Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams Condemns Sexualization of Young Stars

The seventh season of HBO‘s hit fantasy series Game of Thrones is set to debut next week, and the show’s stars are giving interviews left and right. Aside from the usual spoiler requests and behind-the-scenes scoops, many of the show’s stars are speaking out against some of the pressures they’ve faced during their time in Hollywood. Lena Headey, who plays the conniving queen Cersei Lannister, recently spoke out against the flirting and sexual comments she endured during auditions throughout her career. Now, one of the show’s youngest stars Maisie Williams has come out against what she sees as the sexualization of young girls in Hollywood.

Williams, the scene-stealing actress behind fan-favorite character Arya Stark, revealed her gratitude at having avoided some of the objectification faced by her peers in an interview with The Sunday Times. In the interview, Williams says she feels fortunate she hasn’t yet been cast in a role which forces the typical hypersexual expectations on her:

I have been really lucky, in that I play characters who aren’t necessarily the eye candy. It’s hard for young actresses who still feel like scrappy teenagers but are sort of forced to play characters who are a lot more mature, because, you know, ‘young sexy woman’ really sells in Hollywood.

Williams also revealed how difficult it was for her to essentially go through adolescence on camera, noting that the typical self-esteem issues faced by teens can be especially difficult when one is in such a public position. Williams, 20, landed the Arya Stark role at the young age of 12. As she’s grown, so has her character; Arya began the series as a scrappy tomboy but has since evolved into a ruthless, cold-blooded assassin bent on avenging her father’s murder.

“At 12, I was fearless and didn’t care, so I really enjoyed it. But then, as each season passed, the pressure built and it became a little destructive,” Williams said. “Everyone goes through that dip in confidence. That also came with puberty. It all fizzled out a bit, and I lost my confidence and now I’m slowly starting to get it back again.”

Season seven Game of Thrones premieres on July 16th at 9 p.m. exclusively on HBO.