don’t. I had a real sit down with myself and there’s no worse role model than being someone who isn’t yourself. If I make mistakes I’m not going to pretend to be someone else because you are just going to get found out to be something that you are not.”
“When I was 16 years old I was smoking, there are pictures of me smoking cigarettes; I’d just honestly rather be me, make mistakes and hold my hands up than pretend to be someone perfect and be found out. That’s just a bad role model for young girls. It’s unachievable and nobody is really like that. We get to portray ourselves in the media and show what we want to show, and not show what we don’t. There are scandals all the time. Nobody can really be like that; nobody can be that perfect and I just think it is a lot easier to be myself. It is kinda scary as it means you are open to people being like ‘you’re terrible’. There’s that sort of pressure in everyone’s life; me with fame is like me with my little niece, it happens at every level of life.”
I think there is something to learn for everyone here. To be a role model you’ve got to be who you truly are.
As we finished the interview, I asked her, Whats next?
“Daisie- I want to make that successful. There are a couple of indie films with some really interesting directors I want to work with. A whole range of genres: a psychological thriller, a real drama, then a TV show that is a real dark comedy. A couple of bits rumbling about, I just need to reply to my emails” she laughed.
I learnt a lot from sitting down with Maisie Williams, she inspired me to be who I am regardless of who is watching, and always do what is right for you. I attended her talk later in the afternoon and again she expressed herself in a way that was so relatable to everyone there. It’s easy to forget that a 21 year old woman is standing up there, world famous and killing it!
“We are connected, we are aware and we are the future!”