So at age 11, I was bursting with excitement when my dance teacher informed me of a talent show which boasted opportunities of making you a star. This was the second opportunity I was faced with.
I entered into singing, acting, dancing and modeling. The talent show consisted of workshops and seminars with specialists who would help train you up for your performance at the end of the week.
After meeting a woman called Louise Johnston in an improvisation acting workshop, she gave me the words “bowling ball,” and asked me to create a short scene inspired by these words.
After making her laugh with a fictional story, of how I threw a bowling ball at my brother and it bounced, she asked me to join her acting agency. I didn’t really know what this meant. I knew that I would do auditions for films and maybe become an actor, but I still had big dreams of becoming a professional dancer.
So this woman was going to have to work a lot harder than that if she was going to convince 11-year-old me that I was going to become an actress. Was this going to take time away from the 30 hours of dancing I was doing a week?
And what if I didn’t get the part? Was this going to be too upsetting? And do actresses have teeth like mine? Because if they do, I’m yet to watch any of their movies.
After meeting Louise in the February of 2009 and trying but failing to land the part in the hit sequel “Nanny McPhee” to “The Big Bang,” my second audition was for a show called “Game of Thrones.” This was the third opportunity or challenge I was presented with.
I climbed the steps to the Methodist Church with my mother’s hand in mine. I perched my tiny bottom in one of the seats outside the audition room and listened to an annoying girl with her even more annoying mother tell me all about the number of auditions she had done prior to this one. And also about her pet fish.
My name was called, then I stepped inside. I had a hard Bristolian accent and dark rings around my eyes that were so big they took up half my face and a hole in the knee of my trousers which I tried to cover with my left hand as I was talking to the kind lady who taped my audition.
But as soon as she pressed record, it all drifted away. Much like when I was dancing in my mother’s living room, I harnessed all of my insecurities and self-doubt and let it flow through the words that came out of my mouth. I was cheeky. I was loud. I was angry. And for this, I was perfect.
After getting the part and shooting the pilot episode, the show slowly grew to become one of the biggest shows in television history. To this day, we’ve smashed previous HBO viewing records. We’ve been nominated for over 130 Emmys, making us the most Emmy-nominated show to ever exist.
We’ve recently finished shooting our eighth and final season, which is predicted to smash records that we’ve already broken. And nearly a decade to the day since my first audition, I’m still wondering, when am I going to get to be Billy Elliot? I joke, but in all seriousness, I have absolutely no plans of slowing down.
Throughout my time in this industry, it has been a minefield. I have grown from a child into an adult, and from four feet tall into a whopping five feet tall. I have constantly been trying to say the right thing, accidentally saying the wrong thing, trying not to swear too much and trying to stop saying “like, like” all of the time.
In February of 2017, a friend of mine, Dom, and I were swigging beers in my kitchen, and he confessed to me that there is a huge problem with the creative industries. I agreed.
The series of events that had got me to that point were based mainly on luck and timing and were unable to be recreated. He suggested to me that we create a social media, but just for artists to be able to collaborate with one another and create a career. This was the fourth opportunity or challenge I was presented with.
“Great,” I thought, “how the hell do we do that?” And Daisy was born. Of course, everyone who I spoke to about my latest endeavor thought that I was mad; however, I know that this is something that I can help change.
This last year in the industry, we’ve seen a huge shift with the Me Too movement. The industry is built with gatekeepers holding all of the power and selecting who they deem talented enough to advance to the next level.
More often than not, it’s easier to catch the attention of those people if you have graduated from an expensive school. But even then, I have so many friends who are fresh out of art school, having trained for years and are still no closer to creating a career.
Now, I’m not claiming that with Daisy I can make everybody a star, but I do believe that the key to success within creative industries is collaborating. Actors are only as good as their writers. Musicians are only as strong as their producers.
And designers need their teams. To start the company, we self-funded. I had a pot of cash from “Game of Thrones” that I was free to invest wherever I liked. Dom had a series of businesses from the age of 16, which meant he was also left with a pot of cash. We threw our money together 50:50, and we built a team.