Maisie Williams speaks to the Courier

Editor Louise Hall speaks to actress Maisie Williams about her new app, creative industries and life after Game of Thrones.

Louise Hall
11th February 2019
Maisie Wlilliams

So Maisie, you came along to Newcastle University Students’ Union last week to tell people about your new app Daisie. 

For those who didn’t manage to get into the highly popular event can you tell us a little bit about the app and why people should download it?

So we wanted to create a social platform for artists to be able to connect with each other. In the creative industry people always say it’s not what you know it’s who you know and when you don’t know anyone it makes it really difficult to make a start within the industry no matter how talented you are.

We thought if you had some sort of platform that was portfolio based but then you could also discover new people and collaborate on new projects that maybe we would be onto something that could benefit people in the real world.

Since then the idea just got bigger and bigger and more and more ambitious but that idea was really the basis of Daisie.

What do you think that Daisie offers students that’s different to other social media platforms such as linked in? What makes it special?

I think the fact that we are so visual, and we capture so many things that apps are already doing like asset stories where you can use things such as we transfer and linked in where you can really connect with new people and like Instagram where you can display your work beautifully. But we’re all three of these things in one platform. So it just makes it that much easier to plan projects and to create with new people when you can do it all on one platform.

We also wanted to be different in that there’s so many social Medias right now that are really trying to change their ways ethically. No-one knew that the concept of ‘followers’ would end up becoming something that teenagers would be killing themselves over getting enough of and likes would be something that are so sought after.

People always say it’s not about how many likes you’ve got on Instagram and that’s not important in the real world but really get paid a lot of money if they get a lot of followers or likes on a picture that’s sponsored by someone. So we say it doesn’t matter but we actually reward people for this sort of behaviour.

So we wanted to really make a change with Daisie and reward people with something called reputation which is a number we calculate from a lot of different data so it’s not just how many followers you have but it’s your contribution to the app and how many assets you upload and how many people you reach out to and how many messages you send. Having something that’s far more about contributing to the community that’s what we want to reward people with, we think that’s far healthier.

In terms of saying goodbye to Arya I feel like it’s a really good time, it’s been ten years so I feel ready to move onto something new.

In your talk you spoke a lot about the struggle you faced trying to get into the industry and how that struggle also affects those around you. Do you think creating Daisie is a big step towards changing that culture or do you think it’s a greater societal issue?
I think there’s been a huge shift anyway within the industry, and that it’s changing all the time. There were times that people who had accents were never on the television you know and the Queens English was the only thing we would see and hear. Obviously its changed a lot since then but there’s still so much further to go.

I think more and more often that people are sick of waiting for these massive companies to start making more diverse movies and they just start creating them themselves and we just really want to facilitate that and make that easier for people. People constantly ask like are there going to be agents on Daisie who are going to be giving people careers? But part of me is like think bigger than that, think wider than just playing into the system that we already have. Think about smashing down those boundaries entirely and creating things because you know there’s an audience for them.

People aren’t creating these movies because it’s not something that they think is marketable but if you know there’s an audience for, it being able to find those people create something amazing and then create your career from that just cuts out that whole middleman. It becomes less about who they deem are talented enough and becomes more about your own work ethic.

I really just stepped into a new industry and you start to realize like: oh everything I thought I knew, that’s not everything.

Have you found that your background as an actress has helped or hindered you in making the jump from acting to entrepreneurship?

I think I’m very passionate, and as an actor you’re very in touch with your emotions and I am a very passionate person so I think that has benefited me talking about Daisie with investors. Like people always say things to me like ‘you make a very compelling point’ [laughs] and I’m like saying thank you while I’m crying, no I’m kidding. I don’t cry [laughs].

I don’t know that being famous has necessarily helped me, I think it’s actually hindered me more than anything because there’s so many celebrity endorsed apps or whatever that suck and don’t do well. So it doesn’t necessarily mean the app is going to do any better, and investors were the first people to tell me that and shoot me down in that sense.

I think in terms of now being an entrepreneur I’ve just learnt so much more about the world, I knew so much about acting and that world but I really just stepped into a new industry and you start to realize like: oh everything I thought I knew, that’s not everything. That there are bigger things in the world so yeah I’ve learnt a lot and the acting has definitely played into it.

Speaking of which, I think it’s safe to say most people would probably recognise you as Arya in game of thrones. The last season is coming out in April, so after 8 seasons how do you feel about leaving that journey behind and starting something brand new?

In terms of saying goodbye to Arya I feel like it’s a really good time, it’s been ten years so I feel ready to move onto something new. People kept saying to me when Game of Thrones finishes you’ll be twenty one and you’re going to have so many opportunities. I think in the last six months I’ve really started to understand that and think what do I want in life? And I want more than just being an actor I think, I want so many things in my life so it’s been really fun just pinpointing what those things are. And yeah it will be really sad to say goodbye to Arya but I just feel so inspired to do other things.

You were very open in your speech about how you yourself have a panic disorder. This topic of mental health is a big issue facing students at university right now so do you think it’s important to break down that stigma that surrounds mental health when you speak about your own experience?

I just try to be as transparent as I can, it goes a long way just being honest with people. I find it really helpful just being honest because it makes me be more honest with myself and I think that’s truly one of the greatest missions that I’ve ever tried to embark really, just trying to be as honest as I can with myself and figure out why I am the way I am and why I say the things I do. You just learn so much about yourself and the world.
I think all I want from other people is for them to be transparent with me and really show me who you really are and I think you can try encourage people to do that by doing it yourself.

So to finish I just want to ask what you’ll miss the most about Game of Thrones and what are you most excited about for your future?

I will miss people being like “are you Arya Stark?” because she’s such a cool character and people really freak out about it and that’s so exciting. The worst thing will be people going “did you used to be on that show?” [laughs] because that’s gonna suck. That will suck so bad. Because when I started you know like Breaking Bad was the big thing and if you saw Bryan Cranston now you’d be like “oh you used to do that show?” and he went from being like ‘the man’ to, yeah. So that’s gonna suck. But I’m most excited to do new things.

You can download Daisie on the Iphone appstore now.

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