Maisie Williams, star of television series Game of Thrones, visited Goldsmiths recently for a special event hosted by the Careers Service.
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Addressing an audience of more than 300 students, the actor reflected on her experience breaking into the film industry, shared advice for those wanting to work in the creative sector, and offered some general tips for how to stay motivated and overcome challenges.
She also discussed her new venture, daisie – a digital platform that aims to bring creatives together, helping to foster collaboration with other artists and provide an alternative route into the creative industries.
Here are just a few takeaways from the event.
1. Overcoming self-doubt
“Taking the Game of Thrones role was a risk – no one knew what the show was, no one knew what it would become, and no one was supportive at all. It’s easy when people are like that to start to believe them and to think: ‘maybe I shouldn’t be doing this?’. But I think when you’re that hungry and that determined to take risks and not play it by the rules, you take those opportunities that seem really bizarre and obscure. There are still moments in my life when I can’t believe what’s happened to me.”
2. Negativity can affect anyone
“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times that negative comments made me sad, because I think that happens to all of us. Yes, it hurts – of course it does, but no one wants to hear about it because you’re an actress. I really try to let negativity wash over me and just be honest with myself about what I want to achieve in my life and who I want to be. I’ve found that by doing more positive self-reflection it doesn’t hurt as much when people are negative, because you can see yourself – you know you’re being true.”
3. Don’t limit yourself
“There are a lot of things in life you can put a ceiling on, and for me, if I have that mindset I can make things worse for myself and stand in my own way. I’ve been in situations before where I’ve made myself so nervous and it’s affected how well I’ve done – I really recognised that and thought ‘I’m never going to do that to myself again’. There have been multiple times in my life when I’ve felt completely inadequate and out of my depth, and you can either stand in your own way and feel like that forever or you can bite the bullet and throw yourself into these opportunities.”
4. Celebrate your creativity
“Growing up I always felt like if you liked the creative arts you weren’t very smart. I always had this mindset that I was a bit stupid, and it’s taken me a few years to realise I’m not and I can do so much with my life. I think for the creative arts to be taken seriously is so important. If you have a passion for that you can find places like Goldsmiths where you find your people and can celebrate creativity.”
5. Public speaking isn’t easy!
“I feel like I’m two different people – who I am right now (speaking in public) and who I really am are very different. I think it’s okay to burst out of your shell and leave everything at the door, and if anything went wrong and anything was embarrassing, you can just cut that off and not take it home with you. And nothing that embarrassing ever really happens anyway. People want to hear what you have to say and, from my experience, people have been really supportive. Just showing the best side of yourself is so much more important than being nervous.”
6. Make the most of mentors
“Mentors have got me to where I am – collaborating, networking and meeting people. You can meet so many inspiring people and they have lots of great advice, and it’s important to really take that on board. There are people out there who are willing to mentor and are thrilled to pass on what they’ve learned, particularly in the tech world – people are so supportive. Plus, when you meet one they often introduce you to five more.”
7. Keep an open mind
In summarising Maisie’s visit, Katy Gordon, Director of the Careers Service, said: “Many of us will change careers a lot, and whatever you do, be determined while you’re doing it, but keep an eye out for other possibilities. Just because everyone says you shouldn’t, if you think it’s the right thing for you, try not to be scared. You’re already a success because you’ve made it to university – it’s about how much further you can go.”
“At the Careers Service we look to support our students in following their passions and help them get the careers they want – we’re always available and here to help,” says Ashley Bheeroo, Employment Engagement Coordinator in the Careers Service, and organiser of the event.
Whether you’re interested in starting your own business, freelancing, or getting a part-time job – or even if you’re not sure what you want to do – the Careers Service can help.