Maisie Williams speaks to The Drum about her plans for Daisie, the app she has launched with young creative talent, for young creative talent.
There’s nothing new about Hollywood celebrities expanding their influence into tech. The latest trend in this microcosm has seen A-listers exploring the world of apps – usually to extend their own personality onto mobile. Tom Hanks has turned his interest in typewriters into ‘Hanx Writer’ and Kristin Cavallari – who is best known from her taxing days on Laguna Beach and The Hills – creates content for the originally titled ‘Kristin Cavallari’ app.
But Maisie Williams’ venture, Daisie, seems different. When The Drum organizes an interview with the Game of Thrones actor turned social network founder, a phone number is passed over email with an instruction to call at 3pm. She’s running 10 minutes late and answers on the second ring. A PR doesn’t sit silently listening in on another line, because Daisie isn’t a PR mechanism for Williams.
Famous for her portrayal of Arya Stark, she’s been blessed with more fortune than most 21-year-olds. Having first landed an agent through a “strange, competition talent show” and very quickly found herself in front of the producers of a fantasy series called Game of Thrones, she was signed on at the age of just 12. It was her second ever audition.
“It really just opened the door for me,” she says. “And every year the show grew I realized the position I was in and how lucky I was and how grateful I was. But it can’t be like that for everyone. That sort of opportunity doesn’t come around all that often.”
Her realization that her freefall into acting was more or less “a stroke of luck” calcified when she met the film producer Dom Santry on the set of iBoy. As their friendship developed, Williams became aware that most people’s path to Hollywood is – for the most part – unassailable. “He had friends that he’d been to film school with,” she says. “When he touched base with them and realized they hadn’t got into the film industry at all, he realized it is all to do with who you know and not necessarily about what you know.”
So one night in Williams’ kitchen, the actor and producer set about changing the status quo. The result was Daisie, a social platform that creatives can use to ‘like, share and collaborate on projects in communion’. Initially launching for creators in film, fashion, music, photography, art and literature, users will be able to create an online portfolio and search their peers’ for inspiration.
Early screenshots evoke a mashup of IMDB, LinkedIn and The Dots, speckled with the coolness of Tumblr (there's currently a 'queue' of 33,113 creatives waiting for access). But professionalism is at its heart. It’s why Williams and Santry took the decision to eschew the follow count function – a metric vital to the success of influencers and brands alike on the likes of Twitter and Instagram.
“We didn’t want it to be this popularity contest that we see so frequently throughout social media,” she says. “We want it to be more collaborative and more of a community than these other social medias that we have. It’s just not healthy and it’s not what is going to put you ahead as an artist.”
The way a user’s profile will grow, Williams explains, is by making a connection with someone else. Those involved in traditional systems of artistry – namely in filmmaking and brand-building – are invited to join in the conversation too, but as creators, not corporate entities. Daisie’s website states: “We got rid of company profiles because they pollute timelines and go against the whole point of a social network. If brands want to use Daisie they can. They just have to do it our way; personally – by giving their team accounts and having them actually use the site; as people.”
Still, Williams has – unsurprisingly – already been approached by companies and commercially-minded individuals looking to capitalize on what will one day be a pit of new talent. And that’s fine. She’s not so naive to think the world she and Santry are creating will demolish the old system, but for now, they’re concentrating their efforts on getting Daisie up and running – which also means Williams turns cautious when talking about monetization plans.
“There are discussions but for us what our main goal is to have a community of artists who are collaborating with each other, uploading their work, sharing their projects and ultimately bettering themselves as individual ... That’s our main goal really at the moment – to help people with their own careers, rather than our own,” she says.
Read the full interview with Williams in the August issue of The Drum magazine.