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​A dance with dragons - Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams visits University

Maisie Williams speaks at University of Chichester

Tomboy Arya Stark may be in reaching-distance of the iron throne – but the journey to the top wasn’t as simple for actress Maisie Williams, as she reveals in a recent visit to the University of Chichester.



GAME OF THRONES actress Maisie Williams has it all: a starring role on one of the biggest television shows of all time, millions of adoring fans across the world, and now she’s at the forefront of a new technologically-innovative phone app.

But her life wasn’t always as comfortable as this.

“I grew up with four of my six siblings in a three-bedroom council house in Bristol,” she revealed to students at a recent visit to the University of Chichester. “I always had big dreams of becoming a dancer and even though I auditioned and got into stage school, I had no funding so couldn’t go.”

An award-winning actress by the end of her teenage years, Maisie’s short yet illustrious career has included leading roles in Doctor Who, a BAFTA-nominated Channel 4 thriller, and, above all, as the young tomboy Ayra Stark in the beloved HBO series.

Perhaps surprisingly, it was a childhood dream to become a dancer which set her on the path to stardom.

Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams to visited Chichester on Friday 18 January

“When I was younger, I would visit London’s West End with my mum, but we didn’t had any money for the shows, let alone acting lessons,” Maisie said. “Instead I trained between eight and 16 as a dancer in many styles. I still try to take classes when I can. Being able to dance really helped with the physical fighting scenes in Game of Thrones.”

The 21-year-old, who visited the University in January, spoke to Chichester’s BAFTA-nominated lecturer Dr Marisa Zanotti in front of hundreds of adoring fans, students, and creative artists about growing up in the international spotlight. Her visit was led by the department of dance, which has a nationwide reputation as one the UK’s best programmes for developing dancers and choreographers.

“It’s so difficult to break into the creative industries,” Maisie said. “Knowing what you offer and who you are is authentic and special. Hold onto that, be honest with yourself, and love yourself - don’t change yourself to be something else. One day it will be enough.”

Maisie Williams speaks at University of Chichester

It was a passion for helping others break into the “highly-competitive” creative industries which compelled Maisie to create the new aptly-named Daisie smartphone app. The platform, accessible on Apple and Android, encourages collaboration between artists to help them access alternative routes into the acting and dance sectors.

Maisie said: “Making your own pathway in the creative areas is difficult, so we created Daisie to help people find their feet in creative areas, whether that’s dance, theatre, or others. I’m not very tech savvy but I am still an artist who deserves to have a career, and so we’ve tried to make Daisie as accessible as possible.”

The Screen Actors Guild-nominated artist said she is now looking forward to life after Game of Thrones, which has been at the pinnacle of most of her working career so far.

Maisie Williams speaks at University of Chichester

She added: “For so long it felt like it [Game of Thrones] was going to end so I thought I might as well have as much fun as possible – and that goes into every decision that I make. I would love to do something on Broadway - that’s something that could be next for me.

"It is places like this [the University of Chichester] that the Daisie app will grow from. Everyday you get to create and work on something and be free and creative. My advice is to have confidence in yourself, as it helps you to stay true to yourself - this is what got me to where I am.”

For more about department of dance at the University of Chichester go to or follow it on Twitter at @uoc_dance.

Maisie Williams speaks at University of Chichester