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With her very first on-camera job, Maisie Richardson-Sellers landed on the biggest stage possible, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “What could have been a really intimidating experience” turned into something “pleasurable,” she recalls, thanks to her scene-mate, the late Carrie Fisher.
The British actress, who also plays punk-rock shapeshifter Charlie on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, is expanding her purview with the recently launched Barefaced Productions, a company that will focus on storytelling about people of color and the LGBTQAI+ community. As such, the banner’s first project is the short film Sunday’s Child, which centers on a young, isolated queer woman and her journey to self-acceptance (Richardson-Sellers co-wrote and directed). In her latest acting gig, The Kissing Booth 2, the self-described “nerd” plays Chloe, a British co-ed who grows close to Noah (played by Jacob Elordi). Netflix begins streaming the film, a follow-up to 2018’s breakout The Kissing Booth, on July 24.
THR caught up with the Richardson-Sellers on Zoom as she showed off her recently planted vegetable garden at her L.A. home while discussing her Legends future, mastering pool on Kissing Booth and spending one-on-one time with Carrie Fisher in her trailer.
What was your best moment on Kissing Booth 2?
I have always wanted to play pool, be a cool, good, pool player. And Chloe happens to be amazing at pool. So I got training with this champion pool player three times a week. Then it came to filming this pool scene, and I managed to do the whole thing without needing a double, sank all the shots while still remembering my lines. That was definitely an achievement for me.
What was the toughest moment?
Having food poisoning was tough. Joey [King] and I both had food poisoning at the same time when we were filming. That was definitely a challenge.
Describe your co-star Jacob in three words.
A gentle, reflective giant.
Are you done with Legends? Because it was left open ended at the end of the season?
Is anyone ever done on Legends (Laughs.)? But I have left the show as a series regular, which was a really tough but positive decision that I made because I really want to pour more energy and time into Barefaced Productions and getting projects off the ground, and I just couldn’t do that with the [Legends] shooting schedule. I learned so much from Legends. It was such a family environment, and I love them all. And I’ve made it very clear that if they ever actually accidentally need Charlie or Amaya for a mission, I’d be more than down. So, I don’t think it’s fully goodbye yet. I hope. I’m not dead. And even dying means nothing on the show anyway.
What’s been the best moment of your career?
I directed a play, a production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf, which is this choreo-poem by Ntozake Shange. It looks at the Black female experience across America and the diversity of that and also the similarities. It is just so raw and inspiring and heartbreaking. To direct something that was that charged and to also be able to be in it was just phenomenal. It reminded me why I do what I do and the power of art to challenge and heal.
Worst moment of your career?
The first year was tough because I was so emotionally invested in everything that I tried out for. I did like six auditions for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was intense, and then obviously did not get the lead but still got another small part. J.J. Abrams was so sweet, so lovely to me and he gave me a part in the film. My first ever on-camera experience was a scene with Carrie Fisher. I had no idea what I was doing. I had never been on a set before. I had only done theater up until that point. It was an overwhelming but amazing baptism by fire. It turned what could have been a painful experience into a really positive one, a learning experience.
What do you remember about working with Carrie?
She was the most gentle, sweet, down to earth. I walked on set and she just beamed at me and she said, “We’ve got this.” I was like, “This is my first time.” And she was just so kind and generous and just ended up making it into such a pleasurable experience, what could have been a really intimidating experience. And then afterwards, I went to her trailer to say thank you and she was like, “Come in.” I sat with her, and we had a chat. And she was just so open and just so willing to share. I was there for two days. She didn’t have to be like that with technically a day player.
What profession would you do if not this?
I’ve actually almost had many lives. I went to Oxford to study anthropology and archaeology, and I had this idea of working for the U.N. as researcher or as a documentary filmmaker. I also almost went in to do human rights law.
There’s a lot of Oxford grads in film and TV. Do you have a secret handshake?
(Laughs.) My parents both being actors basically said, “Look, we know how hard this can be. Do it, that’s fine, but please just get a degree, just have something.” I was like, “Fine. I love studying.” I thought let me just do whatever I’m most passionate about and let me go to Oxford because I know that a lot of actors do still come out of Oxford for some reason. So it was slightly tactical. They have a fantastic drama department there. It’s sort of off campus, their drama society. I was a big member of that as well. And lots of agents come and see the plays that come out of Oxford, and that’s how my agent found me. It’s a nice alternative to going to drama school. Great networking and a fantastic degree at the same time.
As an actress, who would be your dream director?
Barry Jenkins. With Moonlight, he completely took my heart and still has it. To me it was a perfect piece of art — from the cinematography to the acting to the script, the use of light as a character within the story and as a metaphor for the character’s journey, the evolution of relationships. It’s such a complete world that he creates in such a tender way and it’s a way that I haven’t seen the LGBTQAI+ experience represented before. Also, Dee Rees and Sean Baker. Tangerine was fantastic. He shot the whole thing on the iPhone.
As a director, who would you most like to direct?
Meryl Streep. She is the queen. It would be a joy to work with her in any aspect — to direct her, to act with her, hold her coffee. I’ll do it.
What is the meaning behind “Barefaced”?
My mum is from Guyana and my gran is Guyanese, and we are extremely, extremely close. In Guyana, “barefaced” is a phrase we use to describe someone who is challenging the norm, being a bit cheeky, being out there, being controversial. It’s an affectionate slang word.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. It’s amazing. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen myself represented in a book. There is a queer, mixed-race, Guyanese actress in the book, which is really cool. I really devoured that one.
What was your first job?
An assistant on the shop floor of a Jack Wills in London. I remember being so excited. I was 16. I worked behind the till. I just felt like I made it, that independence and that pocket money and not having to lean on my parents was just really cool. I remember my first paycheck, I split it between the two of them and I was like, “Thank you. You don’t have to worry about me anymore, I got me. And thank you for everything you’ve done.” And that was a really powerful moment.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
My granny. She has lived such a life. She has lived the life of seven people. The journey of coming through Guyana to England and raising three children by herself. She has the most amazing ability to find humor in any situation. Every time I speak to her on the phone, she just says, “Be strong.” And I have that voice in the back of my head always. She also taught me vulnerability is a sign of strength.
What do you love most about the fan community?
I love going to Comic-Cons, to conventions because it’s so nice to finally be able to interact with the people who are enjoying what you’re creating. I love the Legends fans because I’m a massive nerd and they are mostly nerds and we can just sort of geek out together. It’s really heartwarming and humbling when people come up to you and tell you the impact that the character you played has had on their lives. It just reminds me why I’m doing it, to be honest.
What do you like least about the fan community?
When they turn on each other. It’s so sad sometimes when someone will say something that someone doesn’t quite agree with. Sometimes I think fan communities can be a little bit too quick to tear people apart, which makes me sad. I am very lucky with the people that seem to follow me tend to be very open minded and generous people, and they really do take care for each other. I’ve noticed quite a lot of communities, micro-communities, being built within my fan group, and that makes me feel inspired.
What is the strangest dream you’ve had during the lockdown?
I did have a strange dream where I was best friends with Rihanna. We were traveling around together. She was on tour, and I was filming her as a backstage documentary. And it was so real. And I woke up and I was like, “I am best friends with Rihanna!” Every time I see her pop up now, I’m like, “Oh my girl.”
Is there an opportunity for Chloe to come back for a Kissing Booth 3?
If there is a number three, I would be there in a heartbeat. It definitely ends on a note where Chloe would be there.
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