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Guest speaker Maisie Williams encourages creative collaboration

Maisie Willliams

Maisie WillliamsIf you’ve ever declared your desire to “enter the creative industries”, “audition for roles”, or “showcase your portfolio” upon being asked about your career plans, you’ll be familiar with the uncomfortable grimace with which such ambitions are often rewarded. It’s an unfortunate truth, but pursuing the arts is often portrayed as a game of chance – and one which rewards luck, rather than skill.

Obviously, this stereotype is incredibly damaging (not to mention disheartening) to any amateur artist – and its perpetuation hurts the industry as much as it does the individual. Actor, Maisie Williams is out to correct this conception of the creative industries, one project at a time.

Fostering talentMaisie Williams talk

Coming to Durham is obviously a wonderful opportunity for anyone with a vision. Not to blow our own collective trumpet – Durham University Brass Band do that well enough on our behalf – but if you’re looking for talent, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to search. Whether you’ve a taste for theatre, a knack for knitting, or paint with panache, there’s a society which will allow you to showcase that skill. Durham actively fosters creative talent at many levels, be it through colleges, through student-led groups, or even through the careers service.

Hence why, on one cold evening (one could even suggest that ‘winter was coming’), the University was graced with the presence of Maisie Williams. She may have risen to fame thanks to her role in Game of Thrones, but I doubt that those 10 years of experience could have prepared her for the Game of Seats which ensued in the lecture theatre. Students piled in until the room was at maximum capacity – and then some. Predictably, the excitement in the air was tangible.
What I hadn’t expected was that so much of this excitement would radiate from Maisie herself.

Perhaps it was her passion for her industry, or perhaps she could sense the skills within the room – or perhaps a bit of both – but Maisie was evidently enjoying being with us in Durham. As she regaled us with an insight into her path into the artistic world, it became clear that her own story came with an important message: it is never how full your glass is that matters…because the way light refracts all depends on the angle you look at it from.

Turning negatives into positives

Maisie Williams Although this adage reflects a truth that we all know (indeed, it risks seeming like a trite platitude) Maisie maintained its veracity in relation to her own journey. Indeed, having herself experienced a deviation from her original Plan of Attack – in the form of an unexpected swerve from dancing into acting – she highlighted how challenges may blossom into opportunities. After all, the diversion caused by a roadblock may actually cause you to find the path you’re intended to take.

Nevertheless, it’s important not to diminish the difficulty of entering the creative industries; as Maisie admitted, networking, connections, and collaborations are vital to success. However, this struggle doesn’t sit well with someone who describes herself to be ‘raising hell’. This challenge, she insisted, does not need to be passively accepted: it can be turned into an opportunity.

daisie encouraging creative collaborationMaisie Williams

For Maisie, this opportunity takes the form of her app daisie, a social network for creative collaboration – levelling the playing field by enabling artists to connect freely.
Indeed, this proposition could not have made more sense than in any other context. As we looked at the packed room surrounding us, we realised what Durham students share (other than, of course, an admiration for Maisie Williams): talent, and a willingness to put it into motion.
All that we have to do, as Maisie insisted, is to decide not to settle. Collaborate, co-operate, and create – because, if the creative industry is built upon networking, it’s high time we started weaving our webs.

Find out more about opportunities to be creative and collaborate with like minded people here at Durham as you create your own student expereince. 
Plus, check out the range of societies run by Durham Students’ Union.

Emily Smith


Hi I’m Emily, as befits a recent English graduate, I was Collingwood College’s student Librarian when I was in Durham (I hope to return soon to study more). You’ll usually find me, for either work or play, buried in archives researching the obscure, the niche, and the forgotten…and sometimes wrangling dragons.


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