In the latest edition of our weekly series, we meet the rising actor and director you need to know...
It’s not often that an actor’s first IMDB credit is a major Hollywood blockbuster, but then it’s not every day you find a talent like Maisie Richardson-Sellers. Back in 2015, Maisie entered the scene as a member of the Resistance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens before progressing further into the realms of fantasy, action and adventure. Starring in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, as well as the hit five-year series The Originals, the young actor has gone from strength and genre to genre. Daughter of theatre actors and London born and raised, Maisie Richardson-Sellers proved her multi-faceted capabilities by graduating from Oxford with a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology before seamlessly launching her screen career. Up next, she’s taking on a role in the long-awaited Netflix sequel The Kissing Booth 2, and so we catch up with the vibrant star to find out how she found her way to the silver screen and where she’s off to next…
Do you remember the moment you fell in love with cinema?
When I was five my mother showed me West Side Story, and I fell head over heels in love! I watched it at every chance I got. It opened the door to the possibility of diving into other worlds through film, and that magic has never gotten old for me.
Did you have a cultural upbringing?
After studying anthropology, I realised it is impossible not to! No matter where you were raised, you are a part of a cultural context. Growing up in the Western World, the Eurocentric viewpoint is so dominant and normalised that it can be hard to see the nuances within it, but the more you learn about the incredible diversity within and between societies, the more you become aware of the cultural biases and practices within your own environment.
Was there a moment you knew you needed to become an actress?
For me, it was less of there being one moment, and more of a gradual building curiosity. Both of my parents are actors, so I grew up watching them perform and doing my homework in dressing rooms. I remember when I was ten, I read the play ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf’, by Ntozake Shange, and it shook me to my core. I wanted nothing more than to bring these characters to life, and it was the first play I directed and performed in at Oxford University. Storytelling has such a transformative power, I knew then that that’s what I wanted to spend my life exploring.
How does it feel to be an actress in the current socio-political climate? Does it feel like a positive time to be creating?
Definitely! Despite (and perhaps because of) the current climate, there has also been a surge in the calling for positive diverse representation on screens. Gradually we are also seeing more female and POC filmmakers, which is so important, because even if a cast is diverse, if the people creating and writing and directing the projects are not, we risk getting two dimensional, stereotypical depictions, rather than authentic, nuanced, characters that help challenge and change social consciousness. However, we still have a long way to go. We must be careful not to get complacent due to the positive changes that are happening in some sectors of Hollywood, and assume that they are representational of the industry as a whole.
Do you think film and the arts have the power to cause social change?
Hugely. For the majority of the world, exposure to people from different racial, cultural or religious backgrounds, gender identities, and sexualities isn’t a reality in their daily lives. As a result, it is through the arts that they meet and begin to normalise these differences. Through positive exposure, I believe we are able to challenge prejudice and push for acceptance and love.
If you could only watch one film for the rest of your life what would you watch?
This answer is ever-changing for me! Right now I would say Moonlight. From a performance, script, directorial and cinematic perspective, I adore this film.
Who are your must-follows on Instagram?
@becauseofthem for your daily feel-good tear-jerker, @womenshistory to learn about incredible women often left out of history, and @shethority – a female (trans and nonbinary inclusive) empowerment platform started by myself and some of the other women in the DC superhero universe.
What would you like to see less of online?
I would love to see less focus on beauty ideals and self-promotion, and more focus on advocacy, uplifting others and socio-political engagement.
What’s your personal relationship like with social media?
Personally I rarely go on it as I don’t have any interest in seeing or presenting only part of a story through rose-tinted glasses. But I do love when social media is used to push for positive change, create community, or raise awareness of topics being under-reported.
What’s next for you?
I just wrapped filming Netflix’s The Kissing Booth 2, which was so much fun! That will be coming out spring 2020. I started filming season 5 of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow this week, which is madder and whackier than ever. I will also be releasing my screen directorial and writing debut, Sunday’s Child early next year, which was such a fantastic experience to create. I can’t wait to share her with the world and to further explore directing.
4 October 2019