Maisie Richardson-Sellers on Ray Winstone, feet and warrior queens

From superheroes to the supernatural, actress Maisie Richardson-Sellers has already proved that she can take on any part that comes her way, and she’s poised and ready for much, much more

British actress Maisie Richardson-Sellers is driven by a desire to take on projects that are as varied as possible to ensure she remains constantly creative. With her roles to date ranging from a vampire in The Originals, to portraying a superhero in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, plus a recent stint in West End comedy 3Women at Trafalgar Studios, it’s fair to say that this month’s ‘One To Watch’ has started as she means to go on…

What’s your favourite role so far?

I do love the supernatural worlds of vampires, werewolves and superheroes that I’ve been in, but I’d have to say it’s Melody in Melody, a short coming out this year that we are hoping to turn into a feature. It follows two young women on a wild adventure one night that tests the boundaries of their friendship and the extremes they are willing to push each other to. It’s very raw, real and textured. We did a lot of improvisation in scenes, which I loved; the director and writer Bernard Kordieh gave us a lot of creative freedom and that was extremely liberating. Melody is a tough, ‘live for the moment’ powerhouse with a dangerous edge, so exploring her was great fun.

Who is your acting idol?

Meryl Streep. The diversity and precision of her roles is phenomenal. She manages to totally transform each character she inhabits with such detail, humility and truth.

If you could play any figure who would it be?

I recently read up about Amina of Zaria, a 16th-century queen in what we now know as Nigeria. She was an incredible warrior and refused to stay in the palace, instead leading her army into many successful battles. Through her conquests and leadership she turned her ‘queendom’ into the central trading location within southern Hausaland. She was also a skilled architect and had a huge impact on the urban developments of the area. She was actually the inspiration for Xena: Warrior Princess, but I would love to see her life explored in a feature film and certainly wouldn’t say no to playing her.

If you could have acted in anything, what would it have been?

Satine in Moulin Rouge, I already know every word from watching it endlessly as a teen. My lack of singing and dance training means nothing; anything is possible.

Ray Winstone played my father in Of Kings and Prophets. We had the most incredible time.

Favourite actor that you’ve worked with?

Ray Winstone, who played my father in Of Kings and Prophets. We filmed it in Cape Town and had the most incredible time. Ray is such a talented actor but also the most divine human, so there was endless learning and laughter. I’m also madly in love with theatre and really enjoying working on 3Women in the West End, it’s such a privilege to be back on stage.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve read about yourself online?

I was once sent a website dedicated purely to photos of my feet… I had absolutely no idea they were of such great interest to anyone. I’ll make sure to pay them more attention!

You have nearly 300,000 followers on Instagram – that’s a hell of a fan base…

There’s no pretence or glossing on my social media, I just want to spread positivity, self empowerment and awareness, and hopefully people connect with me through that. My followers are great, a very supportive bunch.

What’s been the craziest or funniest comment you’ve received on social media?

Some very detailed marriage requests!

I have a degree in Archaeology & Anthropology. My excavation game is strong.

What question would you ask yourself?

I’d ask me what book I’m reading, and the answer would be Let Me Be Like Water by SK Perry. It is an incredible, honest exploration of the human spirit through friendship, loss and simply existing in this world. Perry has a captivating, poetic writing style that’s a delight.

What’s the most fun you’ve had on set?

Filming the pirate episode in season three of Legends of Tomorrow. It was set in the Bahamas in 1717, and becoming a rogue pirate queen was so much fun. The whole episode was brilliant to film, and with incredible handmade sets they managed to turn Vancouver in November into a pretty convincing Nassau. I was determined to do my own sword fights, although three hours in I was slightly regretting it.

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve ever had to do for a film?

When I had to play an 80-year-old version of my character in Legends of Tomorrow. I was sent to a full head cast, which is as horrible as it sounds – I was covered in plaster from my shoulders up with just two breathing holes for two hours. They then created a whole new face and neck for me that was glued on and spray painted over the course of four hours. The end result was freakishly convincing. Trying to act through a face of rubber was an experience, and Nick Zano could barely look at me without laughing, which didn’t help. ‘Always wear sunscreen’ was the mental note that I made when I saw the end result.

What talent would surprise us about you?

I have a degree in Archaeology & Anthropology. My excavation game is strong.

Where are your favourite places in London?

I love a Sunday roast in an old pub; it’s what I miss the most while I’m in LA. Petersham Nurseries is stunning and a firm favourite, and I’m also a fan of P Franco and Oklava.

What’s your ultimate ambition?

To do wide-ranging roles that feed me creatively and challenge me to grow as an artist. I also want to start up a production company and travel the world making anthropological documentaries.

Follow Maisie on Instagram