A Girl deserves better than to be denied roles, and her fans deserve better than to be denied seeing her range after "Game of Thrones."
Maisie Williams, now 20, has been playing Arya Stark on HBO's biggest hit drama since she was 12-years-old. It hasn't always been easing growing up in the public eye. But she's now in her final year as Arya Stark, looking to her future as an actress. She told the Irish Times it's been a rude awakening to learn what aspects of that future are blocked to her, and why.
"It's only now I'm starting to realize the characters that are available to me because of the way I look and the characters that aren't available to me. It's a very shallow industry. And I don't look like someone who is cast in roles that are, well, sexualized. Don't get me wrong. I'm completely in awe of Hollywood's leading ladies. I love looking at those totally jaw-droppingly beautiful women. But I think it's sad that you only get to see one type of beautiful on screen."
Hear, hear. And can we add that it's refreshing that she's not taking the angle that she herself should have to change to fit into the existing industry? She recognizes the problem is on the shallow end: Judging performers primarily for a certain look instead of what else -- everything else! -- they can bring to a role. So many stars (male and female) end up just following the lead of casting directors and agents and try and change their looks to match the current expectations. Otherwise, they won't get work. Well, it's time the expectations changed.
Not that Maisie seems to be aiming for roles that are "sexualized," she just realizes that kind of sexy/hot archetype is what the casting folks want. This is not the first time she has brought up how the industry is still primarily focused on casting for "hotness," as if being "hot" is a personality trait of its own. Here's what she told the London Evening Standard back in 2015:
"There are a lot of roles that come in that are 'the girlfriend' or 'the hot piece' in a movie or TV series. That's something I've seen first-hand and read all the time. It will say 'Derek: intelligent, good with kids, funny, really good at this' and then it will say 'Sandra: hot in a sort of cute way' — and that's all you get. That's the way your character is described, so going into an audition you are channelling 'hot,' which isn't like a person, that's not who a person is. That's what I see and that's what needs to change. I've been lucky enough to play a very great female character from a young age, who is a fantastic role model for girls."
She saw that and spoke out about it three years ago when she was still a teen. That's such a good sign for the future -- if anyone listens to her. Jessica Chastain recently mocked the "hot" obsession in a funny "Tonight Show" video, showing it's not just Maisie who deals with that vague industry mandate.
Thankfully Maisie Williams is still getting roles, including in "The New Mutants," now coming out next year, and a voice role in "Early Man," which will be released in theaters on February 16. The final season of "Game of Thrones" will premiere in 2019.
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