Maisie Williams sitting down with Varsity in St John's@camdiary

Known to most of the world as feisty and rebellious child turned fully fledged assassin, Maisie Williams, or Arya Stark to Game of Thrones devotees, has kept busy since the show finished filming earlier this year. On Tuesday she paid St John’s a visit to speak about her latest project – the social network app Daisie she co-founded – as well as offering insights into the beginnings of her career.

After her talk to an enthusiastic audience of students, one of whom was bold enough to ask who will make it onto the Iron Throne by the end of season eight, I sat down with Williams to talk further about her personal experience with social media, the changes she is hoping to bring about in the industry and her plans for life post-Game of Thrones.

Citing her story of being discovered at a talent show in Disneyland Paris as an example of the arbitrary nature of success and failure for young artists, Williams explains that Daisie was founded to encourage young people to see a career in the arts as achievable. With their collaborative, portfolio-based platform, Williams and co-founder Dom Santry intend to “promote people creating a profile for themselves as professional artists, rather than it being about what they do day-to-day, and letting the work that they achieve speak for itself”.

“Your exposure on social media plays a huge part in the jobs that you book … we’re seeing all these new industries being born from people capitalizing on internet tools”

With millions of followers on Instagram, and even her own Youtube channel, Williams has plenty of her own experience with social media. “Growing up with social media means that I know what I want from a social media and what I don’t want and I can see what works and what doesn’t work”, she asserts. Being aware of flaws within the industry has been crucial in in ensuring that Daisie doesn’t contribute to, but rather takes away, “the social competition that people feel they’re a part of in other social media”.

The role social media has come to play for young people trying to ‘make it’ was most definitely something Williams and Santry kept in mind when the idea for Daisie was developed. “Your exposure on social media plays a huge part in the jobs that you book … With the likes of Instagram models and Youtube and Vine stars, we’re seeing all these new industries being born from people capitalising on internet tools”.

As Williams charts new paths, I wanted to know more about her latest project, I and You, a Hampstead Theatre Production that will be broadcast on IGTV – owned by Instagram – for the world to see. The collaboration came about after the Instagram team watched the play on its opening night and were convinced that it was something that would resonate with IGTV viewers.

Williams with interviewer Sophie Weinmann@camdiary

Williams highlights how exciting it has been, not just to be “a part of something that’s kind of groundbreaking in both Theatre and IGTV”, but also to be able to make the play accessible for people from all around the world. Having opened up about not being able to afford drama school when she was younger, as well as the lack of support she received from her school when it came to balancing academic work and filming Game of Thrones, Williams has experienced first-hand how difficult finding a route into the industry can be for those without the financial means or contacts to get a foot in the door.

Watching professional actors on stage is often not a possibility for many young people, but the unique way of broadcasting I and You is an effort to solve that, and an attempt to make the industry more inclusive and democratic.

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Speaking candidly to a tightly packed room full of eager students, Williams opened up about her anxieties and insecurities, having experienced rejections early in her career. With regards to the process of pitching to potential investors for Daisie in San Francisco, Williams admits that “as an actor you do a lot of performing, but there is nothing more terrifying than being yourself”. At around the same age as many Cambridge students, Williams exudes an impressive air of confidence and certainty when it comes to Daisie’s future, and the market gap it intends to fill.

When asked about her experience going into business at such a young age, she tells me about a piece of advice she received from her mother, whom she had named earlier as her personal role model. Williams explained how her mother compared running a company to running a marathon, telling Williams “sometimes giving up is the easier thing to do mentally – not even physically, it’s not about whether you can do this or not physically – but mentally sometimes it’s easier to just go ‘oh I can’t do it’ than it is to just keep going.”

“See, if people don’t understand what I’m doing or want to put me in a certain box, then that’s not really someone that I like to strive for validation from anyway”

Williams continued reflected on this comparison. “I think that’s sort of very true with life as well. Sometimes it’s easier to just say oh maybe I’m not good enough to do this movie, I can’t achieve it, and it’s easier to put yourself down and be self-deprecating. But to really have the guts and the force to keep trudging forwards even on days that are really, really difficult, particularly in business, I think that’s what ultimately leads to success.”

Sending Game of Thrones fans across the globe into a frenzy, Williams documented her reunion with former co-star Richard Madden, who played Arya’s eldest sibling Robb Stark, on Instagram last month. In terms of staying in touch with the rest of the cast now that filming for the show has ended, Game of Thrones viewers will be happy to hear that, as Williams puts it, “you’re never too far away from anyone in this industry”. Many of the cast members came to see I and You, as well as showing their support for Daisie. Williams goes on to mention plans to see Kit Harington’s upcoming play True West and an elusive Whatsapp group chat used by the cast to stay in touch.


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Someone who didn’t hear Williams speak may find her visit to St John’s surprising, but the vulnerability and openness with which she spoke about her personal experiences with a panic disorder and sleeping problems, her family background and some of the more daunting parts of building a business made her talk valuable beyond what it offered Game of Thrones fans.

When I ask her about going into business as a young woman, what she says is a reflection on forging one’s own path. “See, if people don’t understand what I’m doing or want to put me in a certain box, then that’s not really someone that I like to strive for validation from anyway. I know that what I’m trying to do is something that is needed. I know there’s an audience for it. And so ultimately that’s all that matters.”

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