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Maisie Williams on TikTok, Saving Dolphins and Coming Into Her Own

By Lynette Kee

Maisie Williams is one of Cartier’s new faces for its Pasha de Cartier watch.
 
Courtesy of Cartier
Maisie Williams is one of Cartier’s new faces for its Pasha de Cartier watch.

It’s evening here in Singapore. The day is slowing down to an end, but the bright, clear voice of Maisie Williams rings through the all-black Zoom window, reverberating the midday Parisian energy, and I compose myself.

Amid a global pandemic with stay home directives, Williams and a few of her friends had decided to make the city of Paris their temporary home. “When the borders opened, we decided to come and quarantine here for a while because we love it here, and because none of us has jobs,” Williams jests.

Listening to her speak about her life experiences is rather surreal. After all, Williams is a 22-year-old young woman who grew up in the public eye. She started to act when she was 12 but was really pushed into the glare of the spotlight at 14 when HBO’s “Game of Thrones” premiered. In the eight years that it ran, the television series became an international phenomenon, and turned its characters into pop culture icons. And Maisie Williams, who played the gutsy youngest daughter of the House of Stark, was no exception.

Actress Maisie Williams has emerged from the screen with many industry accolades. Now, she is coming into her own, mentally and spiritually.
Actress Maisie Williams has emerged from the screen with many industry accolades. Now, she is coming into her own, mentally and spiritually.

As a teenager, Williams found herself having to forge her image and develop her identity under intense public scrutiny. “Socially, maybe I found it quite hard,” says the actress who spent puberty in castle sets and dodging enemies on horseback. “But I never really knew anything different [from this].”

In some ways, her age acted to her advantage. Perhaps she was too naive to be fazed or to feel inadequate. “I just wanted to perform for anyone who would watch me,” she digs at her memory to share about her “showing-off” phase. “It’s different now; I’m not quite so full of myself.”

It is clear that a decade of growing inside an enormous production like “Game of Thrones” changed Williams’s perception of life forever. “I learned so much about work ethic and about passion, and the sacrifices that you need to make for success from a very young age. For that, I’m really grateful.” And her confidence and professionalism belied her youth.

 

Maisie Williams’s confidence and her charm led to her being chosen as an ambassador for Cartier.
Maisie Williams’s confidence and her charm led to her being chosen as an ambassador for Cartier.

Now at 22 years old, Williams is an Emmy-nominated actress, entrepreneur and activist. Her next phase sees her stepping out from one of the world’s biggest pop culture franchises into the next, as she takes on a new role in the final instalment of the X-Men film series, “The New Mutants”, as the Marvel superhero Rahne Sinclair, or Wolfsbane. To Williams, it means leaving her comfortable cocoon to find out if her acting cache can carry off a Marvel movie.

When asked about inhabiting diverse characters, Williams admits to a habit of people-watching. “I love to watch people; I find them fascinating. Whether it’s walking down the street or in a cafe. When someone enters the room, what is it about their body language [that speaks about] them?”

These days, with stay-at-home orders at their peak, Williams has turned to the popular social media platform TikTok for entertainment. “TikTok is just so interesting to me, because you get to see the lives of these teenagers from around the world who are just entirely different from yourself. And I’ve been observing [them] because I do play teenagers a lot despite being 22,” says the diminutive actress.

“What I love about Cartier is that it has always been known for being daring, strong and bold, even before it was the popular thing to do,” says Williams; taking into account Cartier’s thoughtful consideration for interchangeable versatility, each purchase of its Pasha watch in steel bracelet comes with an additional leather strap.
“What I love about Cartier is that it has always been known for being daring, strong and bold, even before it was the popular thing to do,” says Williams; taking into account Cartier’s thoughtful consideration for interchangeable versatility, each purchase of its Pasha watch in steel bracelet comes with an additional leather strap.

This combination of easy confidence and inquisitiveness has come to define Williams’s career trajectory thus far, as she transforms from a child with almost zero experience into a feisty mutant. To Williams, the beauty of her job is the continuous chance to reinvent herself. “I’m still trying to look for my peers and people who I identify with,” she says.

