“It’s okay,” Williams reassures me. “I can help you if you fall.” There’s a deep sincerity to her delivery, as well as a casual confidence, and I believe her. After all, this is a young woman whose character spent an entire season living in freezing mud, another traversing the countryside with a giant on horseback, and as of late has been forced to find her way through a foreign country while blind. Except looking at Williams, in her sporty, skate-ready knee socks and dainty nose stud, one thing is clear: Arya Stark may be Maisie Williams, but Maisie Williams is not Arya Stark. Still, the fandom around her character has certainly turned into a fandom around Williams, who boasts over a million Twitter followers, nearly two million Instagram followers, and her own YouTube channel focused on “Random Moments of Madness With Maisie.” She’s known for her self-deprecating sense of humor and her support of Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, and is quick to poke fun at Arya’s transformation from naive Northerner to poison-plying murderer.
“Online, I used to [present] a version of myself that was very clean and neat, and then I thought, ‘What’s the point?’ That’s the worst role model to be—to be someone else,” she says. Indeed, her Internet presence isn’t too far off from the girl skating effortlessly down the boardwalk, making jokes but also pushing herself to communicate more thoughtfully. “Being perfect is a bit disheartening,” she says. “Life’s too short and I want to inspire people to have fun and not take life too seriously. And if that means I make mistakes and say the wrong thing, then so be it. That’s kind of what being young and growing up is about. I’m learning like everyone else.”