Earlier this year, French luxury brand Cartier named Williams one of its Pasha de Cartier ambassadors (the other four being Academy Award-winner Rami Malek, singer Troye Sivan, singer Willow Smith and South Korea-based artist Jackson Wang). “These new Pasha ambassadors owe their success to their differences, creativity, connection, multidisciplinary talents and generosity,” says Arnaud Carrez, international marketing and communications director of Cartier International.

“I feel so proud to be associated with them,” says Williams. Despite running in different circles, each of these individuals represents some of the most powerful voices of their generation. And Williams’s message is loud and clear: In a world where anyone can become instantly famous, talent and hard work will last a lifetime.

Maisie Williams feels empowered by her fellow Pasha ambassadors, saying, “I look up to them all. I find them extremely inspirational.” Pictured clockwise from left — Rami Malek, Willow Smith, Maisie Williams, Jackson Wang and Troye Sivan.
Maisie Williams feels empowered by her fellow Pasha ambassadors, saying, “I look up to them all. I find them extremely inspirational.” Pictured clockwise from left — Rami Malek, Willow Smith, Maisie Williams, Jackson Wang and Troye Sivan.

Despite her reservations towards fame, Williams’s stratospheric success has naturally led her to a ton of recognition with over 11 million followers on Instagram. But she is concentrating on the opportunity it presents: a platform to give back. Williams is now integrating her growth with spiritual progress, rationality and individualism — with a deep feeling for community, as she references the Japanese concept ikigai, which translates to the value and purpose in life. “I feel very passionately about [having a] voice for the voiceless, like animals, the environment and the living world that we exploit daily,” she says.

As such, Williams has been closely involved in various initiatives, such as the Dolphin Project with fellow celebrity Harry Styles for the #DontGoToSeaWorldCampaign, and the “A Future World” campaign by English magazine Dazed, lending her voice to causes she believes in. She also puts her money where her mouth is — just a few months ago, Williams donated £50,000 to Bristol Animal Rescue Centre, which had lost all its income due to the ravaging pandemic. And that’s only one out of the many charities she has supported throughout her years as a young star.

“Putting my watch, my jewellery and my clothes back on at the end of each day centres me again.”

With so much upheaval going on in the world, Cartier remains true to its non-conforming spirit by releasing the new Pasha collection and putting new faces to its products; a vintage edition of the Pasha model that was originally introduced in 1985.
With so much upheaval going on in the world, Cartier remains true to its non-conforming spirit by releasing the new Pasha collection and putting new faces to its products; a vintage edition of the Pasha model that was originally introduced in 1985.

It is a struggle — doing the right thing — in this day and age. Being 22 and already so successful, Williams is well aware of her position and privilege. And so she leans closely toward the brands she associates with to guide her vision in the larger world. “I think Cartier is a brand that has embraced that,” she says, considering Cartier’s ongoing initiatives — empowering women and entrepreneurs; committing to being a socially and ethically responsible brand; and coming up with products which are designed to cater to both men and women. “It’s so wonderful that I get to share something like the Pasha watch with men and women because I’ve always seen gender as being extremely fluid,” she says, “It’s something I identify with and feel very empowered wearing.”

The latest Pasha de Cartier is a faithful reimagining of the original 1980s timepiece. Cartier deliberately designed the watch with a square minute track framed by a round case. With this campaign and others like it, Williams sees herself emerging as a legitimate artist — one that the public has not seen yet, as she continues to develop her talent and weight beyond the constraints of her career. As someone who spends most of her working day dressed in someone else’s clothes, something like a watch is extremely important to her. “Putting my watch, my jewellery and my clothes back on at the end of each day centres me again,” she muses. “It makes me feel like I’m back in my own life.”

At the end of our virtual encounter, it no longer feels like I am interviewing a celebrity, but an artist on the cusp of something big, and a curious being who, despite her maturity, carries the hopefulness of a child. “People are so passionate about changing the world,” she says. “It is such a huge statement, but I believe that we will.”